The Wintoning Project

The Wintoning Project is an invitation to construct a new Tim Winton novel, piece by piece, many writers contributing a paragraph or page. Commenters should aim for Australian or Western Australian schmaltz, in the style of our most famous literary son, master dispenser of literary cheese and fake WA nostalgia Tim Winton. The story should be loosely based on our Tim’s journey to another Man Booker shortlist. Some examples of Wintoning can be found here on the Wikipedia page. (deleted but saved below).

The First 5000 Words. (uneditied)

The Beginning.
“Phwoar,” he said. “Booker prize again.” This time they said he was due. Due like the Fremantle Doctor on one of those Cottesloe days when they would run chiaking into the surf, waving their kylies at each other, the skittish fish for now safe in the shallows. He looked at the half empty backpack. Tuxedo or footy shorts? Either way he’d look like a tit in London unless he won. Then the scoops and Billabong singo would look like a masterstroke. The tux was too tight. The gut had trebled in size since the awful night Yann Martel and his ridiculous Life of Pi had dashed his hopes last time. He tried on the strides. He sucked it in and could almost pull up the zip. Maybe they’d do if he didn’t have to sit down. And if he won, there would be no need to sit would there? But what if he lost? Again. It was unthinkable. He could already imagine the hot stain of shame on his face and the stares as he stood like some high school dickhead while Coetzee or even worse Peter fucking Carey took to the podium. His scrotum tightened like a sun faded piece of nylon rope wrapped around the prop shaft of a crayboat.
No, definitely the shorts and singlet.

Ganondorf says:
The sores were weeping again, his manhood shedding pustulent tears like a teenage mother denied her Baby Bonus. “Phwaor…” he exhaled, his trepiditious breath as gentle as the play of windswept sand at Trigg on a balmy spring day. “It must have been that sheilah on the dunes over the weekend. Phwaor.” It had been a fun evening for all, celebrating the marriage of Australia’s own Prince Willsy and his radiant bride Katie. The air had been swollen with romance, a refreshing spray of relief amid the tide of hectic drudgery of modern life. What HAD the woman’s name been, anyway? Charlene? Cherie? Something like that, anyway – he HAD sunk a lot of piss that night after all. Though her name might have been lost in the murky depths of forgotten memory the experience itself was not; even now the recollection brought a grin to his face, albeit one soon interrupted by the irritable sensation ebbing from his crotch. “Bugger this,” he thought, “I’ll go and see the Doc tomorrow, maybe get some pills or sumthing, and it’ll all be fine. A little itch isn’t gunna stop me, not when I’m so close to the Booker.” His determination renewed, he pulled up his tracky dacks and put on a fresh T-Shirt. Just thinking about the pride on the faces of his three kids as he won the Booker gave him renewed strength and purpose, like the shifting tide on a full moon.

don smith says:
So he spat a goober into the air and it floated in the on shore wind like Mal Brown’s torpedo in the dying stages of the 1974 Grand Final. Landed on a rose petal and reminded him of the English rose who got hitched the day before. “Looks like a good sort” he thought to himself, “Bet she’d pull her weight on a prawn trawler.” Then, out of habit, he headed down towards the White Sands for a game of soggy biscuit before remembering he was a dad, a Vogel winner and a Christian. “It’s bloody fiction Tim!” he swore to himself as the dying embers of a crusty surfer’s fag floated past him in the
glint of the sunset. “Bloody fiction! Full of dirty filthy gutsy manly adjectives that were all the craze about fifty years ago.”

Then, in the distance, he could see the crippled gate of Jacko, or Mick, or Trev, or was it Boggo? Who cares, it was a man drenched in the harsh weather of any number of Australian cliches; and as he moved closer he could almost feel the radiance of the man’s sunburn in the last rays of evening light.

rottobloggo says:
Time for a coffee to keep the creative juices on the go. He sauntered down to Bobbi’s and gave the chick behind the Rancilio the nod.
“Not too much foam this time, ay, Ballet?”
She scowled. Jeez but it was hard to get a friendly gesture in this town these days. A lot of cappuccino had flowed under the pontoon since they had upped sticks from the bush. He tried to tally the years as he nested in a gaudy bean-bag and reached for the papers…too many. Like olive oil leaking from a busted jar in the Freo Markets hemp bag, so were the days of our lives.
A quick squizz of the newsprint showed Clive James had leukemia, Manning Clark had verbal diarrhea, and the critics were creaming their jeans over some new American bird named Tea Obreht. Nothing about him. Well, that would soon change. As surely as the dugong dived deeper in the Hyde Park depths to escape the sound of a jogger being Tasered, he would be standing on the Guild Hall podium, like a pimply grommet proudly hugging the rails of his first McTavish.
Shit, he’d forgotten his Moleskin. He was about to give Bobbi a hoy to bring over some butcher’s paper – was she growing the beans, fer Chrissake – when he saw who was about to come in through the flystrips…

Jaidyn-Jaxxon says:
Phwoar, he breathed. You wouldn’t believe it. Couldn’t if you tried, if you wanted to, even if you thought you could, not that you’d know. It was always the way. And as always, that flood of memories, backed up like we all used to get on those tedious sunbaked arvoes when you’d get up early, go down the rocks to eat chips and pick at chitons while your Dad had a go at tightening the brakes, and later head out the markets to browse and barter, fossick and fartarse among the cabbage tips and grubby stalls in hope of somehow scoring a couple of Redskins gratis, and then when you’d all finally consented to go home the fucken train’d cut yas off with twenty minutes to go, blurring past in a rattling, racketing mockery of your own stymied movements, down below. And you’d get there to face the inevitable, that simultaneous surge to the dunny, squabbling like seagulls while your tea went cold. Memories, eh.

No, you wouldn’t believe it, seeing her now, seeing her here, of all places. Here on the Strip, where every frothy sip carried memories of its own, where every bite of bruschetta sang lilting hymnals to the better days as it slipped down your gullet. Here, where one could simply be, and be bettered. He knew all about that. He smirked into his cap mac. Would she recognise him? Of course she would – eventually – but give it ’til she’s ordered, eh? Savour the moment. And just look at her. Still so fresh and vivacious after all these years – a couple of scrapes along the way, no doubt; and thinking about it, he could see an extra Chinese character or two wending their way up her arms. Peace, no doubt, and probably Harmony too, knowing her. Did she still smell the same, he wondered, that dark, sweet salt scent, like a bluey in the sun, like a pound of mangoes cast up on the dunes and left to bleach. He’d missed her; she was a classic. And it truly hadn’t felt the same, hunting the breakers or knotting the hemp or whatever bloody else he’d tried to wad into those empty years since that day she’d-

Nuh. She’d walked straight past. The bitch. She’d taken her fucken soy chai latte and left the building. Not so much as a star-struck sigh; not good enough. He swung out of the booth, a slow rolling turn like a dugong in a rip, lumbered to his feet and cap mac in hand, followed her out into that florid bustle, dodging and weaving as ably as he could between the doddering Germans and Spearwood skanks, darting round the crimson-rinsed and menopaused, shoving aside those splendid true believers in their ropey locks and rattan trousers – would they ever, truly die out? – and only, barely, managing to keep sight of her bead-bound hair and awkward bum as she sauntered off ahead in her scintillant pashmina.

Becky! he called. Becky! Becky! It’s me!

rottobloggo says:
Her head turned and he caught a organ-wrenching glimpse of the beaten gold in her highlights – he had nearly caught up with her – Becky! – and he thought he better not seem out of breath – he didn’t want to look like one of those puffed-up blowies panting their last on the rocks at the West End before the surging deep came to claim them – hey Becky! – and as the opening gambits tussled behind his feverish brow her eyes met his.
What are ya fucken lookin at cunt?
Faaark and Chrissakes.
She was a bloody tranny!
His arms waved like the blades on the wind farm on the hills outside Albany.
Mate, sorry, I thought you were…
Fuck off.
As she – he – made a beeline for Timezone he felt like he’d been dumped hard on the ocean floor at Hillarys, then had his face rasped along the granulated floor.
The red corpuscles surged around his torso and his heart was pounding louder than the terrible din made by two alpha-male dugongs battlin to see who would impregnate this season’s prize cow, but it was if he was made of lifeless metal even stiller than the Bon Scott statue around the corner…

The Lazy Aussie says
He slunk back to the house, the cool darkness of the verandah swallowing him, back to the safety of the womb. Womb. Shit. The thought reminded him of his itchy todger again. He stomped back to the worn red laminated kitchen table, his steps booming like the noon gun at The Roundhouse on the wide, smooth, century old jarrah boards. He’d escape it all on the trip back to the Old Dart for the Bookers anyway.
He pulled open the envelope and scanned the ticket again. First Class. Yep. Of course it was. But the thought still nagged at him like the announcer at the public pool kiosk all those years ago as they practiced frog kick and then lay on the hot concrete to warm their young bodies…Maybe he should have specified? He could still call Qantas. Nah ridiculous. Leaving from Perth, there was no chance he’d be sitting next to Thomas Keneally. Jesus, 18 hours listening to that prick…He must remember to take the ipod though just in case. Even Keneally couldn’t talk through three hours of John Butler. Could he?

poor lisa says:
A thought came unbidden into the coiled pulsing cortex, grey and gnarled like a ravaged but defiantly alive reef, which lay beneath his insouciantly unfashionable thatch.
It’s mean, but… Fuckit, I can say it to meself can’t I? At least I won’t have to share a row with Dorothy Hewitt. He chuckled saltily and dragged a coupla Things of Stone and Wood tracks on for good measure.

Grasshopper says:
Suddenly the phone rang out, its obnoxious tones as jarring as an overfed seagull hovering over an uncovered bowl of potato salad. He picked up the receiver.
“Hello?”
“Timothy? Is that you, son?”
Jesus, it was Mum. ‘For Flipper’s sakes, I don’t have time for this crap!’ he thought. ‘Doesn’t she know how busy I am?’
How many times did he have to tell the bloody nursing home not to let the senile old bat hassle him unless it was an emergency? What was it this time, more gross stories about kerosene baths? Not for the first time he cursed Today Tonight for putting crazy ideas in the loony old bag’s head – he never should have let her have that television in her room.
‘Oh well,’ he mused. ‘blood is thicker than water, I suppose if I can spare five minutes if it’ll get her off my back…’
Aloud, he answered “Yair Mum, it’s your little nipper. How’s things at Ebbing Tides?”
“What? Speak up sonny, I’ve lost my hearing aid again.”
“HI MUM, HOW ARE YOU?”
“Don’t shout dear, it’s very bad manners. I’m not deaf you know.”
‘No,’ he thought. ‘You’re just as mad as a galah.’
“Whaddaya want, Mum? I’m in the middle of something important here.”
“I can’t find your father anywhere, is he visiting with you?”
Oh God, not this again.
“Mum, Dad’s dead. He’s been dead for years. That’s why me and the kids bought you that goldfish, to keep you company.”
“Oh…Are you sure, son? I’m sure I was talking to him just a few hours ago.”
“YES I’m sure Mum. It’s just the dementia making you all confused again.”
“Oh…well, how are the grandkids? I’d love to see them sometime, maybe you could bring them for a visit next weekend? Just half an hour? I’d love to see you you know…”
“Well, I’d really like to Mum, you know I would, but I’m just drowning with work at the moment. Maybe in a few weeks or something.”
‘There, that should buy me some time.’ he thought.
“Oh. OK. Sorry to bother you son.”
“Anyway, I have to go now Mum. Was that everything?”
“Actually…”
“OK then, bye Mum.” he said, hanging up.
‘I really have to get a phone with caller ID.’ he mused to himself, absentmindedly scratching around the old meat ‘n two veg. ‘Now where was I again?’

NF#1 says:
Later, after the wife and kids had gone to bed, he kicked off his sandals and slumped into his old hemp-cloth beanbag. As much as he hated to admit it, thoughts of the trip to London tomorrow made his stomach flutter, much like a tightly balled school of whiting, blindly darting and butting heads, desperate to disperse as the ocean almost imperceptibly vibrated to the thrum of an approaching fishing boat. A movie would make him feel better, settle him down like the old milko depositing the daily pair of perspirating milk-bottles at the doorstep of his boyhood home. Getting up and opening the cupboard door, he rummaged past the Wiggles DVDs, his fingers finding his own stash right at the back. He pulled a case out at random – nah, not that one; the wife might still get up; gotta conserve anyway – before a decision, almost unbidden, flashed through the god-like prose whirlpool of his mind. Finding the one he wanted after a couple more misfires, he loaded up the DVD player and returned to his womb-like seat. Fuckin’ remote, prick of a thing. His weathered hand felt several inches of cool slate, knocking aside several wooden toys, before finding it. Always made him feel better, watching The Adventures of Bazza Mackenzie. His Dad used to like it – would let out great ripping laughs like a wombat regurgitating a 1080 bait – so it had in its own way become a family tradition. But clearly he got something out of it his Dad never did. Poor bugger never got to travel much, stuck in Albany most of his adult life, teaching – or trying to teach – a seemingly endless stream of inbred ingrates, many of whom mocked the son’s writerly aspirations, questioned his sexuality. I am a man, he reflected, with a wife and three kids. Which of them had ever come to anything? The screen flickered into life, bathing the room in a weird chiaroscuro. The whole film read as a what-not-to-do for the Aussie in London. Stuck up pricks. Still, not as struck up as that Malouf cunt. Hope he’s not there. Anyway, Bazza was getting off the plane now, just like he would be in little under a day.

Grasshopper says:
He jerked awake from his slumber, flailing like a sinking corpse spooking a school of electric eels. The telly was hissing static, the movie long ended – he must have fallen asleep on the bag again. His shuddering form was beaded with a cold sweat, like the dew-laden grass of Monument Hill on a chilly autumn morning. He’d had another nightmare too, he recalled: a gargantuan floating wizened hand wielding a ghostly phantom pen, writing page after infernal page of the same clumsy, nonsensical verse while he, again the larrikin child he had been in his carefree youth, looked on bound and helpless. It sometimes felt as if he were floating on a dark sea of clouds of interminable torturous ennui, unable even to scream. It was the helplessness that made the phantasm so terrifying – as if he were stuck on an eternally looping rythm of repetitive torment. Always the same dream, always the same…
“I’m such a FRAUD!” He broke down, head buried in his hands. “I’ll NEVER win the Booker! How I ever became a successful author is beyond me, I’m such a worthless HACK!” His flowing tears slid down his quaking hands, slicking them as wet and slippery as a fish freshly delivered to Kailis Brothers, thence to succor the ravenous maw of a hungry working family. He sobbed, sobbed like a child, his tears a harsh and unforgiving rain across the barren landscape of his tortured soul. Yet still, STILL, the tears were nothing compared to his inner shame and disgust, his enormous sense of self-loathing. The secret knowledge, that he was flawed, base and disgusting, a man of a thousand failings unworthy of the great life he had somehow managed to scam out of the great sea of life. It sometimes seemed that the better life got, the more books he published, the more awards he won, the worse the dread inner emptiness became.
He got up and made his way to the kitchen. No getting back to sleep after The Dream, might as well get a coffee. “Maybe I’ll take a walk, get some fresh air.” he mused aloud. At least it’d get his mind off the incessant throbbing in his unmentionables. How could it have gotten so much more insistent in just a few hours? Well, can’t do anything about it now. His mind made up, he woke up the dogs sleeping on the living room futon, put on their leashes, and strode out into the night.

Jaidyn-Jaxxon says:
Phwoar, he breathed, the evening mist curling out of that blunt shark-end he called a face and wisping away into itself like a moonlit caress, one of those silent numbers you’d bestow upon yourself behind the scallop sheds while the rest of your family whistled and whooped to the Skyworks telecast next door. It’s cold. Beside him, Mentelle and Lamont, snug in their tartan blankets, trotted just that little bit faster. Easy girls, he muttered. Easy. Can’t keep up with yas.

