The Boy Behind the Curtain

by

Tim Winton

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Tim Winton is the protagonist, author, and narrator of The Boy Behind the Curtain. One of Australia’s most celebrated novelists, Winton appears as a child, a young adult, and a grandparent at different points throughout the essays in the collection, and he reflects on the events that formed his understanding of society and politics in Western Australia. Over the course of the collection, Winton examines his father’s recovery from a near-fatal motorbike accident, his own involvement in a perilous car crash, and the birth of his children—constant clashes with peril that teach him that life is dependably uncertain. Winton also describes how, though reluctant to enter the public sphere, he finds himself campaigning for natural wildlife and urging his government and fellow Australians to wrestle with their discomfort and biases, particularly as these biases relate to welcoming refugees and thinking about class divisions. As Winton critiques the landscapes and circumstances in which he finds himself, which span from a castle in Ireland to an art gallery in Melbourne, he searches for a way to feel at home in the rugged, sometimes hostile landscape of coastal Australia.

Tim Winton Quotes in The Boy Behind the Curtain

The The Boy Behind the Curtain quotes below are all either spoken by Tim Winton or refer to Tim Winton. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Danger, Violence, and Death Theme Icon
).
The Boy Behind the Curtain Quotes

Without words I was dangerously powerless. The gun served as a default dialect, a jerry-built lingo that may have been less sophisticated than a laundry list, but it came with ready-made scripts that had been swilling about in the back of my mind since infancy. These were storylines as familiar as the object itself. But the lexicon of the gun is narrow and inhuman. Despite its allure it was insufficient to my needs.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker), Tim Winton’s Father
Related Symbols: Guns
Page Number: 8-9
Explanation and Analysis:
A Space Odyssey at Eight Quotes

It sent me through a Star Gate of my own into an expanded reality. It wasn’t just my introduction to the possibilities of cinema, it was a wormhole into the life of the imagination, where artefacts outlive the tools with which they are wrought as well as the makers who once wielded them. In that parallel universe useless beauty requires neither excuse nor explanation and wonder is its own reward.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:
Havoc: A Life in Accidents Quotes

Sometime during that long convalescence I came upon the helmet Dad had been wearing when he was hit. Made of laminated cork, it was cumbersome, and it felt unstable in my hands. The crazed pattern of cracks dulling its whiteness gave it an unnerving broken-eggshell texture. For a long time—for years, I think—I continued to seek it out, to turn it over in my hands, to sniff the Brylcreem interior, and try to imagine the sudden moment, the awful impact, and the faceless stranger behind all this damage.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker), Tim Winton’s Father
Related Symbols: The Hospital, Guns
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

The whole thing was a garish sideshow, absurd and sinister. In that ugly flashback I heard myself laughing like a deranged clown. I was a university student but I couldn’t even tell the ambos who the prime minister was. And in the ambulance I could not move a limb. Some bloke with hairy arms was holding me down. It wasn’t a rescue—it was a kidnapping.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker), Tim Winton’s Father
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:
A Walk at Low Tide Quotes

If you can ever know something you’ll understand it by what it has given, what it owes, what it needs. It has never existed in isolation. And ghosting forever behind its mere appearance is its holy purpose, its billion meetings with the life urge in which it has swum or tumbled or blossomed, however long or however briefly.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Ocean
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:
Repatriation Quotes

It takes a while for it to sink in, but the closer you get to the desert, the more life there is in the land; once you’re fully beyond the reach of modern cultivation there are trees again, and from their shadows come enough birds, reptiles and mammals to let you feel you are finally back in Australia. Each time I traverse the dead zone of the wheatbelt and reach this territory, my mood lifts—and then I think, What kind of man cheers up at the sight of roadkill?

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

Still hunkered by the old warren, Underwood confessed to a conviction that somehow, one day, the boodie would return to Mt Gibson. His tone was wistful but also defiant, as if over time he’d inured himself to ridicule on this point. I thought again of the potent space that an absence becomes. The lost boodie is just a part of a wider absence, a pattern of extinction that haunts this continent.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Page Number: 71-72
Explanation and Analysis:
Twice on Sundays Quotes

Churchgoing was my introduction to conscious living. Nowhere else was I exposed to the kind of self-examination and reflective discipline that the faith of my childhood required. I’d be surprised if anyone at my boyhood church had read even a page of Tolstoy, but it seems to me now that the question that ate at him so late in his life was the central issue for us, too. What then must we do?