They rounded the block, reached the end of the street – rebellious as ever, he slipped ‘em over the train tracks and they scampered off up to the promontory – his quiet place. From here, it was all so peaceful, so still; the silent, rocking yachts, cormorants lurking in their amber silhouettes. Shoulda brought a thermos, he reckoned; too fucken cold. But he’d made the effort, and phwoar, no use getting a coronary on the way back. Have a rest, take it in. He bundled the dogs up close, felt their warmth bleed through against his shins, their comfort. Tough times, he muttered to himself. This bloody Booker. He didn’t have it in him, he knew; this time it wasn’t the same. They were wise to it – they were counting the rhythm, now, they were waiting with suspended breath for every seamless analogy, every nostalgic rambling, every laconic colloquialism to just tumble out on cue, each as stale as the last, like those wholesale packs of Chiko’s they’d used to find, out behind the dunnies down the drags on those dusty, frenzied nights when young dreamers truly could afford to lie back on the cool gravel under the stars and just imagine what it was going to be like, once they’d made it, once they didn’t have to struggle any more. And how much more could he contrive? Could he really endure yet another gust of satisfied sighs? Or would he falter and collapse, like a palace made from sand, or was it sandstone, on the very brink of the glorious blue itself?

He’d been cutting it fine, anyway, that was for sure. Breath, Land’s Edge – and now Flow, his metaphysical masterpiece, his ticket to the Booker – or so they’d told him, down at FACP. Was he asking too much of himself? Or was it they who did the asking, his readership, those dear parochial gourmands who kept demanding more, more, like those clamoring fairy penguins they all used to find back on those balmy afternoons when but SHUT UP he screamed to himself and of course he gave it to them didn’t he, always reaching further and further within himself for more tiresome similes with which to choke their gaping throats. The truth was, these days he fucken hated fishing and he couldn’t surf for shit. There, he’d said it; he smirked to himself in the darkness, as dew settled on his still-flushed cheeks. Could still knock back a couple dozen Little Creatures though. For what it was worth. Which as he knew, extended about as far as Shenton Park.

Fucken dugongs.

But he’d touched on the truth – there was no comfort. Even the shiftless harbour’s copper-lacquered blackness failed to move him – just another bloody reminder of the ordeal to come, of the unrelenting THEME that had him by the very guts of him. Convincing half a dozen cunts in fancy ties that yes, he had yet again produced the greatest feat in modern English – and that yes, as his agent had claimed, his product was indeed a formless, characterless, atemporal solipsism of pure theoretical hydrodynamics, a work of sheer waterness and coastalness and liquid recollection – or was it reflection? He made a note to check the flyleaf. It was too audacious, he knew it – and really, it wasn’t him, wasn’t… salty enough. Flow was bound to fail. It couldn’t work. His public, he knew, would never stand for it… unless…

Phwoar. A mirrored cover. What a bloody beautiful idea.

NF#1 says: Alternate version of Tim’s last night in Freo before the big trip:
The Fremantle night was quiet and cool. Signs of last night’s larrikin revelry were writ large on the South Terrace footpaths: patches of dried vomit, somehow redolent of the splatter of fish guts on the North Mole rocks; broken glass, winking like the afternoon sun on the stretch of ship studded sea, which spread toward the coast from Rotto like a gently rippling cape – not unlike the only barely metaphorical cape he might wear, should the judges determine correctly in awarding him his rightful prize. Gino’s was closed, dammit, so he crossed the road to gaze into Elizabeth’s darkened shopfront. To the casual observer, as casual perhaps as a sun-baked Bremmer Bay beach barbeque, he couldn’t be looking through the window, for it was almost pitch dark inside, yet he also couldn’t be staring solely at his own reflection. Concentrating now, he saw his own name loom forth from the shop’s dark: “Staff Recommendation: 2011 Man Booker nominee, Tim Winton – his finest novel….” He couldn’t make out any more. Which one? So many to choose from, whether the watery sibilance of Breath, or the earthy and yet airily homiletic pungence of Dirt Music. That’s what one of the critics said, anyway – not too bad for one of them, complimentary enough, but failed writers to the last, bastards. The nosing of his dogs around his tanned ankles recalled him to the here and now, but not before he noted with considerable satisfaction several copies of The Potato Factory in the five dollar bin. He inwardly smirked: what did Bryce ever win? As his eyes continued to adjust to the dark, he saw the shelf-talker’s final detail in all of its tepid obviousness: Clodstreet. Can’t even spell. Punters and pundits both, would they ever move on, or would his legacy forever be mired in the fates of the Pickles and Lambs? Pays the bills, I s’pose, he mused; pays for the dugong sanctuary in Shark Bay. No point hating his public: good, honest, salt of the earth readers – know what they like and like what they know. Who was he, or anyone else for that matter, to judge? Man Booker adjudicators be damned. As he turned home, he felt as resolute as one of the Pinnacle’s ancient limestone spires, pointing at the sky as though turning a mocking upturned finger to the gods, of earth and heaven or of Literature he could not at that moment decide.

The Lazy Aussie says:
He stared at the vacant seat next to him and then up at the battleaxed Qantas stewardess guarding the door like some ancient alcoholic Cerberus. “Shut it!” He thought. “Shut the fucking door!” He should have paid for the extra seat next to him. He could have strapped his guitar in there, or at least his jumbo Moleskine. “Shut the fucking door!” Why was he doing this to himself? But he knew why. The Booker. The Booker deficit was hanging round his neck like a Metters number 8 stove. Any cunt could win a Vogel. Shit hadn’t that fraud Demidenko won it once? And Premiers awards? Premiers. What had that dumb cunt Alan Carpenter said to him that time, pointing at Mark McGowan? “You’re his greatest fan?” He had sipped quickly on his Dogbolter, not trusting himself to say anything. He had difficulty remembering those shit awards, and even the works he had submitted. Which book had he written about the kid having an underwater shit in The Swan? It sounded like Lockie Leonard, but he kept thinking Cloudstreet. Whatever. Didn’t matter now. Fuck it.

Surely that was it now. He looked around first class. It was the only seat not taken. There couldn’t be any more passengers.
He lifted the armrest and started relaxing and spreading out his stuff. He closed his eyes and felt a ripple of pleasure run down his gut. “Ahhhh.” He considered dropping in to Harley Street when he got to London. Knock the knob-rot on the head. Was there actually a Harley Street or was it a largely mythical place? Like Point Peron? Arundhati Roy would know.

Hideously he was woken from his reverie by the dropping of a books on the seat next to him. Wildly he opened his eyes and stared. Fuck. Dirt Music. Plop. Another book fell. Australia’s Funniest Serial Killers. Yikes! He lifted his gaze and stared into the demented, cackling maw of, gulp – No! He looked up into the Walkley Award winning maw of Colleen Egan!

The door finally shut. Now when it was too late, too late like The Doctor on…wait hadn’t he done the Fremantle Doctor comparison already? He had sworn to only use it once every fifty thousand words, but here already it was coming round again. Coming round again like that bloody Battle of The Coral Sea anniversary. Locking her in with him. She was already babbling about her next book, “Andrew Mallard, The Last Ten Minutes.” He looked away and fumbled with the ipod, fingers desperate for the volume and suddenly, mercifully, John Butler’s Zebra was lilting and sizzling like whitebait in a pan of extra virgin on High Street – but what fresh hell was this? Egan was poking him in the ribs, like a gidgee ripping into one of those big devious Swan River flatheads who’d gone after one prawn too many. He tried to ignore it, shutting his eyes and begging Butler to pacify his mind, but the cackling harpy had the gall to pull out one earbud. He opened his eyes and was caught like a quokka in the path of a pair of pissed horny schoolies on one wobbly bike. They were all standing around him, Egan, the hostess, even the cabin crew. The plane door was open again and standing there sheepishly, plastic ID tag twisting and reflecting the light like a Gage Roads buoy on a hot velvet summer night, was an Asian man holding – what? Holding his manuscript!
“Tim you dumb plonker,” crowed Egan, taking the man’s burden as he nodded and smiled, backing away, “you’ve only left your next book in the Qantas club dunnies! One bucket to many eh?” She started to riffle through the pages, batting off his attempts to retrieve the treasure. “What have we got here? “His scrotum tightened like a sun faded piece of nylon rope wrapped round the prop shaft of a crayboat..? Whoa saucy!”
What he wouldn’t have given to be Thomas Keneally right now.

Jaidyn Jaxxon

Phwoar, he wheezed through a slick mouthful of humbugs, this England thing was alright. London, eh? The sights, the sounds, the feelings. The emotions. It felt like coming home, and he supposed it was, in a way, his homecoming; as a writer, as a lover of the English language, as one who’d sweated and strived all those years, to penetrate the veil of vernacular and stake his claim on true intimacy with the tongue, on a special, privileged relationship. He’d earned it, he knew – earned it back on those wattle-scented arvoes through the early 80s, those becalming, sun-swept hours when the minutes crept like schools of trepidatious trevally in the bottle-green abyss between those crusty pylons where they’d all used to sit and sip luke-warm Emus and wait for nibbles while he’d done the right thing, plugged away at the old Amiga waiting for inspiration itself to strike upon his hook. And what a hook it’d been, eh? The old familiar, the unexpected uppercut from the collective unconscious, so simple you’d’ve all expected it, if it wasn’t for those very same small-town virtues, if you’d’ve had any nous at all.
Yeah, nah, it wouldn’t wash in London. Big league, this. They wouldn’t fall for his little palm-reading act, the way Becky’s cousin might’ve, had he ever had the guts to try it out on one of those feverish nights when they’d all writhe around on the glowing sands half-cut on Daniel’s and Buddha buds as big as ya fist in the throes of a newly awakened riptide of adolescent passions, or so he’d been forced to assume as he’d solitarily pondered and mused above the pages and pages of crossed-out colloquialisms, yearning for that ever-looming event horizon of linguomantic realisation almost as deeply as he’d thirsted for just one fleeting hint of the sweet briny knowledge of an actual woman. How he’d sweated, poring over his twenty full years of experience, seared by the heat of distillation as his alchemy of sincerity began to crystallise, and then: the breakthrough, hordes prostrate before his feet in mute abeyance as their own comfort-words washed back over them, only heavier now, imbued with something uncanny, like the whispering tide out of Cockburn Sound on one of them silver-gleaming evenings he hadn’t spent running sand-smoothed fingertips over the lilting curves of an actual, flesh-and-blood female because he’d put an extra phwoar in chapter ‘Fudgey Done a Poo’ the night before and now the whole thing, like a rattle-trap Torana run on drivel, required thematic reattunement.
Phwoar, it’d been a tough ask. And he’d been fortunate, he knew. As accidents of birth went, it was a bloody lucky one that’d seen him plonked in a place where you could ride to the very top on the product of your virginity. I mean, there’s always Tall Poppy, he mused, and it had been painful, those tedious Sunday sessions down the Newport listening in on other people’s lives, choking down the mill-grist like it was beer-battered, smothered in the bitter tartare of personal inexperience. And later, struggling to regurgitate it all in a coherent narrative arc before flushing it down the toilet of postmodern veneer, watching it gurgle back into itself, a formless, miasmatic, pre-digested mush, and then he’d weep, salty tears streaming forth like the rolling breakers, to wash away the shame of his own perceptual bulimia. Yeah, he’d been lucky. Because despite it all, he’d been the one to do it, the one against many, a dugong in a mangrove full of gnats. And here, in London – he shuddered. They were all dugongs, here.

rottobloggo says:
…Christ but London was cold. Colder than the heart of Mrs Daniels, the feared PE teacher at Albany SHS. Still, here he was in the Great Wen. The Great Wen…wending his way to more literary glory…when would the rumours about the Nobel start? It was comforting – as reassuring as a much-loved blind family dog farting under the old scored laminated kitchen table – that the impetuous creative instincts were flowing as freely as ever, despite being on the other side of the weary world.
“Tim. Tim. I’m going to throw you a curly one.”
Eh. He was in one of those classic Pommy pubs. Jeez, but you could tell no-one in this smoke-fugged small room had ever gutted a fish or fished the guts out of the emotion of scraping a living on the coast of the most isolated place on the blue planet.
“Tim. Tim. Mrs Gort wants to give you relief.”
Eh? He turned, and the lager must have made him leery – that and the jet-lag – and he was looking gobsmacked into the face of a bewhiskered Englishwoman of indeterminate age wielding a bag of dirt above her head.
“I want to show you your most seminal work, young man.”
The fear: it lanced through him like a young codgie who had been swept off the rocks at Lancelin in the blink of an eye. He gaped, like a goldfish sold at the markets who had run out of air in the little plastic bag, and wobbled his tired ponytailed head in panic.
“Onya Tim! Youse gunna show these Pommy bastards a thing or three, eh! I’d give my left nut to be with you at the Guild Hall in five minutes. Why don’t we point Percy at the porcelain to celebrate your triumph, eh mate?”
The big-chinned man with the big hat leered at him. He stank of beer and desperation and Earl’s Court. Tim tried to back away, but he felt the bile rising – too much Theakston? – and he raised his hands at the hideous cartoon figure who was confronting him as implacably as Sir Charles Court stared down a Nookanbah protestor.
He lost his footing, slid sideways – and found he was staring at the fuzz on the TV.
It had all been a nightmare.
His lungs were working harder than a sheep on the station as it went into the shed fearing the worst…

rottobloggo says:

His warm warm-beer scented breath gushed out of him in shallows as he stood on the spew-spattered pavement. A blur of successive images scored his sun-blasted retina: cloud, street, dirt, music from a beret-topped blueback…this part of old London Town was soupier with vibrancy than an open swimmer stroking his way through the goon-bag infested waters of Hyde Park…
Time for some shopping, and Harrods beckoned: really, this place thought itself flash but it was much the same as Donovan’s Newsagency in Albany. He strode through the halls and gazed at the produce and gee-gaws and trinkets: it was ever thus in the great bazaars of Marrakesh or Samarkand or Fremantle.
He was debating whether to get a scotch egg or two from the deli place when he heard an unmistakeable sound…
He left a gaping shop assistant in her frock and tie (‘That will be twelve pounds, sir….SIR’) and hastened on trembling pins to where the distress emanated…
He knew what it was before he turned the corner: the noise plucked at his heart like his good mate Jon Butler plucked expertly at an Angoran lute…the sound was like the silence of the Lops in the instant they knew they were going to form a major part of the famous Easter stew of 1968 at the B&S outside Chongalup…
He turned the corner and it was like being whacked in the nurries with that eye in the sky: Harrods, the shop that sold everything, had a dugong for sale…

NF#1 says:

And because he delighted in spending money while hating such horrible impedimenta with the contempt a seagull must feel for an empty Bernies box, he meandered listlessly along the street, fingering the crisp pound notes in his pocket, before coming upon one of those gigantic edifices wherein you can purchase anything in the world – from a copy of one of his own novels to a white elephant. Having got safely in, he at once began to ponder how he was to get safely out, for he had realized in the recent hours that with so little earth left to spend, except an indefinite amount of leisure, he must strive to spend that little with extreme deliberation.

Grasshopper says:

But wait, what was THAT, glistening gently under the flourescent lights that buzzed like a tired mayfly on a lazy summer day? Was it, could it be…
“Phwaor,” he murmured, “Haven’t seen that in yonks mate.” It was the complete series of Xena: Warrior Princess, all on Blu-Ray. How could a man be expected to turn a beaut score like that one down? All he had back home was a bunch of crappy VHS, the shitty visual media equivalent of Fosters to the Little Creatures of modern technology.
“VHS, pffft! Can’t even skip straight to the titty scenes with that shit!” he thought, absentmindedly shifting his underroos in a futile attempt to lessen the chafing. But now, NOW, he could watch Xena’s ample bosom heave like the surf in a winter’s storm, and all in HD! To marvel at the crackling dialogue, the epic plotlines worthy of Homer himself, the cut and thrust of speudo-sapphic repartee…It was like that time he got dragged to the Court with Andrew and wound up trying to pick up that pair of dyke sheilahs, except without security kickin’ ya out fer having a chunder over some poofter. Screw the dugong, he was gunna get THIS! And maybe some KY Jelly too.
As he pulled his wallet out of his bumbag – no thieves were gunna get near HIS bum, no sirree – the assorted photos the missus had slipped into his wallet scattered across the floor like a newspaper full of cold chips cast to a flock of waiting seagulls. As he bent down, one photo in particular caught his eye – a sepia-toned image of a buxom woman with a strong jawline, strangely familiar somehow. Phwaor, she was pretty hot, looked kinda like Xena. Maybe she was some family friend of Mum’s or something…

David Cohen says:

Christ: that had been a bit hairy. He’d got through the big doors and was wondering where you could get a cup of Bushells when there was a tapping on his shoulder.
He ignored it at first – he had no time to do autographs here – but it was as metronomic as a parched kookaburra trying to cajole the heavens to rain.
“Look, mate…” he said as he turned.
It was the cabbie. He opened his palms.
“The publisher will pay. I said already…”
More tapping and unintelligible noises, along with some eyebrow raising and head-turning. The bloke was more exciteable than than a bunch of bush mechanics that had ventured across a 1978 Ford Laser.
“Cobber, I reckon you’ve got…”
“Bllngghhmmnnhurggaaap.”
Stone the crows, and the kookaburras. This character was chiaking like he’d just seen the Nedlands Monster.
The little man ran back to his jalopy, turned back, and then waved his arms about.
Fear knifed through his guts like supercharged ambergris and he clutched at his genitals…
The manuscript…
After it was safely back in his backpack he berated himself: mate, losing one award-winning much-beloved universally-hailed vernacular masterpiece may be unfortunate, but losing two classes you as a Grade-A, genuine dill.
Good thing no-one saw – and at last he could have a quick recce around Harrod’s before his next assignation…

  • NF#1 says:

… but not before a quiet pint at the local he spied from the corner of one shrewd brown eye, puckered with jet-lag like a dingo’s arsehole. It was called The Cock and Bull he noticed as he stepped into its welcoming warmth. Several men looked up surlily from their beery meditations. Nope, none of them recognized him, hence the latent hostility. Could be the ponytail. He ordered an ale from a sunken-faced barmaid before sliding his bulk into an empty booth. The medieval stone of the walls diminished London’s roar to a purr; he was in his own world now, lovingly thumbing through the manuscript he had nearly left in the cab minutes before. He loved the earthy tactility of an MS; preferred it somehow to the slatternly easiness of it final mass-produced form. Might get this one done in hardback, he mused, if that cheap bastard publisher would spring for it. He opened to the first page and began to read his own cramped, meticulous handwriting:

“Phwoar,” he said. “Booker prize again.” This time they said he was due. Due like the Fremantle Doctor on one of those Cottesloe days when they would run chiacking into the surf, waving their kylies at each other, the skittish fish for now safe in the shallows.

He blinked and looked at his half empty beer. He’d never written that. An uncanny sense of belatedness took hold of him. He felt like a lone hapless full-forward: surrounded, tackled and taken to ground. It was as though everything he could say had been said before, or could be said by someone else. Jeez, must be tired, he thought, unable to shake off the unpleasant sensation of a moment ago. He squinted at a line halfway down the paragraph below: “Charlene? Cherie? Something like that, anyway – he had sunk a lot of piss that night after all.” No he hadn’t, not even emptied his first one. What was he thinking? The page slipped from his trembling fingers. It was distasteful to him now; what he once knew as wholesome repelled him as much as the softly salacious caress of a jellyfish against the legs of a boy joyfully chiacking in the Swan. Never had he seen anything to which the term ‘reading-matter seemed more appropriate – a flyblown pile of murky paper at least six inches high, seemingly mocking him from its place on the stained wooden table. Jeez, he thought, must be tired. ”You all right mate?” The harsh cockney syllables brought him back to his senses before he stumbled out again into the London night.

The Lazy Aussiesays:

He almost began to regret only bringing the footy shorts and Billlabong tanktop. He looked out of the hotel window. Looked chilly. Jeez wasn’t it supposed to be nearly fucken summer here? No wonder London was full of writers. Too cold to go chiaking. He slipped on the thongs. Hot Tuna. In his position he couldn’t be seen to be endorsing one surfwear company over another. Maybe he should have chucked in the bait stained Ripcurl windcheater the dogs were always humping and the slightly longer Piping Hot Boardies. At least they had a pocket. The footy shorts might be good for showing up Keneally’s coloured bow tie, but it was a bit light on for somewhere to stash your hard earned. He slipped the invite, with the underlined “YOU HAVE TO GO” from his agent into the moleskine with a few pound notes. “Bloody Booker photo op.”
They’d offered to send a driver with a Bentley, but he hadn’t wanted to look like a Class A cunt turning up at The Ritz in a Bentley. No, a minicab was good enough.
He stepped out of the revolving door int the street. The ponytail lifted his eyebrows as his scalp contracted in the cold. “Jeezarse!” Luckily the minicab was waiting, double parked. From this distance, the driver looked like an Aussie cab driver. Foreign. Moustache.

Gratefully he started to jog the few steps. “Fuck me drunk!” One me Hot Tuna’s has let go!” Double bunger too. He kicked them off where he stood.

“G’day mate. Ritz thanks.”

354 Responses to The Wintoning Project

  1. The Beginning.
    “Phwoar,” he said. “Booker prize again.” This time they said he was due. Due like the Fremantle Doctor on one of those Cottesloe days when they would run chiaking into the surf, waving their kylies at each other, the skittish fish for now safe in the shallows. He looked at the half empty backpack. Tuxedo or footy shorts? Either way he’d look like a tit in London unless he won. Then the scoops and Billabong singo would look like a masterstroke. The tux was too tight. The gut had trebled in size since the awful night Yann Martel and his ridiculous Life of Pi had dashed his hopes last time. He tried on the strides. He sucked it in and could almost pull up the zip. Maybe they’d do if he didn’t have to sit down. And if he won, there would be no need to sit would there? But what if he lost? Again. It was unthinkable. He could already imagine the hot stain of shame on his face and the stares as he stood like some high school dickhead while Coetzee or even worse Peter Fucking Carey took to the podium. His scrotum tightened like a sun faded piece of nylon rope wrapped around the prop shaft of a crayboat.
    No, definitely the shorts and singlet.

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  2. Ganondorf says:

    The sores were weeping again, his manhood shedding pustulent tears like a teenage mother denied her Baby Bonus. “Phwaor…” he exhaled, his trepiditious breath as gentle as the play of windswept sand at Trigg on a balmy spring day. “It must have been that sheilah on the dunes over the weekend. Phwaor.” It had been a fun evening for all, celebrating the marriage of Australia’s own Prince Willsy and his radiant bride Katie. The air had been swollen with romance, a refreshing spray of relief amid the tide of hectic drudgery of modern life. What HAD the woman’s name been, anyway? Charlene? Cherie? Something like that, anyway – he HAD sunk a lot of piss that night after all. Though her name might have been lost in the murky depths of forgotten memory the experience itself was not; even now the recollection brought a grin to his face, albeit one soon interrupted by the irritable sensation ebbing from his crotch. “Bugger this,” he thought, “I’ll go and see the Doc tomorrow, maybe get some pills or sumthing, and it’ll all be fine. A little itch isn’t gunna stop me, not when I’m so close to the Booker.” His determination renewed, he pulled up his tracky dacks and put on a fresh T-Shirt. Just thinking about the pride on the faces of his three kids as he won the Booker gave him renewed strength and purpose, like the shifting tide on a full moon.

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  3. don smith says:

    So he spat a goober into the air and it floated in the on shore wind like Mal Brown’s torpedo in the dying stages of the 1974 Grand Final. Landed on a rose petal and reminded him of the English rose who got hitched the day before. “Looks like a good sort” he thought to himself, “Bet she’d pull her weight on a prawn trawler.” Then, out of habit, he headed down towards the White Sands for a game of soggy biscuit before remembering he was a dad, a Vogel winner and a Christian. “It’s bloody fiction Tim!” he swore to himself as the dying embers of a crusty surfer’s fag floated past him in the
    glint of the sunset. “Bloody fiction! Full of dirty filthy gutsy manly adjectives that were all the craze about fifty years ago.”

    Then, in the distance, he could see the crippled gate of Jacko, or Mick, or Trev, or was it Boggo? Who cares, it was a man drenched in the harsh weather of any number of Australian cliches; and as he moved closer he could almost feel the radiance of the man’s sunburn in the last rays of evening light.

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  4. rottobloggo says:

    Time for a coffee to keep the creative juices on the go. He sauntered down to Bobbi’s and gave the chick behind the Rancilio the nod.
    “Not too much foam this time, ay, Ballet?”
    She scowled. Jeez but it was hard to get a friendly gesture in this town these days. A lot of cappuccino had flowed under the pontoon since they had upped sticks from the bush. He tried to tally the years as he nested in a gaudy bean-bag and reached for the papers…too many. Like olive oil leaking from a busted jar in the Freo Markets hemp bag, so were the days of our lives.
    A quick squizz of the newsprint showed Clive James had leukemia, Manning Clark had verbal diarrhea, and the critics were creaming their jeans over some new American bird named Tea Obreht. Nothing about him. Well, that would soon change. As surely as the dugong dived deeper in the Hyde Park depths to escape the sound of a jogger being Tasered, he would be standing on the Guild Hall podium, like a pimply grommet proudly hugging the rails of his first McTavish.
    Shit, he’d forgotten his Moleskin. He was about to give Bobbi a hoy to bring over some butcher’s paper – was she growing the beans, fer Chrissake – when he saw who was about to come in through the flystrips…

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  5. Jaidyn-Jaxxon says:

    Phwoar, he breathed. You wouldn’t believe it. Couldn’t if you tried, if you wanted to, even if you thought you could, not that you’d know. It was always the way. And as always, that flood of memories, backed up like we all used to get on those tedious sunbaked arvoes when you’d get up early, go down the rocks to eat chips and pick at chitons while your Dad had a go at tightening the brakes, and later head out the markets to browse and barter, fossick and fartarse among the cabbage tips and grubby stalls in hope of somehow scoring a couple of Redskins gratis, and then when you’d all finally consented to go home the fucken train’d cut yas off with twenty minutes to go, blurring past in a rattling, racketing mockery of your own stymied movements, down below. And you’d get there to face the inevitable, that simultaneous surge to the dunny, squabbling like seagulls while your tea went cold. Memories, eh.

    No, you wouldn’t believe it, seeing her now, seeing her here, of all places. Here on the Strip, where every frothy sip carried memories of its own, where every bite of bruschetta sang lilting hymnals to the better days as it slipped down your gullet. Here, where one could simply be, and be bettered. He knew all about that. He smirked into his cap mac. Would she recognise him? Of course she would – eventually – but give it ’til she’s ordered, eh? Savour the moment. And just look at her. Still so fresh and vivacious after all these years – a couple of scrapes along the way, no doubt; and thinking about it, he could see an extra Chinese character or two wending their way up her arms. Peace, no doubt, and probably Harmony too, knowing her. Did she still smell the same, he wondered, that dark, sweet salt scent, like a bluey in the sun, like a pound of mangoes cast up on the dunes and left to bleach. He’d missed her; she was a classic. And it truly hadn’t felt the same, hunting the breakers or knotting the hemp or whatever bloody else he’d tried to wad into those empty years since that day she’d-

    Nuh. She’d walked straight past. The bitch. She’d taken her fucken soy chai latte and left the building. Not so much as a star-struck sigh; not good enough. He swung out of the booth, a slow rolling turn like a dugong in a rip, lumbered to his feet and cap mac in hand, followed her out into that florid bustle, dodging and weaving as ably as he could between the doddering Germans and Spearwood skanks, darting round the crimson-rinsed and menopaused, shoving aside those splendid true believers in their ropey locks and rattan trousers – would they ever, truly die out? – and only, barely, managing to keep sight of her bead-bound hair and awkward bum as she sauntered off ahead in her scintillant pashmina.

    Becky! he called. Becky! Becky! It’s me!

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  6. closedmouth says:

    Did you really think that was a legitimate Wikipedia article?

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  7. rottobloggo says:

    Her head turned and he caught a organ-wrenching glimpse of the beaten gold in her highlights – he had nearly caught up with her – Becky! – and he thought he better not seem out of breath – he didn’t want to look like one of those puffed-up blowies panting their last on the rocks at the West End before the surging deep came to claim them – hey Becky! – and as the opening gambits tussled behind his feverish brow her eyes met his.
    What are ya fucken lookin at cunt?
    Faaark and Chrissakes.
    She was a bloody tranny!
    His arms waved like the blades on the wind farm on the hills outside Albany.
    Mate, sorry, I thought you were…
    Fuck off.
    As she – he – made a beeline for Timezone he felt like he’d been dumped hard on the ocean floor at Hillarys, then had his face rasped along the granulated floor.
    The red corpuscles surged around his torso and his heart was pounding louder than the terrible din made by two alpha-male dugongs battlin to see who would impregnate this season’s prize cow, but it was if he was made of lifeless metal even stiller than the Bon Scott statue around the corner…

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  8. He slunk back to the house, the cool darkness of the verandah swallowing him, back to the safety of the womb. Womb. Shit. The thought reminded him of his itchy todger again. He stomped back to the worn red laminated kitchen table, his steps booming like the noon gun at The Roundhouse on the wide, smooth, century old jarrah boards. He’d escape it all on the trip back to the Old Dart for the Bookers anyway.
    He pulled open the envelope and scanned the ticket again. First Class. Yep. Of course it was. But the thought still nagged at him like the announcer at the public pool kiosk all those years ago as they practiced frog kick and then lay on the hot concrete to warm their young bodies…Maybe he should have specified? He could still call Qantas. Nah ridiculous. Leaving from Perth, there was no chance he’d be sitting next to Thomas Keneally. Jesus, 18 hours listening to that prick…He must remember to take the ipod though just in case. Even Keneally couldn’t talk through three hours of John Butler. Could he?

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  9. Grasshopper says:

    Suddenly the phone rang out, its obnoxious tones as jarring as an overfed seagull hovering over an uncovered bowl of potato salad. He picked up the receiver.
    “Hello?”
    “Timothy? Is that you, son?”
    Jesus, it was Mum. ‘For Flipper’s sakes, I don’t have time for this crap!’ he thought. ‘Doesn’t she know how busy I am?’
    How many times did he have to tell the bloody nursing home not to let the senile old bat hassle him unless it was an emergency? What was it this time, more gross stories about kerosene baths? Not for the first time he cursed Today Tonight for putting crazy ideas in the loony old bag’s head – he never should have let her have that television in her room.
    ‘Oh well,’ he mused. ‘blood is thicker than water, I suppose if I can spare five minutes if it’ll get her off my back…’
    Aloud, he answered “Yair Mum, it’s your little nipper. How’s things at Ebbing Tides?”
    “What? Speak up sonny, I’ve lost my hearing aid again.”
    “HI MUM, HOW ARE YOU?”
    “Don’t shout dear, it’s very bad manners. I’m not deaf you know.”
    ‘No,’ he thought. ‘You’re just as mad as a galah.’
    “Whaddaya want, Mum? I’m in the middle of something important here.”
    “I can’t find your father anywhere, is he visiting with you?”
    Oh God, not this again.
    “Mum, Dad’s dead. He’s been dead for years. That’s why me and the kids bought you that goldfish, to keep you company.”
    “Oh…Are you sure, son? I’m sure I was talking to him just a few hours ago.”
    “YES I’m sure Mum. It’s just the dementia making you all confused again.”
    “Oh…well, how are the grandkids? I’d love to see them sometime, maybe you could bring them for a visit next weekend? Just half an hour? I’d love to see you you know…”
    “Well, I’d really like to Mum, you know I would, but I’m just drowning with work at the moment. Maybe in a few weeks or something.”
    ‘There, that should buy me some time.’ he thought.
    “Oh. OK. Sorry to bother you son.”
    “Anyway, I have to go now Mum. Was that everything?”
    “Actually…”
    “OK then, bye Mum.” he said, hanging up.
    ‘I really have to get a phone with caller ID.’ he mused to himself, absentmindedly scratching around the old meat ‘n two veg. ‘Now where was I again?’