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:

Language, I was to discover, is nutrition, manna without which we’re bereft and forsaken, consigned like Moses and his restive entourage to wander in a sterile wilderness. As a novelist I seem to have spent every working day of my adult life in a vain search for the right word, the perfect metaphor for the story or sentence at hand, while so often writing about characters for whom words are both elusive and treacherous. I didn’t catch the bug at school, I picked it up at church.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Related Symbols: Guns
Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:
High Tide Quotes

Ashore there’s a wary osprey astride a bleached stump and beneath him the charred remains of a bonfire from last winter. Drop your face back in and it’s something out of Kubrick, all hurtling colours and shapes and patterns so intense as to be slightly mind-bending.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Ocean
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:
The Wait and the Flow Quotes

Waiting and flowing were anachronistic notions, they’d nearly become foreign concepts, but to me they were part of an imaginative lexicon, feeding something in me that had to do with more than surfing. The child of a pragmatic, philistine and insular culture, I responded to the prospect of something wilder, broader, softer, more fluid and emotional. It sounds unlikely but I suspect surfing unlocked the artist in me.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Ocean
Page Number: 132-133
Explanation and Analysis:

I show up. I wait. When some surge of energy finally arrives, I do what I must to match its speed. While I can, I ride its force. For a brief period I’m caught up in something special, where time has no purchase, and my bones don’t ache and my worries fall away. Then it’s all flow. And I’m dancing.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Ocean
Page Number: 135
Explanation and Analysis:
In the Shadow of the Hospital Quotes

It wasn’t just a health facility. At times it was more like a furnace or a power plant. In summer the air around it was thick with screams and sirens and the drone of cooling towers, and in winter its beige mass blocked out the sun. It was a constant, implacable presence.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Hospital
Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:

Afterwards I often looked up at that dreary building as the sun lit its windows and thought of strangers staring out in hope and regret as the rest of us went about our day oblivious. It was sobering to think of all the yearning that spilt down amidst the treetops and roof ridges, a shadow I’d never properly considered before.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker), Tim Winton’s Estranged Friend
Related Symbols: The Hospital
Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:
The Battle for Ningaloo Reef Quotes

It seemed to me at the time that this movement might have been named after the wrong colour, that nothing was as likely to stir the imagination of Australians so much as the sea. With Save Ningaloo we stumbled onto the only sacred site in the mind of mainstream Australia—the beach. Somehow the childhood memory of clean seas and the workaday longing for respite in salty air and the dream of retiring to a still-living coast resonate in the suburbs like nothing else.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Ocean
Page Number: 172
Explanation and Analysis:
Letter from a Strong Place Quotes

I’m conscious that everything I see from here is named and storied, not just the wells and wishing trees and cryptic dirt mounds, but every hedge, it seems, every wood and boreen. All of it heavy with a past that’s palpable and rich, moving in its way, even if it doesn’t quite mean anything to me personally.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Page Number: 177
Explanation and Analysis:

A few days ago I woke with a light shining in my face. I thought I’d fallen asleep reading and left the bedside light on. But no, it was the sun shining in the window, warm and strong and clean for the first time since we arrived. Spring had come, and it made me think of home.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Page Number: 185
Explanation and Analysis:
The Demon Shark Quotes

In the wake of that cold, sweaty minute in the Astor it wasn’t as if I was consciously and constantly afraid of sharks but they were a liminal presence thereafter, something lurking in the water beyond the pleasure of the moment. It hardly ruined my life but it did divide the mind in a way that was new. For along with the creaturely joy of snorkelling in the open water behind the reef there was now a twitch of anxiety. The eye searched for something even when I wasn’t looking.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker), Tim Winton’s Father
Related Symbols: The Ocean
Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:

When anglers like the legendary Alf Dean “fought” tiger sharks and great whites they did it for pleasure, for some sense of mastery, then they dragged them ashore and hung them from gantries. I remember enormous, distended carcasses suspended from meat hooks and steel cables on jetties on the south coast. The dead sharks often had their lengths and weights painted on their flanks as if they were machines.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Ocean
Page Number: 207
Explanation and Analysis:
Using the C-word Quotes

Their faces and voices were completely familiar. They smelt like the people of my boyhood—fags, sugar and the beefy whiff of free-range armpit—but despite the cheerful, noncommittal conversations we had on our slow ascents in the lift, I felt a distance that took many months to come to terms with. Like the expatriate whose view of home is largely antique, I was a class traveller who’d become a stranger to his own.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Page Number: 233
Explanation and Analysis:
Lighting Out Quotes