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  10. NF#1 says:

    Later, after the wife and kids had gone to bed, he kicked off his sandals and slumped into his old hemp-cloth beanbag. As much as he hated to admit it, thoughts of the trip to London tomorrow made his stomach flutter, much like a tightly balled school of whiting, blindly darting and butting heads, desperate to disperse as the ocean almost imperceptibly vibrated to the thrum of an approaching fishing boat. A movie would make him feel better, settle him down like the old milko depositing the daily pair of perspirating milk-bottles at the doorstep of his boyhood home. Getting up and opening the cupboard door, he rummaged past the Wiggles DVDs, his fingers finding his own stash right at the back. He pulled a case out at random – nah, not that one; the wife might still get up; gotta conserve anyway – before a decision, almost unbidden, flashed through the god-like prose whirlpool of his mind. Finding the one he wanted after a couple more misfires, he loaded up the DVD player and returned to his womb-like seat. Fuckin’ remote, prick of a thing. His weathered hand felt several inches of cool slate, knocking aside several wooden toys, before finding it. Always made him feel better, watching The Adventures of Bazza Mackenzie. His Dad used to like it – would let out great ripping laughs like a wombat regurgitating a 1080 bait – so it had in its own way become a family tradition. But clearly he got something out of it his Dad never did. Poor bugger never got to travel much, stuck in Albany most of his adult life, teaching – or trying to teach – a seemingly endless stream of inbred ingrates, many of whom mocked the son’s writerly aspirations, questioned his sexuality. I am a man, he reflected, with a wife and three kids. Which of them had ever come to anything? The screen flickered into life, bathing the room in a weird chiaroscuro. The whole film read as a what-not-to-do for the Aussie in London. Stuck up pricks. Still, not as struck up as that Malouf cunt. Hope he’s not there. Anyway, Bazza was getting off the plane now, just like he would be in little under a day.

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  11. edwarddebozo says:

    Sorry folks but it’s getting a little too compelling now

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  12. rottobloggo says:

    …Christ but London was cold. Colder than the heart of Mrs Daniels, the feared PE teacher at Albany SHS. Still, here he was in the Great Wen. The Great Wen…wending his way to more literary glory…when would the rumours about the Nobel start? It was comforting – as reassuring as a much-loved blind family dog farting under the old scored laminated kitchen table – that the impetuous creative instincts were flowing as freely as ever, despite being on the other side of the weary world.
    “Tim. Tim. I’m going to throw you a curly one.”
    Eh. He was in one of those classic Pommy pubs. Jeez, but you could tell no-one in this smoke-fugged small room had ever gutted a fish or fished the guts out of the emotion of scraping a living on the coast of the most isolated place on the blue planet.
    “Tim. Tim. Mrs Gort wants to give you relief.”
    Eh? He turned, and the lager must have made him leery – that and the jet-lag – and he was looking gobsmacked into the face of a bewhiskered Englishwoman of indeterminate age wielding a bag of dirt above her head.
    “I want to show you your most seminal work, young man.”
    The fear: it lanced through him like a young codgie who had been swept off the rocks at Lancelin in the blink of an eye. He gaped, like a goldfish sold at the markets who had run out of air in the little plastic bag, and wobbled his tired ponytailed head in panic.
    “Onya Tim! Youse gunna show these Pommy bastards a thing or three, eh! I’d give my left nut to be with you at the Guild Hall in five minutes. Why don’t we point Percy at the porcelain to celebrate your triumph, eh mate?”
    The big-chinned man with the big hat leered at him. He stank of beer and desperation and Earl’s Court. Tim tried to back away, but he felt the bile rising – too much Theakston? – and he raised his hands at the hideous cartoon figure who was confronting him as implacably as Sir Charles Court stared down a Nookanbah protestor.
    He lost his footing, slid sideways – and found he was staring at the fuzz on the TV.
    It had all been a nightmare.
    His lungs were working harder than a sheep on the station as it went into the shed fearing the worst…

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  13. Grasshopper says:

    He jerked awake from his slumber, flailing like a sinking corpse spooking a school of electric eels. The telly was hissing static, the movie long ended – he must have fallen asleep on the bag again. His shuddering form was beaded with a cold sweat, like the dew-laden grass of Monument Hill on a chilly autumn morning. He’d had another nightmare too, he recalled: a gargantuan floating wizened hand wielding a ghostly phantom pen, writing page after infernal page of the same clumsy, nonsensical verse while he, again the larrikin child he had been in his carefree youth, looked on bound and helpless. It sometimes felt as if he were floating on a dark sea of clouds of interminable torturous ennui, unable even to scream. It was the helplessness that made the phantasm so terrifying – as if he were stuck on an eternally looping rythm of repetitive torment. Always the same dream, always the same…
    “I’m such a FRAUD!” He broke down, head buried in his hands. “I’ll NEVER win the Booker! How I ever became a successful author is beyond me, I’m such a worthless HACK!” His flowing tears slid down his quaking hands, slicking them as wet and slippery as a fish freshly delivered to Kailis Brothers, thence to succor the ravenous maw of a hungry working family. He sobbed, sobbed like a child, his tears a harsh and unforgiving rain across the barren landscape of his tortured soul. Yet still, STILL, the tears were nothing compared to his inner shame and disgust, his enormous sense of self-loathing. The secret knowledge, that he was flawed, base and disgusting, a man of a thousand failings unworthy of the great life he had somehow managed to scam out of the great sea of life. It sometimes seemed that the better life got, the more books he published, the more awards he won, the worse the dread inner emptiness became.
    He got up and made his way to the kitchen. No getting back to sleep after The Dream, might as well get a coffee. “Maybe I’ll take a walk, get some fresh air.” he mused aloud. At least it’d get his mind off the incessant throbbing in his unmentionables. How could it have gotten so much more insistent in just a few hours? Well, can’t do anything about it now. His mind made up, he woke up the dogs sleeping on the living room futon, put on their leashes, and strode out into the night.

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  14. Jaidyn-Jaxxon says:

    Phwoar, he breathed, the evening mist curling out of that blunt shark-end he called a face and wisping away into itself like a moonlit caress, one of those silent numbers you’d bestow upon yourself behind the scallop sheds while the rest of your family whistled and whooped to the Skyworks telecast next door. It’s cold. Beside him, Mentelle and Lamont, snug in their tartan blankets, trotted just that little bit faster. Easy girls, he muttered. Easy. Can’t keep up with yas.

    They rounded the block, reached the end of the street – rebellious as ever, he slipped ‘em over the train tracks and they scampered off up to the promontory – his quiet place. From here, it was all so peaceful, so still; the silent, rocking yachts, cormorants lurking in their amber silhouettes. Shoulda brought a thermos, he reckoned; too fucken cold. But he’d made the effort, and phwoar, no use getting a coronary on the way back. Have a rest, take it in. He bundled the dogs up close, felt their warmth bleed through against his shins, their comfort. Tough times, he muttered to himself. This bloody Booker. He didn’t have it in him, he knew; this time it wasn’t the same. They were wise to it – they were counting the rhythm, now, they were waiting with suspended breath for every seamless analogy, every nostalgic rambling, every laconic colloquialism to just tumble out on cue, each as stale as the last, like those wholesale packs of Chiko’s they’d used to find, out behind the dunnies down the drags on those dusty, frenzied nights when young dreamers truly could afford to lie back on the cool gravel under the stars and just imagine what it was going to be like, once they’d made it, once they didn’t have to struggle any more. And how much more could he contrive? Could he really endure yet another gust of satisfied sighs? Or would he falter and collapse, like a palace made from sand, or was it sandstone, on the very brink of the glorious blue itself?

    He’d been cutting it fine, anyway, that was for sure. Breath, Land’s Edge – and now Flow, his metaphysical masterpiece, his ticket to the Booker – or so they’d told him, down at FACP. Was he asking too much of himself? Or was it they who did the asking, his readership, those dear parochial gourmands who kept demanding more, more, like those clamoring fairy penguins they all used to find back on those balmy afternoons when but SHUT UP he screamed to himself and of course he gave it to them didn’t he, always reaching further and further within himself for more tiresome similes with which to choke their gaping throats. The truth was, these days he fucken hated fishing and he couldn’t surf for shit. There, he’d said it; he smirked to himself in the darkness, as dew settled on his still-flushed cheeks. Could still knock back a couple dozen Little Creatures though. For what it was worth. Which as he knew, extended about as far as Shenton Park.

    Fucken dugongs.

    But he’d touched on the truth – there was no comfort. Even the shiftless harbour’s copper-lacquered blackness failed to move him – just another bloody reminder of the ordeal to come, of the unrelenting THEME that had him by the very guts of him. Convincing half a dozen cunts in fancy ties that yes, he had yet again produced the greatest feat in modern English – and that yes, as his agent had claimed, his product was indeed a formless, characterless, atemporal solipsism of pure theoretical hydrodynamics, a work of sheer waterness and coastalness and liquid recollection – or was it reflection? He made a note to check the flyleaf. It was too audacious, he knew it – and really, it wasn’t him, wasn’t… salty enough. Flow was bound to fail. It couldn’t work. His public, he knew, would never stand for it… unless…

    Phwoar. A mirrored cover. What a bloody beautiful idea.

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    • I can’t approve these fast enough.

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    • rottobloggo says:

      Swoon, gasp, drown – like the old craypot poacher who, on a dare, lumbers out on one last crazy illicit moonstruck night of trying to capture the lost salty AAAHH!

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    • NF#1 says:

      I give up. Shame to us all.

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    • zuben says:

      can we have a tim winton play now please?

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      • It’s possible.

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      • More than possible

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        • Shreiking Wombat Ninja says:

          Fuck Winton. I’m sticking with Malcolm Tucker:

          “FUCK’S SAKE! JESUS CHRIST! Well, now we’ve got another fuckin’ adjective to add to fuckin’ ‘smug’ and ‘glum’, haven’t we? ‘FUCKIN’ RETARDED!’ Jesus Chri– Do you not think it would be germane to check who you’re talking to? IT’S A FUCKIN’ NEWSPAPER OFFICE! IT’S NOT A FUCKIN’ SANATORIUM FOR THE FUCKIN’ DEAF, IS IT? ARE YOU SO DENSE?! AM I GONNA HAVE TO RUN AROUND SLAPPING BADGES ON PEOPLE WITH A BIG TICK ON SOME AND A BIG CROSS ON OTHERS SO YOU KNOW WHEN TO SHUT YOUR GOB AND WHEN TO OPEN IT?! Jesus Christ! OH, BUT THAT’D PROBABLY CONFUSE YOU AS WELL, WON’T IT? THAT’D BE TOO CONFUSING, YOU’D SEE THE CROSS AND GO “OH, FUCK, X MARKS THE SPOT! I’D BETTER TELL THIS LITTLE PERSON ABOUT THE PRIME MINISTER’S FUCKING CATASTROPHIC ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION! Oh, but not to worry, not to worry. You’ve sent fuckin’ Ollie over there to deal with it. FUCKIN’ OLLIE! HE’S A FUCKIN’, HE’S A FUCKIN, KNITTED SCARF, THAT TWAT! HE’S A FUCKIN’ BALACLAVA!”

          ——————————————————————————–

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  15. NF#1 says:

    Alternate version of Tim’s last night in Freo before the big trip:

    The Fremantle night was quiet and cool. Signs of last night’s larrikin revelry were writ large on the South Terrace footpaths: patches of dried vomit, somehow redolent of the splatter of fish guts on the North Mole rocks; broken glass, winking like the afternoon sun on the stretch of ship studded sea, which spread toward the coast from Rotto like a gently rippling cape – not unlike the only barely metaphorical cape he might wear, should the judges determine correctly in awarding him his rightful prize. Gino’s was closed, dammit, so he crossed the road to gaze into Elizabeth’s darkened shopfront. To the casual observer, as casual perhaps as a sun-baked Bremmer Bay beach barbeque, he couldn’t be looking through the window, for it was almost pitch dark inside, yet he also couldn’t be staring solely at his own reflection. Concentrating now, he saw his own name loom forth from the shop’s dark: “Staff Recommendation: 2011 Man Booker nominee, Tim Winton – his finest novel….” He couldn’t make out any more. Which one? So many to choose from, whether the watery sibilance of Breath, or the earthy and yet airily homiletic pungence of Dirt Music. That’s what one of the critics said, anyway – not too bad for one of them, complimentary enough, but failed writers to the last, bastards. The nosing of his dogs around his tanned ankles recalled him to the here and now, but not before he noted with considerable satisfaction several copies of The Potato Factory in the five dollar bin. He inwardly smirked: what did Bryce ever win? As his eyes continued to adjust to the dark, he saw the shelf-talker’s final detail in all of its tepid obviousness: Clodstreet. Can’t even spell. Punters and pundits both, would they ever move on, or would his legacy forever be mired in the fates of the Pickles and Lambs? Pays the bills, I s’pose, he mused; pays for the dugong sanctuary in Shark Bay. No point hating his public: good, honest, salt of the earth readers – know what they like and like what they know. Who was he, or anyone else for that matter, to judge? Man Booker adjudicators be damned. As he turned home, he felt as resolute as one of the Pinnacle’s ancient limestone spires, pointing at the sky as though turning a mocking upturned finger to the gods, of earth and heaven or of Literature he could not at that moment decide.

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  16. To be slotted in at appropriate spot.

    He stared at the vacant seat next to him and then up at the battleaxed Qantas stewardess guarding the door like some ancient alcoholic Cerberus. “Shut it!” He thought. “Shut the fucking door!” He should have paid for the extra seat next to him. He could have strapped his guitar in there, or at least his jumbo Moleskine. “Shut the fucking door!” Why was he doing this to himself? But he knew why. The Booker. The Booker deficit was hanging round his neck like a Metters number 8 stove. Any cunt could win a Vogel. Shit hadn’t that fraud Demidenko won it once? And Premiers awards? Premiers. What had that dumb cunt Alan Carpenter said to him that time, pointing at Mark McGowan? “You’re his greatest fan?” He had sipped quickly on his Dogbolter, not trusting himself to say anything. He had difficulty remembering those shit awards, and even the works he had submitted. Which book had he written about the kid having an underwater shit in The Swan? It sounded like Lockie Leonard, but he kept thinking Cloudstreet. Whatever. Didn’t matter now. Fuck it.

    Surely that was it now. He looked around first class. It was the only seat not taken. There couldn’t be any more passengers.
    He lifted the armrest and started relaxing and spreading out his stuff. He closed his eyes and felt a ripple of pleasure run down his gut. “Ahhhh.” He considered dropping in to Harley Street when he got to London. Knock the knob-rot on the head. Was there actually a Harley Street or was it a largely mythical place? Like Point Peron? Arundhati Roy would know.

    Hideously he was woken from his reverie by the dropping of a books on the seat next to him. Wildly he opened his eyes and stared. Fuck. Dirt Music. Plop. Another book fell. Australia’s Funniest Serial Killers. Yikes! He lifted his gaze and stared into the demented, cackling maw of, gulp – No! Liz Byrski! He looked up into the Walkley Award winning maw of Colleen Egan!

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    • NF#1 says:

      Great, however much I wish he could be seated next to Estelle Blackburn. I can’t wait to see the whole business edited into a single piece. M’piece, mebbe. Surely there’s a market…

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    • I’ve changed it. Colleen was better.

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    • And the door finally shut. Locking her in with him. She was already babbling about her next book, “Andrew Mallard, The Last Ten Minutes.” He looked away and fumbled with the ipod, fingers desperate for the volume and suddenly, mercifully, John Butler’s Zebra was lilting and sizzling like whitebait in a pan of extra virgin on High Street – but what fresh hell was this? Egan was poking him in the ribs, like a gidgee ripping into one of those big devious Swan River flatheads who’d gone after one prawn too many. He tried to ignore it, shutting his eyes and begging Butler to pacify his mind, but the cackling harpy had the gall to pull out one earbud. He opened his eyes and was caught like a quokka in the path of a pair of pissed horny schoolies on one wobbly bike. They were all standing around him, Egan, the hostess, even the cabin crew. The plane door was open again and standing there sheepishly, plastic ID tag twisting and reflecting the light like a Gage Roads buoy on a hot velvet summer night was an Asian man holding – what? Holding his manuscript!
      “Tim you dumb plonker,” crowed Egan, taking the man’s burden as he nodded and smiled, backing away, “you’ve only left your next book in the Qantas club dunnies! One bucket to many eh?” She started to riffle through the pages, batting off his attempts to retrieve the treasure. “What have we got here? “His scrotum tightened like a sun faded piece of nylon rope wrapped round the prop shaft of a crayboat..? Whoa saucy!”
      What he wouldn’t have given to be Thomas Keneally right now.