First kill your camel. Next, light a big fire. After that get a cauldron big enough to hold your hapless dromedary. If it becomes necessary, hack the beast of burden to pieces and keep the pot at the boil for days on end. Then take a straw and a suture needle and begin spitting your rendered camel through the tiny aperture.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Page Number: 247
Explanation and Analysis:

As I bore down upon them I saw the two wedgetails had the body of a third eagle between them. A little unlikely, but there it was. Probably mown down by a truck. They were struggling over the carcass, each bird with a wingtip in its beak so that in the midst of this tug of war the dead raptor rose from the gravel to its full span, dancing upright, feathers bristling in the wind. I was tired and slightly loopy, it’s true, but it looked to me as if that eagle were taunting me, capering at the roadside as if to say, Here I am, not gone yet!

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Page Number: 250
Explanation and Analysis:
Stones for Bread Quotes

According to this new dispensation Australia does not belong to the wider world. We’re nobody’s fool. We have no obligations to our fellow humans, unless it suits us. Why? Because we are exceptional therefore beyond reproach. What makes us so special is not clear but we are determined, it seems, to distinguish ourselves in the world by our callousness, by our unwavering hardness of heart.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker)
Page Number: 256
Explanation and Analysis:
Sea Change Quotes

The good old days may be long gone, yet here we are, as ever, launching a boat from the beach in a quiet bay under cloudless skies, bobbing on clean water. In an hour we’ll have enough sweet-tasting fish to feed two households.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker), Tim Winton’s Father
Related Symbols: The Ocean
Page Number: 278
Explanation and Analysis:
Barefoot in the Temple of Art Quotes

There were many things I didn’t understand, stuff that made me uneasy, stripes and splashes and globs on pedestals that had me scratching my head. There seemed to be no limit to what people could think of, and that was a giddy feeling. On and on the galleries went. And on and on I trekked, until finally I yielded in dismay, backtracked like a sunburnt Hansel and found my clan hunkered by the entrance, spent and waiting.

Related Characters: Tim Winton (speaker), Tim Winton’s Father, Tim Winton’s Mother
Page Number: 293
Explanation and Analysis:
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Tim Winton Character Timeline in The Boy Behind the Curtain