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      • Grasshopper says:

        A few hours later and Egan was still yammering away like Adele Carles at a skank convention. God’s boardies, the woman just wouldn’t shut up! He’d been hitting the vino to try to cope – turns out the stupid airline didn’t stock Little Creatures, he’d have to complain to his agent about that – but if anything it had only made the droning more unbearable. Worse still, with the hours he’d spent fruitlessly searching through the medicine cabinet for the Canestan at home he’d somehow forgotten to charge his iPod, and it’d conked out 5 minutes into the flight, just like he had on his wedding night. Pity the same couldn’t be said for Egan – if he wanted to be bored senseless by some overopinionated sheilah he could have taken up Julie Bishop’s dinner offer fer fuck’s sake. And just to add insult to injury Egan was drinking him under the fold-down tray as well. Shifting uncomfortably in his seat, he signalled the nearest waitress – the little hottie whose arse he’d been checking out for most of the flight – to bring him another bottle, nodding absentmindedly at whatever the old bat was droning on about now. Oh crap, that had been a question…
        “Sorry Col, I was off with the dolphins for sec there. What was that again?”
        “No worries Tim. I was just wondering, don’t you ever get tired of, you know, writing the same sort of thing over and over again?”
        Oh God, was it that obvious? Faaark.
        “Whaddaya mean?” he asked, as nonchalantly as was possible with his buttocks clenching like a rock crab’s claws latched onto bait in a crabnet.
        “Well, I mean…sorry, I think I’ve overdone it on the piss. I was just thinking about how tired you must get of having to regurgitate the same material over and over again. I mean, back when I was looking into the Mallard case there were times I just wanted to pack it all in and start over, y’know what I mean? Do something fresh and original.”
        Oh God, she KNEW.
        “I don’t think my writing is repetitive at all, Col. There’s lots of variety in what I do. Just look at how may kids read my books – ya don’t reckon Cloudstreet’d be so popular if it was just some clumsy rehash do ya?”
        “Oh, come on Tim! The only reason kids these days read Cloudstreet is ‘cos they have to for school. Jeez, it’s hard enough getting kids to open a book at all these days, let alone an overblown out of date borefest like Cloudstreet.”
        “Well, what about Breath, then? That was pretty original, eh? Eh?”
        His own breathing was getting pretty heavy, like a ship full of lead pulling into Freo harbor. Good God, where was that stewardess with the damn plonk?
        “Take it easy, Tim, you’re getting pretty worked up there. I wasn’t saying…”
        “Wasn’t saying what? That I’m a one-trick pony?! A has-been?! Well, what have YOU done lately Egan?! Huh?”
        “Sir, you’re disturbing the other passengers.” It was the stewardess. “I’m going to have to ask you to calm down, sir.”
        “FUCK YOU, YOU WORTHLESS BITCH! How about instead of nagging me you HURRY THE FUCK UP and BRING ME MY FUCKEN WINE ALREADY!”
        “I think you’ve had enough wine already, sir. Now please, stop causing a scene or I’ll have to…”
        “FUCK YOU! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? I’M TIM FUCKEN WINTON! I’VE BEEN NAMED A LIVING FUCKEN TREASURE BY THE FUCKEN NATIONAL TRUST! WHO’RE YOU, YOU COCKSUCKING WHORE? YOU’RE NOBODY, THAT’S WHO!”
        “Tim, calm down!” Egan hissed. “You’re embarassing yourself.”
        “FUCK YOU EGAN!”
        Before he knew it his shaking fist was lashing out, speeding towards Egan’s face like the limited stop train to Armadale…

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        • Grasshopper says:

          That should have been ‘out of Freo harbor’ rather than ‘into’.
          Also, I bet Colleen Egan could kick Winty’s arse in a fistfight.

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        • rottobloggo says:

          Wonderful.

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        • Bill O'Slatter says:

          Fact check. Winton never goes to Armadale.

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          • Grasshopper says:

            He probably doesn’t have an STD from a random hookup during the Royal Wedding and hasn’t put his senile mum into a dodgy nursing home either.
            Yay fiction!

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            • Bill O'Slatter says:

              Just to clarify things here, we are talking about the writer’s range.

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            • And the first time I actually write a tweet that’s 100% true, I get accused of being an unfunny nobody! I’m sticking to fiction.

              Dixie Marshall to head Opus Dei. “Obviously the celibacy is a problem, but as for shadowy political skulduggery, Channel 9 management has t…

              @theworstofperth how is this funny? There is not even a slight link. Lame sorry and smacks of she’s somebody and I’m nobody syndrome. @perthtrainsguy

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  17. Pete says:

    Heh, the Sea Shepherd was in dry dock recently, I wonder what they used for anti-fouling on the hull? Patchouli oil?

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      • Bento says:

        Ooh, it’s like that ‘would you kill Hitler’ game!

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      • Jaidyn-Jaxxon says:

        Came on to post this. Currently has 30 likes on Tim’s FB page.

        ‘”Everywhere I travel, people seem to want to sell me drugs or buy them from me, so I’ve had to learn to shake them off and press on. Maybe it’s the hair,” he breathed in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Herald Sun this week.”
        He may well have done. Statistically probable, I’d say, since that’s pretty much Jason Steger’s version of the quote, word for word, and has in fact been the exact syntax every time anyone’s tediously rebleated it since (one presumes) the day after it happened. I’d say I was astonished that the Herald Sun had dared to claim a scoop on this, but then seeing as everyone I’ve ever heard puke up this sloppy turd of an urban myth claims to have heard all the excruciating details during some secret beachside tete-a-tete with the great man while the sun slowly spilled its peaches-and-cream splendour across the quivering swell and AUUURGHGHG, I guess we can just put it down to his solidly dependable down-to-earth ‘forgetfulness’.

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  18. RubyRuby says:

    I don’t know who she is, yet, but Liz Byrski will be doing a meet, greet, buy my book and I’ll sign it-session at City of Perth Library, 12.30-1.30pm, Thursday 5 May.

    I’m intrigued by her posters up around the joint – apparently women need to band together and examine themselves to find “if there is any age where a woman is allowed to be” or some such rubbish. But it was too late – I’d already borrowed “Food, Sex & Money” for tonight’s bus read…

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  19. NF#1 says:

    London, he thought. Phwoar. Capitol of the world; of the universe. They’d treated him like shit at Heathrow. Because of his long hair, perhaps; thought he was carrying drugs. He thought they’d recognize him. Once the initial indignation had worn off, left to his own devices in the London-cold cab-rank, he felt like Jude, perhaps forever cast into the shadowy obscurity of snobbism and neglect, not unlike the lone prawn that slipped from the otherwise enclosing net to wash under the jetty, only to be recaptured but tossed aside by the schoolboys who chiacked in the shade of the slowly rotting wooden Cottesloe shingles overhead; in other moments like an old colonial, squinting into the fierce midday sun, full of trepidation and yet raising himself proud, like a lion coursing through the foaming Geraldton surf. They know how to write here, he reflected; how to speak – won’t fool anyone with mere earnestness and god-given honesty. This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England. Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth: all salt of the earth, no time for that all that modernist, or, even worse, po-mo, bullshit; he followed in their footsteps. Good writers – said what they meant and meant what they said. The anxiety of influence was nothing to him, as original, proud, and erect as he was. Much like Nelson’s Column, which momentarily loomed over his cab as it sped across Trafalgar Square. The cabby barely spoke – Paki bastard – but seemed as hungry for the eventual five-star destination, or a quick fare – he didn’t know which – as a baby dugong blindly yet assuredly groping for its mother’s teat.

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    • NF#1 says:

      C’mon – that’s good. Especially the first part. In the words of HJ, an amusette for the curious, Coco.

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      • Grasshopper says:

        It is good, but there’s so much characterisation we could heap on Winty ‘twixt returning home and arriving the airport. He hasn’t even slapped his wife around or leched at his daughter yet!

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  20. skink says:

    I was trying to find the excellent bit of Wintoning written about the incident when Mrs Skink bumped into His Timness in the ladies toilet at Amuse

    any idea where I might find it?

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  21. David Cohen says:

    Christ: that had been a bit hairy. He’d got through the big doors and was wondering where you could get a cup of Bushells when there was a tapping on his shoulder.
    He ignored it at first – he had no time to do autographs here – but it was as metronomic as a parched kookaburra trying to cajole the heavens to rain.
    “Look, mate…” he said as he turned.
    It was the cabbie. He opened his palms.
    “The publisher will pay. I said already…”
    More tapping and unintelligible noises, along with some eyebrow raising and head-turning. The bloke was more exciteable than than a bunch of bush mechanics that had ventured across a 1978 Ford Laser.
    “Cobber, I reckon you’ve got…”
    “Bllngghhmmnnhurggaaap.”
    Stone the crows, and the kookaburras. This character was chiaking like he’d just seen the Nedlands Monster.
    The little man ran back to his jalopy, turned back, and then waved his arms about.
    Fear knifed through his guts like supercharged ambergris and he clutched at his genitals…
    The manuscript…
    After it was safely back in his backpack he berated himself: mate, losing one award-winning much-beloved universally-hailed vernacular masterpiece may be unfortunate, but losing two classes you as a Grade-A, genuine dill.
    Good thing no-one saw – and at last he could have a quick recce around Harrod’s before his next assignation…

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    • NF#1 says:

      … but not before a quiet pint at the local he spied from the corner of one shrewd brown eye, puckered with jet-lag like a dingo’s arsehole. It was called The Cock and Bull he noticed as he stepped into its welcoming warmth. Several men looked up surlily from their beery meditations. Nope, none of them recognized him, hence the latent hostility. Could be the ponytail. He ordered an ale from a sunken-faced barmaid before sliding his bulk into an empty booth. The medieval stone of the walls diminished London’s roar to a purr; he was in his own world now, lovingly thumbing through the manuscript he had nearly left in the cab minutes before. He loved the earthy tactility of an MS; preferred it somehow to the slatternly easiness of it final mass-produced form. Might get this one done in hardback, he mused, if that cheap bastard publisher would spring for it. He opened to the first page and began to read his own cramped, meticulous handwriting:

      “Phwoar,” he said. “Booker prize again.” This time they said he was due. Due like the Fremantle Doctor on one of those Cottesloe days when they would run chiacking into the surf, waving their kylies at each other, the skittish fish for now safe in the shallows.

      He blinked and looked at his half empty beer. He’d never written that. An uncanny sense of belatedness took hold of him. He felt like a lone hapless full-forward: surrounded, tackled and taken to ground. It was as though everything he could say had been said before, or could be said by someone else. Jeez, must be tired, he thought, unable to shake off the unpleasant sensation of a moment ago. He squinted at a line halfway down the paragraph below: “Charlene? Cherie? Something like that, anyway – he had sunk a lot of piss that night after all.” No he hadn’t, not even emptied his first one. What was he thinking? The page slipped from his trembling fingers. It was distasteful to him now; what he once knew as wholesome repelled him as much as the softly salacious caress of a jellyfish against the legs of a boy joyfully chiacking in the Swan. Never had he seen anything to which the term ‘reading-matter seemed more appropriate – a flyblown pile of murky paper at least six inches high, seemingly mocking him from its place on the stained wooden table. Jeez, he thought, must be tired. ”You all right mate?” The harsh cockney syllables brought him back to his senses before he stumbled out again into the London night.

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      • “…he stumbled out again into the London night.” again without the manuscript perchance?
        I’ve got some more plane material in production.

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      • Jaidyn-Jaxxon says:

        ‘puckered with jet lag…’

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      • Warriortom says:

        “Strewth!” he thought; “Talk about ridin’ the sheep’s back”. His naked form grappled with the bloke he’d had a good yarn with in the Chelsea pub. These feelings within him had first been stirred on that school oval in Manning when Todd the toughest boy in class had tackled him from behind during a game of footy. He knew that this was what mateship was really all about, but he knew that if he was to say this to his mates back home he’d be hung, drawn and quartered like a tee-totaller at a buck’s party. His fiance back home also wouldn’t understand. “Blue murder” that cold bloody sheila would cry not knowing what it really is like to be a bloke these days. But he had his needs, and London understood.

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        • NF#1 says:

          Do I detect a certain ongoing theme here (nice Celtic Frost reference) WT? As I recall, the immortal line “just helping out a mate” was attributed to one GA, regarding his bull-terrier.

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    • Rolly says:

      Never a day goes by without, at the very least, a little good news.
      Now, just where did I put that swastika?

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  22. rottobloggo says:

    His warm warm-beer scented breath gushed out of him in shallows as he stood on the spew-spattered pavement. A blur of successive images scored his sun-blasted retina: cloud, street, dirt, music from a beret-topped blueback…this part of old London Town was soupier with vibrancy than an open swimmer stroking his way through the goon-bag infested waters of Hyde Park…
    Time for some shopping, and Harrods beckoned: really, this place thought itself flash but it was much the same as Donovan’s Newsagency in Albany. He strode through the halls and gazed at the produce and gee-gaws and trinkets: it was ever thus in the great bazaars of Marrakesh or Samarkand or Fremantle.
    He was debating whether to get a scotch egg or two from the deli place when he heard an unmistakeable sound…
    He left a gaping shop assistant in her frock and tie (‘That will be twelve pounds, sir….SIR’) and hastened on trembling pins to where the distress emanated…
    He knew what it was before he turned the corner: the noise plucked at his heart like his good mate Jon Butler plucked expertly at an Angoran lute…the sound was like the silence of the Lops in the instant they knew they were going to form a major part of the famous Easter stew of 1968 at the B&S outside Chongalup…
    He turned the corner and it was like being whacked in the nurries with that eye in the sky: Harrods, the shop that sold everything, had a dugong for sale…

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    • NF#1 says:

      And because poor Tim delighted in spending money while hating such horrible impedimenta with the contempt a seagull must feel for an empty Bernies box, he meandered listlessly along the street, fingering the crisp pound notes in his pocket, before coming upon one of those gigantic edifices wherein you can purchase anything in the world – from a copy of one of his own novels to a white elephant. Having got safely in, he at once began to ponder how he was to get safely out, for he had realized in the recent hours that with so little earth left to spend, except an indefinite amount of leisure, he must strive to spend that little with extreme deliberation.

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      • Grasshopper says:

        But wait, what was THAT, glistening gently under the flourescent lights that buzzed like a tired mayfly on a lazy summer day? Was it, could it be…
        “Phwaor,” he murmured, “Haven’t seen that in yonks mate.” It was the complete series of Xena: Warrior Princess, all on Blu-Ray. How could a man be expected to turn a beaut score like that one down? All he had back home was a bunch of crappy VHS, the shitty visual media equivalent of Fosters to the Little Creatures of modern technology.
        “VHS, pffft! Can’t even skip straight to the titty scenes with that shit!” he thought, absentmindedly shifting his underroos in a futile attempt to lessen the chafing. But now, NOW, he could watch Xena’s ample bosom heave like the surf in a winter’s storm, and all in HD! To marvel at the crackling dialogue, the epic plotlines worthy of Homer himself, the cut and thrust of speudo-sapphic repartee…It was like that time he got dragged to the Court with Andrew and wound up trying to pick up that pair of dyke sheilahs, except without security kickin’ ya out fer having a chunder over some poofter. Screw the dugong, he was gunna get THIS! And maybe some KY Jelly too.
        As he pulled his wallet out of his bumbag – no thieves were gunna get near HIS bum, no sirree – the assorted photos the missus had slipped into his wallet scattered across the floor like a newspaper full of cold chips cast to a flock of waiting seagulls. As he bent down, one photo in particular caught his eye – a sepia-toned image of a buxom woman with a strong jawline, strangely familiar somehow. Phwaor, she was pretty hot, looked kinda like Xena. Maybe she was some family friend of Mum’s or something…

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  23. Jaidyn-Jaxxon says:

    Phwoar, he wheezed through a slick mouthful of humbugs, this England thing was alright. London, eh? The sights, the sounds, the feelings. The emotions. It felt like coming home, and he supposed it was, in a way, his homecoming; as a writer, as a lover of the English language, as one who’d sweated and strived all those years, to penetrate the veil of vernacular and stake his claim on true intimacy with the tongue, on a special, privileged relationship. He’d earned it, he knew – earned it back on those wattle-scented arvoes through the early 80s, those becalming, sun-swept hours when the minutes crept like schools of trepidatious trevally in the bottle-green abyss between those crusty pylons where they’d all used to sit and sip luke-warm Emus and wait for nibbles while he’d done the right thing, plugged away at the old Amiga waiting for inspiration itself to strike upon his hook. And what a hook it’d been, eh? The old familiar, the unexpected uppercut from the collective unconscious, so simple you’d’ve all expected it, if it wasn’t for those very same small-town virtues, if you’d’ve had any nous at all.
    Yeah, nah, it wouldn’t wash in London. Big league, this. They wouldn’t fall for his little palm-reading act, the way Becky’s cousin might’ve, had he ever had the guts to try it out on one of those feverish nights when they’d all writhe around on the glowing sands half-cut on Daniel’s and Buddha buds as big as ya fist in the throes of a newly awakened riptide of adolescent passions, or so he’d been forced to assume as he’d solitarily pondered and mused above the pages and pages of crossed-out colloquialisms, yearning for that ever-looming event horizon of linguomantic realisation almost as deeply as he’d thirsted for just one fleeting hint of the sweet briny knowledge of an actual woman. How he’d sweated, poring over his twenty full years of experience, seared by the heat of distillation as his alchemy of sincerity began to crystallise, and then: the breakthrough, hordes prostrate before his feet in mute abeyance as their own comfort-words washed back over them, only heavier now, imbued with something uncanny, like the whispering tide out of Cockburn Sound on one of them silver-gleaming evenings he hadn’t spent running sand-smoothed fingertips over the lilting curves of an actual, flesh-and-blood female because he’d put an extra phwoar in chapter ‘Fudgey Done a Poo’ the night before and now the whole thing, like a rattle-trap Torana run on drivel, required thematic reattunement.
    Phwoar, it’d been a tough ask. And he’d been fortunate, he knew. As accidents of birth went, it was a bloody lucky one that’d seen him plonked in a place where you could ride to the very top on the product of your virginity. I mean, there’s always Tall Poppy, he mused, and it had been painful, those tedious Sunday sessions down the Newport listening in on other people’s lives, choking down the mill-grist like it was beer-battered, smothered in the bitter tartare of personal inexperience. And later, struggling to regurgitate it all in a coherent narrative arc before flushing it down the toilet of postmodern veneer, watching it gurgle back into itself, a formless, miasmatic, pre-digested mush, and then he’d weep, salty tears streaming forth like the rolling breakers, to wash away the shame of his own perceptual bulimia. Yeah, he’d been lucky. Because despite it all, he’d been the one to do it, the one against many, a dugong in a mangrove full of gnats. And here, in London – he shuddered. They were all dugongs, here.

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  24. Pete says:

    I have a little tucked away in the place all the kids at the seaside school put stuff. Under the corro by the beach. Save me a couple of para’s.

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  25. Now that Roth has won this year’s Booker, I might add some directing structure. Teh Booker has several pre award events, so Tim has the chance of several more encounters with London and literary types, either informally, or for book signings and photo ops before heading off to the guild hall for the big event.
    It will be modelled on this year’s prize with Roth winning, but I think we can have every one of these Booker tossers involved, whether they were in this year or not. Coetzee, Keneally, Carey, Ray etc. Can’t wait to see if Roth actually uses liver as a masturbation aid during his speech.
    Also, Tim needs a book that was nominated this year. Calling for suggestions. How about “Groin Music”, Under the Doctor, A year on the groin.

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  26. vegan says:

    shallow coves

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  27. skink says:

    sighted first review of ‘Clodstreet – The Miniseries’

    Dan Barrett at Crikey’s TV Blog ‘White Noise.’

    “The new television production of Cloudstreet is a high-quality Australian story that will be very well received by many who will tune in to watch it. Of course, that isn’t to say that I enjoyed it
    …Visually, this is outstanding with warm and lush cinematography, matched with outstanding costume and set design. Despite delivering an occasional line or two that collapses under the weight of its own clunkiness, the performances are all very good…Despite the quality of the production, this first two-hour instalment of Cloudstreet left me feeling cold….Beyond being very well produced, it was a hollow experience for me.”

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  28. Jaidyn-Jaxxon says:

    ___________what_______________
    __________a__load______________
    _________of___fucking____________
    _______horseshit, seriously__________
    ____________i’ve________________
    ____________not________________
    ____________felt________________
    ____so disgusted for quite a while______

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  29. I’ve mocked (see what I did there?) up a cover in the style of a Fontana classic at the top. Doesn’t have to be final title.

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  30. He almost began to regret only bringing the footy shorts and Billlabong tanktop. He looked out of the hotel window. Looked chilly. Jeez wasn’t it supposed to be nearly fucken summer here? No wonder London was full of writers. Too cold to go chiaking. He slipped on the thongs. Hot Tuna. In his position he couldn’t be seen to be endorsing one surfwear company over another. Maybe he should have chucked in the bait stained Ripcurl windcheater the dogs were always humping and the slightly longer Piping Hot Boardies. At least they had a pocket. The footy shorts might be good for showing up Keneally’s coloured bow tie, but were a bit light on for somewhere to stash your hard earned. He slipped the invite, with the underlined “YOU HAVE TO GO” from his agent into the moleskine with a few pound notes. “Bloody Booker photo op.”
    They’d offered to send a driver with a Bentley, but he hadn’t wanted to look like a Class A cunt turning up at The Ritz in a Bentley. No, a minicab was good enough.
    He stepped out of the revolving door int the street. The ponytail lifted his eyebrows as his scalp contracted in the cold. “Jeezarse!” Luckily the minicab was waiting, double parked. From this distance, the driver looked like an Aussie cab driver. Foreign. Moustache.

    Gratefully he started to jog the few steps. “Fuck me drunk! One of me Hot Tuna’s has let go!” Double bunger too. He kicked them off where he stood.

    “G’day mate. Ritz thanks.”

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  31. orbea says:

    Crikey 24 May 2011
    “Cloudstreet got 111,000 viewers on Sunday night. Nationally, its audience was just over 157,000. That doesn’t sound much but excluding sport, it was the 7th highest rating program on Pay TV this year. More importantly it did much better than some of the Showcase (Showtime) offerings in past years such as Showcase’s other Australian productions Satisfaction and Tangle; Deadwood and True Blood from the US and the current darling of TV bit torrenters, Boardwalk Empire.”

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    • langhorne says:

      The Australian ‘Last Post’ 25 May 2011:
      ‘Cloudstreet review spoils it for new readers? I’d call it a lucky escape.’

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  32. Jezza says:

    I checked myself out in my new suit, looked deep into the mirror, saw shadows of deeper creatures lurking there, felt the throb in my groin.
    But I still looked like a cane toad in a pony tail. A pity. The suit looked good. I gave the mirror my best walleyed stare. Nah, f**#ya, I’d rather be fishin. I could hear the appluase go up as my name was inevitably announced. Made me think of that time with Caro, out on the dinghy, the sepia shallows stretching out to the doublegrey horizon, like some flat latte that someone had spat in. Caro looked me up and down. I checked out the mulie stains on her old Cardies tracksuit. The stink turned me on. She wants a bit, she’s gonna hafta fall in, and then I’ll think about it, playing Luther Foxx through my head as he dives under and grabs the mermaid, visions of dugongs with pony tails throbbing through his vision. Caro just grunted and scratched at her crack. Cut the head off a mulie. Looked at me invitingly, the long blade sharp in her fingers, the sac of guts slewed over the cutting board, and I thought of Dugongs with pony tails and cane toads with pony tails and then I sucked in some breath, heard my name called, picked my nose and went out to meet the fans, thinking, ya mugs, I’d rather be fishin…

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  33. JaneZ says:

    Cane toad in a pony tail. Nice work

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  34. Jezza says:

    Thought yez’d like it. I’ll give ya the Winton recipe if yr keen…

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    • RubyRuby says:

      Careful – is it like that “friendship cake” that gets passed around? A voraciously feeding and growing yeast plant which makes the hydra’s seven head replacement policy look quite conservative?

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    • NF#1 says:

      I think there’s already an informally agreed upon set of tropes and stylistic devices, Jez – a recipe if you will. (A Winton cookbook … King George Ecologically Sound Flake with a Sweet Potato and Roasted Fennel Mash? Rose Pickle’s Sunday Roast just like they all used to have back when … I digress). What you’ve so successfully done is remind us of the obligatory coarse, down-home earthiness.

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  35. Jezza says:

    Yr right NF#1. Won’t post the recipe, more a disha Winton.

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  36. Jaidyn-Jaxxon says:

    West Weekend features a luscious Winton photoshoot this issue, with accompanying bio riddled with the usual cheap similies and awkward contrivances:

    ‘While his contemporaries whiled away their youth on aimless travel, booze and drugs, Winton got cracking’ ‘during his 20s and 30s Winton worked at a frenetic pace … to keep the dingoes from the door.’

    For someone who hates the spotlight, he poses beautifully

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  37. Jezza says:

    So there I was out there on the groyne, light sea-breeze on my face, my new mate Craig Silvey stood worshipfully next to me. He goes by Craig Cutlery to me, geddit? Every bloke’s gotta have a cutey name – like Pikelet. Silvey doesn’t like it right away but I tell it to him straight – Master to apprentice – son, but if you want to stand next to me Cutlery, you gotta have a name.
    This was five years ago now, when Cutters was just another no-name wannabe. He comes to me, see, and he says (I f*%kin kid you not) “Mr Winton, you are the bloody greatest, Sir, and I fall at your feet and bask in your ikon halo, Sir. Teach me how to write. How to reach the masses. How to hook em like you hook em.”
    So I took him fishin. He doesn’t fish, Cutters, which is enough to make a bloke suss, but I always love to turn on a young bloke.
    So we’re out there on the groyne, light sea breeze on our faces, the ruby dark sea like wet silk beneath a fading gas blue sunset.
    We’ve got our hooks baited up with the humble mulie, 10 pound line with the classic running sinker, swivel and light steel trace set-up – in about thirty feet of wine dark ocean.
    I can feel the humid looks he’s giving me as we wait for…what, he doesn’t have a clue. I’d told him earlier – Cutts, if you wanna hook the humble ozzie reader you gotta come fishin with me, Cutts, and all will be revealed.
    So we stood alongside one another, in silence, like men, the wind whispering cliches teasingly into our ears. For six hours.
    The boy needed to slow down. ‘Should I check my mulie, I mean, me mulie Sir?’
    I just grunted at that. Six hours we stood there, into the night now, not a friggin bite.
    It begins to dawn on him. Fishin as a metaphor for writin. Hooks out there settled into the broad deep adult unconscious – bait nibbled at, but no nothin left on the hook. No livin. No love. No bites. No money. Geddit?
    So I quotes him some from the bible.
    ‘Writing good, Cuts, is like castin pearls before swine. Now watch this.’
    I looked into his eager tender eyes. He wanted what I had to give, alright.
    ‘Wind em in, I said, and cut your hook off. No need for a hook.’
    He gave me a querulous little smile, like a good little apprentice, sensing the mischief in me voice. He did as he was told. I stood before him, the hooks off me trace, dripping salty water onto me mortein scented thongs.
    ‘Out there – out there – there’s nothin out there, son. Nothin but pain and oblivion. You wanna hook the Ozzie reader, son, you don’t go fishin in the deeper water. Watch this.’
    It was all dark on the groyne, just me and Cut now, the orange lights of the lamps above is all. I says to him, ‘what do you see, son?’ knowing that all he could see was nothin. ‘Now watch this, and do as I do.’
    I tied on a mulie, and he tied on a mulie too. No hooks, but. He made to cast once more out into the amber dark of the nudging ocean but I stopped his arm.
    ‘No Cut, watch this.’
    I turned and cast my mulie directly along the groyne, where it splatted on the cement walkway. Immediately, rats, rats, dozens of rats, piebald and white, and rattus rattus rats, pounced on the mulie, squealing and squabbling…as I wound in. Cut was astounded. Watched the rats hangin on my mulie as I wound it up the groyne towards us, laughin my head off, my word it was fun, the little tenacious buggers hangin on for dear life, ‘dear readers, hypocrite lecteur – mon semblable – mon frere!’ I mumbled while Cu*# did the same, he’d gottit now, started laughing like a schoolgirl too, started reciting with me, my god it was a mantra, the rats heaving on the hookless bait, far from the murky complexity of the adult unconscious we waged pretend war on the lab rat castaways, the disgarded pets, the ship-borne rattus, ‘dear readers, dear readers, dear beloved Ozzie readers, ‘hypocrite lecteur – mon semblable – mon frere’, recited again and again until the rats was following us off the pier, like pied Ozzie Pipers we were, laughin – we was laughin – he goddit, young Cu*#, and now he’s made it, like I have made it, cos we share this secret – the hookless, the barbless, the soft and mushy dressed up as a bait, the lure is the thing, dear readers, the lure is the thing, digestible and soft and easy to swallow, and down the streets the rats did follow us, laughin, laughin, laughin, all the way to the…

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    • Jaidyn-Jaxxon says:

      Jesus fuck Tim you can stop trolling us now

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    • rottobloggo says:

      Like, wow.

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    • Snuff says:

      I always love to turn on a young bloke

      Each to their own, but I think I’ll stick to the bathroom, thanks.

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    • NF#1 says:

      I’m loving the Baudelaire reference in particular, even if it seems uncharacteristic of Our Tim. It’s suggestive though of a certain dark, um, undercurrent, and of course fits with the seeming descent into madness encapsulated in the final few sentences. Am I hearing ‘The Rats in the Walls’ as well here, Jezza?

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      • Jezza says:

        Deep down NF#1, I’m just another businessman tryin to get it done. Cynical bastard I am, too. And dark. But you won’t find it in me fiction. Not what the punters want…

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        • James says:

          The afternoon of the Dugong -it being a special kind of creature who frequented Ginos on the strip and jammed with the local bands, the dugong- an oblique reference to the mallarmean faun is a Dionysian figure, like Pan- as Tim weaves his own mythopoesis his own special mythology of the transmigration of souls-within his stream of consciousness poetic prose, he refers often to the metempsychosis of his female lovers into the shapes of animals and birds and occassionally AFL superheroes.

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        • James says:

          Tim’s fiction exemplifies the principle that literature is above all an impossible semantic object ie it keeps on deferring its own realization in meaning…

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      • James says:

        Symbolist Movement must have been on Tim’s mind a lot as he poured out the unrealized potential collective textual memory of all of culture past into one and every single word of his chef d’ouevres. Or as he bent down to consider the volume of inter-textual reference pressing down on every sound syllable of every ozzie slang word – trully then for him it was “la musique avant tout choses”. The uncanny self-referential texts full of the special kind of knowing of thier own genesis – true gnosis, their very own creative evolution, yet somehow strangely stagnating. Tim’s texts contain hidden references to all of Western metaphysics and challenge the impasse of the metaphysical huis clos of Kant’s implied in Kant’s transcendental philosophy, whereby knowledge cannot penetrate the outer shell of things. But Tim is not deterred by this limitation, he boldly unveils the very nature and essence of all things by the ajency of memory and the method intuition of Bergson he accesses by a special sympathy with the very inner nature of all things the virtual and the genesis of all of life. Hence his reference to Baudelaire.

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  38. rottobloggo says:

    The air was thick with the smell of wet dog. It reminded her of a misspent youth in the shallow of Greens Pool where dugongs would flap and frolic and children would turn the blue of a Rottnest island sky in summer during their swimming lessons. Where’s my coffee she muttered.
    But a shiver of horror passed through her essence as she remembered the horrid Greens Pool Easter Sunday Massacre, where two amorous dugongs, excited by the drifting aroma of Banana Boat SPF 30, had crushed the Twomey triplets and the salty water had run burnt Sienna with their innocent blood and ranger Matt had to bring the council shotgun and cut short their sexually charged thrashing. “Damn ugly buggers” he muttered through clenched teeth as horrified swimmers scrabbled to get out of the bloodied water. “Thought they’d all been sent to Hyde Park”. As he went about collecting the gruesome detritus from the once serene pool which now resembled a watery minestrone, he reflected on how and why exactly he had ended up in this line of work when as a boy growing up in the back woods of Buttfucknowhere, all he ever wanted to be was a Vogel award-winning author by day, poetry slam combatant (villanelle division) by night, and beachwear model every second weekend. Yet here he was collecting dugong cheeks for the councillors’ fortnightly meal. Where did it go wrong? At what junction of life’s train journey did his creative caboose jump the track and run out of steam in a life of meetings, counselling and stale Liquid Paper? He hadn’t got out his thesaurus for months: it was dustier than his collection of Penguin Modern Classics which littered his small and meagre flat on 21 Hump Street. Still, the hours were good and he could supplement the shitty pay by selling even shittier poems to Woman’s Weekly who were becoming increasingly agitated by his constant references to local landmarks, sentences that ran longer than Justin Timberlake’s schlong, and naval gazing that never amounted to anything more than the respectful pile of fluff from his own innie. Christ he thought, I need to write a sensitive novel about a handsome council ranger who kills a shark that has been terrorising windmills but is really a 300-pound attorney that takes a stream of consciousness journey around Armadale…wait, that might have been done already. Fuck! He clenched the dugong steaks, and the blubber ran through his fingers, which were tighter than the bikini top on Kylie Greenacre’s torso during swimming classes at the old peoples home at 66 Burke Circuit. Those were the days, he thought wistfully, when buying a girl a spearmint choc milk meant your bag of mixed lollies was going to get a real sweet workout next time you took her to the Saturday double matinee at the Como cinema. With moist misty eyes he remembered how minty Sharon ‘Happy Days’ McCloisters breath was as she whispered in his partially deaf right ear that she enjoyed the salty sweet balls the most. What she had actually said was she had disembowelled Akela at the scout hall when she had been a girl guide. He’d needed counselling after he had jumped out of his Jizz and sprinted 15 miles to the moon-struck river bank. All the way a choc bomb wrapper stuck on his shoe had convinced him he was being followed by a hideous creature that was part dugong, part wagyl – but all evil. Since then whenever he smelt popcorn he dry-retched, his oesophagus more convulsive than a mermaid’ sphincter when she saw Robbo’s fully laden cray boat bearing down on her. All this should be raw material for his fiction, he reflected, but he was fast becoming weary of his life as it was. He had developed that thousand yard stare usually reserved for fallen AFL players when they finally realise the cow has run dryer than The Fitzroy Crossing pub on pension day. Fuck, he wasn’t even 23 and he had seen more dugong flesh than Barry Bostik the legendary dugong whisperer and alcoholic who while on a 3 day bender turned the first sod in Hyde Park for the world first dugong sanctuary and cafe. With great clarity and resolve he wiggled his duodenal gland to try and fire up a spark of…something, anything. But he was dryer than a dessicated blowie that had washed up on the old jetty by the ancient fuel pump and had been rotting in the harsh one-eyed sun since old Farmer Blenkinsop had planted his first batch of sorghum. With a half-sigh, half-sob, he chucked the last dugong tail into the big rusty red bucket and began his cheerless trudge back to the car aprk. He had gone about half-way up the turd-choked sandy track when he saw it rustling in the nasturtiums…

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    • NF#1 says:

      You’re on fire Deefock, love it, but haven’t we gotten a little off track? Does it even matter now?

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    • Snuff says:

      I worked as the yardie at the Crossing Inn, and once or twice a week a tour bus would pull up in an almighty cloud of dust at the ahem, historic pub. They’d come bowling out the door, immediately form into a neurotic huddle, and then shuffle en masse to the bar. There’d always be one who’d have to swagger over to the only white face for miles around and smirk, “Hey mate, ow do ya put up with this mob?”

      “Tourists ? You’ll be gone in half an hour.”

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  39. Jezza says:

    Give those dugong a ponytail each Rotto and I’ll be hotter’n a Winton fart-in-a-jar

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    • NF#1 says:

      He walks into the lobby. The concierge raises an eyebrow at him, no doubt at his boardies and thongs, but makes no other move. Probably on the lookout for writers. There’s a small sign pointing the way to the Booker Photo Shoot. He hates these things, asked his agent not to dob him in, but now it’s too late. Better in here anyway than out in that cold din. Martin Amis walks past.
      Hey Martin, he calls out, Marty.
      Marty, at least he thinks it’s him, keeps walking without even looking at him. But there’s someone else furtively watching him. She’s young and bookish and shy as a marsupial mouse, standing to the side of the entrance to the Lytton Strachey Suite, carrying an orange and white Penguin bag and a book – one of his.
      Shit, he thinks. Can’t get away. Do they think him some showman, some crass Courtenay, pretentious looped initials and trite dedications (Hope you enjoy it Beryl, Love Bryce) defacing so many of his books that the dealers trade only in unsigned copies? Not even close. He’s rare – as rare and alone as a wedge-tail soaring over Bluff Knoll. He tries not to look, to push past her, but he can’t. Dim-remembered Bible lines thread through him too thoroughly for that: Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Might fuckin need it too. So he does his best to smile at her with all the sincerity for which he’s known.
      Tim she says, can you please sign this for me. I love all your books, I love…
      He smiles down at her with a fatherly glance. She’s pretty too. He thinks briefly of all the flange Amis must get. But there’s something achingly familiar in the faint furrows of her brow and the hook of her nose. He smiles again and takes the proffered book and pen.
      What’s your name?
      Stacey, she says, Stacey Dobson.
      Dear Stacey,
      If your impassive eye can plunge into the chasms on each page, read on my friend – you’ll learn to love me yet,
      Tim.

      He scrawls hurriedly across the virgin page.
      Do you like Baudelaire?
      I’m your daughter, she says.
      His mouth goes drier than a salt lake. Dobson. The syllables drop from his dumbly moving lips like sinkers into the Swan. Little did he think those loose old London days could return, but here he now was, as surprised and as bitten on the arse as a redback victim in a darkened thunderbox. Valerie Dobson. He forgotten all about her, turned to the Lord after that wicked weekend, absolved – so he thought – of his sins. But here was a flesh and blood token of the fateful transgressions of that student trip so long ago.
      Just get my photo done, back in a tick –
      Heart pumping, he dives through the velvet curtain. People greet him, their faces swim: must be another way out. Almost retching now, he makes for the suite’s bathroom, briefly chucks before testing the window….

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  40. Jezza says:

    ‘the dealers only trade in unsigned copies’ of Courtenay- that is genius. As for a Winton lovechild – made me laugh out loud – though seems unlikely – why would you write so much about teenage boys and nightly fill your dreaming head with visions of dugongs with long flowing hair if you had any kind of passion for (human/female) on-the-side?

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  41. shy swan says:

    “Am I sooo misogynistic, or is this, A Wintoning, just an excuse for sewer-mouthed seagulls to scrap over the dissected entrails left by king brown-sucking ozzie blokey blokes, who’s scribble wouldn’t make the Letters to the Editor of WA Newpapers, even on a slow news day?”, Tim mused, swizzling his pigtail.
    “Tall poppies and melons,” he thought, “both good for a walloping, but Strewth, too bloody many loose ends, like tranny trash, the dodgy tackle (opportunity lost for a tits-and-wheels quip), koonak-snapping bitchy journos, Mum a few kangaroos short in the back paddock (too cliché, bugger, cliché, they’ll think i’m a frog, Jeezuz H!) I godda write Ozzier than an Ozzie now my Ozzieness is being plagiarized for non-profit – shoulda read more John Ralson Saul in 3rd Year High, then i wouldn’t be buggerising around like Robert Boguki suckin’ up Kimberley mud with a prayer mat. Ya Drongos.”

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  42. steve says:

    i read dirt music five years ago and tried to forget all this!

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    • “…who relied on a host of sad literary crutches to differentiate his bland characters from one another, including limps, horrendous signature phrases, and in one agonizing instance, an eye patch.”

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    • poor lisa says:

      Gold our skink!
      “…in order to authentically craft the grating and unbearable phonetic renderings of speech he uses for all the book’s terrible dialogue….”
      “In such a vital world, you don’t simply read about a village, you smell its salt air and feel all of its joys and all of its struggles.”

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  43. DudeCloverdale says:

    There has been a distinct lack of Wintoning lately.

    Please increase your Wintoning.

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  44. James says:

    Well, this is fine fiction if ever there was. I have never read Tim Winton and what a loss, but having lived a tiny fraction of my youth in Freo I can testify, that kind of art would be highly regarded there – I think it is otherwise known as pastiche.

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  45. Geoff says:

    Tim awakens to a foggy winter morning in London. Gawd! what a shithole this place is, Tim thinks to himself. The sooner I pick up that Booker and get out of here the better. How can a litery genius be creative in this grey can of soup, he muses. Drifting back to sleep….Tim’s thoughts turn to the salad days of his youth in far-off Perth. That bright sunny jewel set in a land of prickly bushes, blazing hot white sand and redback spiders. And those winsome leggy Perth girls wearing the shortest miniskirts on the planet hmmmm…….cooor! What the…..! Tim is startled from his dream by a knock at the door. Its Coleen. “Hey Tim get off your lazy fat arse and get down to breakfast or you’ll miss the bus to the awards”.

    Tim takes three huge strides and is under the shower in seconds, his undies off and discarded in the middle of the bathroom floor in a pool of water (unbeknowns to Tim). A quick Pommy bath, careful drying of the chaffed areas…ouch…application of some gentian violet that gran had slipped into is toilet pack, reaches for undies…what the!,,,geeez they’re wet. After sorting through the other pairs of used grundies that littered his suitcase Tim reluctantly returns to the wet grundies and gingerly pulls them on. Christ this isnt going to help my chaffed areas at all he thinks to himslef. The dampness of the undies mixes with the purple of the recently applied gentian violet and and……geeez I dont want to describe it. Tim’s thoughts start to drift back to that arcadian wonderland of his youth. Where a pair of wet undies would have dried in five mintues on mum’s Hills hoist on a summer’s day. But there’s no time for sentimentality today. Tim skips breakfast and is first one on the bus. He takes the same seat that he used to take when he was a kid on his way to school – aisle seat second last row on the left side of the bus. You get the best view of the sheilas in their mini skirts from this seat, Tim chuckles to himself, as he sits down.

    The red London bus chugs slowly across the great city in the direction of the awards center. Tim notices Coleen writing furiously in a note book, Liz is reading Hullo Magazine while Drew is checking his investment accounts on his IPhone. Damn, must make mental note to take out some investments other than those crappy wind farms and dugong sanctuaries. Tim turns on his IPhone and checks imaginary investment accounts. But his mind soon drifts backs to those long bus rides home from school on those hot summer afternoons. He whinces a bit at the thought of those chafing woolen school uniforms they had to wear. God how he hated those shorts. But he smiles again at the thought of Fiona in her miniskirt and long shapely legs, standing so close he can hear her breathing, but she may as well have been one hundred miles away. Tim bites his lower lip. Damn those lost opportunities! Makes mental note to work that daily bus trip into his next book.
    ………to be continued.

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  46. Pingback: The Wintoning – funny because it’s true | benkilley.com

  47. valerie woodruffe says:

    Grrrrr someone with greater computer knowledge than myself hacked into my computer and stole a copy of my manuscript… so I took solace on mullaloo dog beach

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  48. James says:

    Quotation marks? That’s uncharacteristic of Tim Winton.

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  49. Pingback: The Boomtown Rap Bitchfest Awards For 2011 | The Boomtown Rap

  50. Pingback: Best ever list of funny, odd, political and literary comparisons / similes / estimations / figures of speech from Australia and other countries « I Speak Australian

  51. satiricons says:

    what a satyrical pack of cowards you all are hiding behind avatars

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  52. satiricons says:

    you don’t post anything critical you unrepentant cowards

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  53. satiricons says:

    awaiting moderation indeed

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  54. Anonymous says:

    can someone tell me where the “Unsubscribe” link is please.

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  55. The master shows us how it’s really done, ie by avoiding complex stacks of simile and simply listing items of nostalgia as if they constituted actual sentences. Phwoar and haugh, we all have so much. To learn.

    Transcript of Tim Winton’s speech
    The Sea Change Comes to Canberra
    An address by Tim Winton to Parliamentarians in the Mural Hall, Parliament House, Canberra
    9 May 2012

    Think of your happiest moments, your most vivid memories. A holiday. Summer. It’s always summer, isn’t it? Mum and Dad. Maybe a caravan, a tent, a beach shack. Maybe a fire on the beach, a kero tin full of crabs or prawns. Sunburn against the sheets. That boy or girl in the next tent you’re trying to crack onto. The games of beach cricket. I’m sure you all have variations on these sorts of memories.

    In mine I’m always standing on a beach, beside an estuary, on a jetty. Holding a fishing rod. Or a net, a mask and snorkel. Hunting and gathering is in my blood. As a boy I loved the freedom, the direct engagement with the physical world, the feeling of competence. Now, I didn’t know it at the time but I’d inherited two great treasures: a cultural tradition and the living ocean that sustains it.

    Flick back through your own happy snaps: there you are in your Speedos, your boardies, your frill-bottomed one-piece, your teeny keeni. So young. So slim. And that bloody hat your mum made you wear that year. Sitting around the barbie, eating the catch of the day. You, too inherited this great legacy.

    Australians are islanders. Coastal people. Almost all of us live on the edge of the world’s biggest island. On the veranda of the continent. Just as we once lived on the verandas of our houses, half in and half out. Remember the sleepout, the slapping flywire door? This is what we tap into when we go on holiday now. The shack, the boat, the 4×4. That yearning is deeply embedded. We still want to engage with our physical surroundings. And the thing is we can. In the developed world that’s rare.

    I’ve been writing about coastal folkways for thirty years. It’s literally at the core of who I am. I still go out in a dinghy and pull my craypots at dawn. I have to be close to the water, smell it. A day when I haven’t surfed or swum or wet a line feels like a wasted day. And I’m not unique in this regard. In hundreds of offices, classrooms and boardrooms today, there were thousands like me wishing they were at the beach. Saving to get there.

    I’m not a complicated bloke. Doesn’t take much to make me happy. Sitting in the tinny with the old man catching a feed of herring. Snorkelling with the missus. Taking our granddaughter for a dip. That’s my idea of happiness. But even I tend to take this stuff for granted. A little coastal memoir of mine was recently published in Europe. The reviews were very gratifying. But I was taken aback by the tone of wistfulness, of envy in these reviews. All I was doing was recounting the bog-ordinary working class beach life I grew up with. But for so many Brits and Europeans this is an impossible, exotic fantasy.

    It’s our birthright. Given to us, not made by us. We need to remember that. Celebrate it, sure. But also assign it proper value. Safeguard it. By custom. With awareness. And by legislation.

    etc ad nauseam

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  56. Anon says:

    Jealous, much?

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  57. What a great idea! I can’t stand Winton’s writing & as a (sometimes) English teacher have had to justify my refusal to use his stuff – i’m just gonna forward this link whenever anyone enquires from now on … thanks to all who contributed …

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    • Really should get back into this.

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    • JJ says:

      Phwoar, he croaked. He could feel his ventricles constricting, slow rolling paralysis washing across his stomach like the evening tides, his muscles knotting up like perished crabs.
      A coronary, at fucken last? He breathed through it, focused his energy, sending waves of mental balsam through the inert tissue. It’s not a heart attack. Just a bit of reflux. Too many paleys. Stay calm. Be the ocean.
      Shhhh. Wshhhhhh.
      Shunned by the system. It smarted.
      Outside, a seabird squawked, a harsh, tannic sound. There it was – just by the fence, by the lemon tree. In the darkness, he couldn’t tell what bird it was.
      Doesn’t fucken matter anyway, he snarled, screwing the opening page of Riders II into a tightly crumpled ball and flinging it across the room. It landed by the edge of the carpet with an audible thump and just sat there, staring at him, the way them fairy penguins all used to do back on one of those sunstruck early arvoes when we’d all traipse on down the sandbar, just for the bloody thrill of it, a footy under one arm and an icecream, churned the traditional way, to serve as its distal counterpart, somehow in one simple gesture managing to encapsulate all the complexity and contradiction of what it means, what it really fundamentally means, to live, to grow, to learn, to change; and at the same time, in a manner both profoundly disappointing and incontrovertibly apt, failing to do so.
      Aaaah fuck. He scampered down the carpet like a lovestruck heeler, whisked up the tangled scrap.
      Reedeming features. Where the fuck are yas.
      Ah. Found ya. Menopause, sensitivity thereto. Aaaaannd…
      Here we go. Awkward sexual discovery. A nice bit about the beach.
      He stared down at the page, his pen circling like a one-legged gull.
      Aborigines. They’re like ghosts aren’t they. Ghosts of yesterday. Better put one in. Yeah, awesome.
      The fridge hummed to life, whirring for a few seconds before shuddering back into silence, its belly full of chilled beers rattling ever so faintly within the dusty laminate.
      Phwoar, he breathed. So analogous, and yet its meaning was so elusive, like a shortboard in the dump, thrashing around beneath the surface, so violently, so presciently, yet so completely obscured by foam and salt and sand that you’d never ever see it ’til it jumped back up to stab you in the guts.
      There it was again, heartburn, knifing his paunch like a Japanese bombshell searing through the tropical skies to detonate and destroy, shattering the innocence, busting apart the timeworn and comfortable, waking us up to our place in the great yonder, to usher in the great unknown.
      I reckon! Put that in as well. Phwoar.
      He scribbled it down, choking back the heartburn – or was it heartache – that clawed at his chest, scratching and scouring like a ten-buck tinny, floundering at the bottom of the King George Sound on one of them desolate summer evenings when we’d all sit on the pier and watch and wait as the seagulls glided in to pick apart our garbage, just like those wretched fucken CUNTS they paid to teach these days would sit upon their FUCKEN ARSES taking liberties with FUCKARN GENIUS BITS O’ WORK JESUS FUCK –
      Phwoar he sputtered…

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  58. Gertrude Strine says:

    Most entertaining, you lot!
    The best half hour I’ve spent on the net for a while.
    Dugongs have never seemed more appealing

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  59. Falcon GLi says:

    He pulled his maroon Subiaco Football club stubbies back up harshly.
    It was over.
    God, he’d forgotten to breathe and he’d finished before he could even reach for his old brine stained Bintang T-shirt. The relief wound through him like the North West Highway on the way out of Midland. He sat there in the darkened room whilst the Fremantle doctor rattled the blinds against the peeling white painted jarrah frames, listening to some kids in a Falcon tearing up the melting bitumen on the street opposite the old white deli that had been run by a greek couple since the early 70s. He hoped no one had heard. Christ. You have to have ears like a kelpie. Then he felt a sharp stab of shame and disappointment like a blunt and rusting filleting knife stabbing the eye out of a blow-fish.
    Phoar, he breathed. What a gusher. He took the bintang shirt in his salt hardened hands and sopped it up.
    Still, he wouldn’t have to do that again for another day. Not unless he saw that single mother at the library again.

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    • skink says:

      reading ‘not unless he saw that single mother at the library again.’ and then reading the precis of Winton’s new book: ‘he runs into some neighbours: a woman he used to know when they were kids, and her introverted young boy.’

      it seems spookily precient. One might even call it eerie (see what I did there?)

      if Tim’s new book has a passage where his lonley protagonist whacks off into a wifebeater, we’ll know for sure he’s nicking his material from this page.

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  60. Ljuke says:

    The new novel… from Tim Winton. The future is definitely in speaking… with ellipses

    To quote the publisher: “It goes straight at the big questions, and like the greatest contemporary novels, expands its readers’ understanding of what it’s like to be alive now.”

    I think they made a mistake there. It was meant to be “What it’s like to be alive… now.”

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    • rottobloggo says:

      “Eyrie tells the story of Tom Keely, a man who’s lost his bearings in middle age and is now holed up in a flat at the top of a grim highrise, looking down on the world he’s fallen out of love with. He’s cut himself off, until one day he runs into some neighbours: a woman he used to know when they were kids, and her introverted young boy. The encounter shakes him up in a way he doesn’t understand. Despite himself, Keely lets them in. What follows is a heart-stopping, groundbreaking novel for our times – funny, confronting, exhilarating and haunting – populated by unforgettable characters. It asks how, in an impossibly compromised world, we can ever hope to do the right thing.” – Ben Ball, Publishing Director, Penguin Books Australia.

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    • Youse all have to watch this clip. It’s excruciatingly bad. Stay right to the end.

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      • skink says:

        who’s that derro in the park? …oh

        October is six months away… given that Winton’s books are getting exponentially shorter the next one should only be 50,000 words…he could probably fit it all in that little notebook.

        I wonder what he’s writing?

        note to self: people will buy it however small it is…so why make work for yourself?

        he can write it all between now and October

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    • NF#1 says:

      Jesus, this is just cynical – they’re not even trying now. Demanding that JJ rewrite entire book as Eagle’s Nest, whereby protagonist is a middle-aged Ben Cousins but everything else “the same”. Introverted boy teaches him to love football, and life, again, against a background of the shadowy machinations of “third position” political groups – I’m thinking The Man Who Was Thursday maybe with whole passages lifted more or less directly from Malouf’s Child’s Play. Actually, if we were to start on this now, it’s possible that we may, Pierre Menard style, even write the same book.

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    • JJ says:

      Phwoar, he breathes, a deep crease curling down the right side of his masklike grimace, tearing through his weathered skin, turning, trailing, the tail of a thousand willy-willys through so much dried-out bulldust. There’s just no pleasing some cunts.
      They are, he knows, his most faithful audience – at the very least, his most perceptive. And that’s what he’s come to count, these days – not the shallow adulation of the masses, riding up on fins of aspiration to snatch at the burley of his intellect, but the sharp sting of the critic, lashing out through murky sands, keeping him nimble, on his toes. The unbelievers. God, how he loves ‘em.
      It isn’t mutual. That much is obvious. And yet something in him longs to make contact – to reach out and express himself, to argue, to counter, to disprove.
      You crazy?
      Ball’d boggled, practically puking his tempura prawn back into his Coopers Pale, but he hadn’t been impressed. That was the problem. Nothing impresses anymore. He’s done it all. The Cicerello’s boardwalk, between the hours of five and ten – scents of salt and savour intermingled in the boat-exhaust and garbage; the chill, staid air of the Billiton boardroom, where legions of besuited men lean like drifting manatees in the current of his own conviction. Phwoar, he’s even trod the bloody Ledger – bare boards and all – and lived to tell the tale, and many more.
      Haugh. ‘s not fair, mate. Gi’s a rest.
      Howard had it right. John Howard. The other one, the Seachange one, he’d – and hang on just a fucken minute, weren’t there supposed to be royalties? – he’d had the right idea. Give him a break, he’s only trying. A teardrop plunges, its world-consuming gravity sucking at the skin along his nose, a rusted derrick falling from the sky to splatter on the ocean of his keyboard, sinking down between the U and I to seep down deeper, dissipating in the heat of its workings, a scoop of Hokey-Pokey left to rot between the boards. “Carn Timmy!” Dad, tugging at his arm, like a rooster with a half-gnawed bone. “Gunna miss the boat! Carn ya liddle cunt!”
      Those were the days. They didn’t breed ‘em like that anymore. The Yanks had seen to that, he supposed, er, ‘erasing the lived experience of a culture-in-genesis coming to terms with the materiality of its environment’, or however it was that Google result 111429 for ‘Cloudstreet’ had termed it. Everything was so – impersonal, now, everything at arm’s reach, like that pair of boxers you’d stuck down between the seats in Uncle Vic’s old GTX, and never hoped to recover.
      Oh, Becky, he cries…
      Tim?
      There she stands, her flaxen hair all shimmered by the upglow of his desklamp, her crow’s feet marching rampant.
      You right, babe?
      He doesn’t speak – he can’t speak. There are words, but not for this, not for here and now. For them. For those hateful, sniping cunts.
      He lurches in his leather chair, shoulders twitching, red-stippled crab-joinders hoisting claws up high, a last defense against the piercing cries and stabbing beaks.
      Fugoff. Gi’s a break. Please.
      And lilting on the wind, like seagrass gone to damp and rot, the answer blows back to him:
      Never.

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      • They asked him to write something for the cameras in the old marbled receipt book he pretended to write his notes. Could the camera see it from here? The 15 year old director miming him to write, write, WRITE! Looking like dad sprinking half a kilo of salt on the baked leather steak – the only way mum knew how – before he’s even tasted it. But what could he write? The pen unbidden put down the same word over and over again “Booker,” Booker, Booker. Where was the flat builder’s pencil that he usually used to pretend to write notes with? Fuck! “Booker, Booker, Booker..!”

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  61. Russell Woolf's Lovechild says:

    Just browsing the latest Australian Research Council grants http://www.arc.gov.au/pdf/DP13/DP13_Listing_by_all_State_Organisation.pdf#page=1&zoom=auto,0,842 (p128) and was pleased to see that Tim is now going to get the “sustained critical attention” he has yet to receive. All for the very reasonable sum of $138,000 that I’m sure no right thinking Australian taxpayer would regard as an excessive sum.

    TWOP could have done it for less but what the hell.

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    • RubyRuby says:

      Any attention = Good attention…?

      TWOP could provide better feedback, probably already has provided deeper analysis, surely TLA should be up for about half that funding?

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    • Bento says:

      I woogled some of the Prof’s other writings. Its been a while since I had to deal with post-modern academic waffle, as opposed to evasive bureaucratic management-speak. I’m confident she will do justice to Winton’s ouvre, but I’ll email her the link to the Wintoning Project, just to make sure we get our $138 gorillas worth.

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      • Readin Tim Winton in a Post 9/11 post Booker post modern context?

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      • skink says:

        if only they could find some way of harnessing Tim’s ‘literary power’ and plugging it into the grid, they might be able to reduce my extortionate electricity bill.

        this is the sort of blue sky thinking we need from our leaders.

        get to it, Colin. You couldn’t deliver the canal, Oakajee or James Price Point, but I think you can nail this one.

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  62. Scanners says:

    Tim has a play in The City of Perth Winter Arts Season 2013, Shrine. “When a young man dies driving back to Perth from his parents beach house he leaves behind a wreck of a father, a shadow of a mother, and the promise of a love affair that never quite happened. A year later, heartbreak, ghosts and what could have been haunt the ones left behind.” How many boxes does that tick?

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  63. Boat Custom Exhaust Parts says:

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  64. Russell Woolf's Lovechild says:

    Dad is giving away two free tickets to Tim’s new play on the wireless right now.

    I can’t enter unfortunately. :-(

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    • JJ says:

      That phrase has been echoing through my mind for days. It’s the worst. And the rest of the excerpt is so banal and just bloody awful Clumsy, picture-book blocking, cheap-shot three-word sentences punctuated with bizarre and misplaced constructions like ‘Another petty imbroglio into which he’d been dragooned.’ What the hell? What’s the editorial process here?

      It’s been said before, but nothing on this page really does Winton justice, because his prose is just too shitty – you can’t make it up.

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      • So do YOU think he could handle Dinosaur erotica?

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        • JJ says:

          Here’s the Winton dinoporn if anyone’s curious. 100% authentic

          Phwoar, she breathed, feeling the soft loam of the rotting gingko work its way under her nails. She’d lost it, somewhere in that last copse of towering ferns, and if she just kept still and quiet, then maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t find her.
          Could it…? Sunlight, warm and over-bright, dappled her firm, flushed calves – the overhanging cycads were not, then, as thick as they had looked.
          Still, from sixteen feet up…
          *Hide.*
          It was barely even a thought; it was raw, primal instinct, and it took all the effort of her adult, human will not to claw her way further into that mass of seething, too-warm humus at her back.
          Stay… quiet…
          Don’t… move…
          Flushed with fresh adrenaline, her muscles surged, her heart pounded, an echo of those distant future swells that boom and crash and effervesce upon the great granite monuments of a coastline yet unrisen, so constant you could set your watch, so relentless you’d run down and leap headlong into the flickering spume almost out of fear, as if something in the depths of that fathomless half-lidded womb we call the deep had the knowledge of your soul, and wanted it back.
          Thud.
          A pulse spread through the air, the earth, her flesh, the first strike of the summer storms, the breaker on the beach.
          Thud.
          Insects, many-sectioned, glittering like Shark Bay sand, reverberated from the soil, cascading down in a clotted cloud of feverish detritus, catching in the hollows of her ripe decolletage.
          Oh God…

          In the weeks before Grand Final Day, Dad used to take us up the showgrounds – you remember? We’d all pack in to that old clapped-out Fairlane and he’d fang it up the back way, an open tinny knocking knee-to-knee, and we’d go look at the things they had there – the gates, the stalls, the racing ring. And the stockyards? You remember the stockyards? We’d sneak around the back – well, you’d follow, wouldn’t you – and then, that afternoon, you dropped your Cornetto, and it fell down between the boards, and it rolled, didn’t it, into that fleeced and feathered dust – and what did you find instead?

          You remember, don’t you?

          Its breath pours down upon her like the footshower at Trigg, warm, salty, flooding her skin, her hair, and she remembers lunchtimes in her chafing wettie, all of nine years old and itching where her knees rest in the shaded grass.
          A sound – unspeakable, the peeling of its rotten lips, rasping over jagged stalks of yellowing enamel, the beaks of perished seagulls in the fresh-turned sea-grass mounds, and its tongue lolls outwards, drools, extroverted abalone casting lysin to the tide. The beast shifts its weight, only slightly, and through all the din of bellows-breath and shattered branches she can only hear her own maddened screams, clear as the nightjar, as if announcing the onset of the midnight winds, and pleasant dreams to come…

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  65. And why had he agreed to write another play, right in the middle of all the Booker pressure? Concentrate! The laminex table gleamed up at him like the redgum school bench outside Mr. Prosser’s office where you’d wait to get the cane, your nervous anticipating backside twitching and buffing the surface better than any…any… He rubbed his eyes. If he had to describe all of his surroundings in minute detail before he even got his pen on paper, the paper like a rectangle of light from the cabin window of a ferro-cement yacht anchored in Geordie Bay on New Years Eve slipping and rippling under his gaze as the… Sigh. He slipped the lacky off his ponytail and shook his giant head like a big Tailor on a yard of stainless leader off the Floreat Drain, the limply cascading hair a familiar “do not disturb” sign to the sprogs and the missus that he meant business, Booker business, and woe betide anyone who disturbed him like the time they got that crumpet stuck in the old toaster he refused to upgrade where you had to turn the hot toast quickly with your fingers and slam the door shut and everyone was yelling at him like the time they got the crumpet stuck in the old Hecla toaster that…. Jeezus Christ Tim, get a grip on yourself. He opened up again the note he had got from John Williamson after his first play opened. “Dear Tim. More Boom, less Tish. JW.” The note he had opened a hundred times was as creased as the face of old Finklestein who used to buy brass and copper, door to door in East Fremantle, his old truck as familiar as the shit wagon. He turned the note over although he knew there was nothing on the back. He flicked it back over. “More Boom, less Tish.”

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  66. JJ says:

    Neat feature on Our Tim in the Weekend West.

    TIM WINTON IN PRAISE OF CASHED-UP BOGANS

    “That’s the autistic boy – well, he’s a man now – who for the last 10 or 15 years has been collecting trolleys all over town for the shops,” Winston says as we walk down Adelaide Street towards St Patrick’s. “Everyone knows him and he has a happy and productive life.”

    Winton says we tend to get a slightly indulgent narrative about Fremantle and inner-city Perth. “It’s all about people who are thrilled to be immersing themselves in that slightly gritty bohemian scene. There’s always an element of self-congratulation about it which I find a little bit sick-making.”

    “I’ve just grown bored over the years of people defining themselves against each other. I’m more interested in trying to find things in common with people to make life more bearable, richer, to make all kinds of prosperity possible. The prosperity of emotions, the prosperity of a sense of safety, the prosperity of shared ideals.”

    It just washes over you, doesn’t it, warm and familiar and comforting, the way Dad used to smile when we’d turn up at that tattered flyscreen, our buckets spilling over with the treasures of the sea etc

    For me, the highlight of Our Tim’s nauseating interview with the wretchedly horrid Jennifer Byrne, (apart from the flashback – “Poetic? ‘Dunnies’?” “Ohr, it’s got a musical sound to me” – and modern Tim mounting ‘feverish’ and ‘pell-mell’ in the same failed, faltering sentence, and, for that matter, pronouncing ‘bourgeois’):

    “…you just keep tap-dancing until you figure out the lines, from watching everybody else”

    Indeed.

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