The timeline below shows where the character Tim Winton appears in The Boy Behind the Curtain. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Boy Behind the Curtain
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In the 1970s at the age of 13, Winton, the narrator and author, has a habit of hiding behind the curtain in the front... (full context)
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Winton loves taking the gun out to shoot rabbits and foxes. On Sunday afternoons, he’s entrusted... (full context)
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The gun Winton uses isn’t a particularly powerful or glamorous one, but he knows it can kill. That... (full context)
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Tim’s family’s home, which they’ve recently moved into, is on the top of a hill, which... (full context)
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Looking back on his 13-year-old self, Winton knows he didn’t fully understand the implications of his actions. He didn’t know what it... (full context)
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Winton describes his behavior as a “compulsion,” fueled by sneakiness and anticipation. The empty house was... (full context)
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Nothing happens to 13-year-old Tim, and after a few months his habit dies out. He becomes less dependent on the... (full context)
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Reflecting on this period in his life, Winton knows that he might’ve met a worse end if he’d been a boy from a... (full context)
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Guns continue to fascinate teenage Tim; he joins the cadets for the sole reason that it allows him to “blow stuff... (full context)
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As a parent, Winton doesn’t keep any weapons in the home, though his children are still exposed to guns... (full context)
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When Tim’s children hear a gun fired for the first and only time—on a paddock of Tim’s... (full context)
A Space Odyssey at Eight
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When Winton is in fourth grade, his teacher wheels a television into the classroom and finds the... (full context)
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The year before, Winton and a group of his friends go to the cinema to see 2001 for the... (full context)
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The film continues to perplex Winton and his friends—it seems to lack an ordinary narrative, and yet the sense of dread... (full context)
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As an adult, Winton still revisits this film occasionally, but it’s never a nostalgic experience. Each time, he thinks... (full context)
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Winton notes that the irony of 2001 is the transformation of the human characters into robotic... (full context)
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Winton thinks about what humans will become at the hands of technology; the film suggests that... (full context)
Havoc: A Life in Accidents
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At nine years old, Winton sits in the passenger seat as his father drives them home from the beach. They’ve... (full context)
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Winton leans forward to see his father kneeling beside a motionless body before dragging the motorbike... (full context)
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...the ambulance approaches, he yells and struggles more violently, saying that he needs to go. Tim’s father holds the rider down. When the ambulance arrives, the chaos deepens, and the rider’s... (full context)
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The police arrive, and Winton and his father head home. His father downplays the incident to his mother, but Winton... (full context)
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Winton grew up as a child of a police officer who worked in the Accidents Branch... (full context)
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Tim’s father is catastrophically injured in the crash; when the paramedics find him, he’s close to... (full context)
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Winton habitually seeks out his father’s helmet—the one he was wearing during the accident. The inside... (full context)
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Tim’s father’s accident and long recovery force Winton to grow up quickly and become useful in... (full context)
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Winton finds it extremely strange that a strange man is undressing, carrying, and bathing his father,... (full context)
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After Tim’s father recovers, he returns to work; he initially works the Accident Desk and then draws... (full context)
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Winton realizes as an adult that the motorbike accident he witnessed with his father bothered him... (full context)
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Eight years after witnessing that motorcycle accident, Winton finds himself in a car crash, the only passenger in a car that plows through... (full context)
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The accident and ensuing recovery focus Tim’s mind. He’s been drifting along at university, but after returning to work, he writes three... (full context)
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As a teenager, Winton toys with near-death experiences. He crawls into tight underwater crevices with only a snorkel and... (full context)
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Looking back, Winton reflects on the fact that those and other moments of danger were times in which... (full context)
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As an adult, Winton no longer goes looking for trouble, though trouble seems to have followed him through his... (full context)
A Walk at Low Tide
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Before sunrise, Winton heads out on his daily walk along the shoreline near his house. Though the landscape... (full context)
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Though Winton walks the beach every day and often sees new things, he rarely actually pays attention... (full context)
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Winton occasionally realizes that each of these trillions of creatures on the shoreline has its own... (full context)
Repatriation
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In 2008, Winton drives north from Perth to Mt Gibson Station through what used to be extremely biodiverse... (full context)
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Though some still consider the northern wheatbelt Winton is driving through a heroic piece of history, to Tim, the land is desolate and... (full context)
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Isolation vs. Community Theme Icon
Winton feels out of place this far inland, identifying strongly as a coastal person and feeling... (full context)
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...to preserve and protect it, including the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, which runs Mt Gibson Sanctuary. Winton is returning to the sanctuary for the first time in several years. He pulls in... (full context)
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Winton touches the earth and notices how fragile it is. The soil erosion and habitat loss... (full context)
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...surrounding buildings were full of life, a hub of scientists and their vehicles and equipment. Winton arrived then for the first time, knowing only that the project was run by a... (full context)
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Back in 2008, Winton leaves the homestead and drives on to reach Lake Moore before the sun sets. He... (full context)
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Indeed, in 2004, Winton travelled to an offshore island to release boodies into the wild. He held one against... (full context)
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Winton notices how much more vegetation covers the sanctuary compared to his last visit. The flora... (full context)
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Winton reflects on the lives of three girls who trekked across this wilderness in 1931: Molly... (full context)
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In the morning, Winton wakes to the sounds of pigeons and cockatoos. He walks along the shore until he... (full context)
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...but that protection is fragile, its custodian an old man living hundreds of kilometers away. Winton suggests it’s less of a powerful ancient presence and more a reminder of all that... (full context)
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However, Winton notes that more and more frequently, Aboriginal people have been returning to this place, and... (full context)
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Winton sees hope growing in other areas. A nearby sheep station was also recently destocked and... (full context)
Betsy
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Tim’s father’s father was the only one of his grandparents to drive a car. As a... (full context)
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...has a tiny engine and signal arms to alert other drivers to the turning direction. Winton will later have fond memories of the car, but in his youth, he finds it... (full context)
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It’s not that Betsy is odd that Winton is embarrassed by her. Tim’s used to oddness in his family. But the car is... (full context)
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One day, after eating at a Chinese restaurant, Winton and his family get into Betsy to make the six-hour trip back to the city.... (full context)
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Looking back, Winton suggests he was too quick to judge Betsy—after all, she survived several eras of human... (full context)
Twice on Sundays
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During childhood, Winton finds Sundays ominous and melancholy. Even as the end of the weekend approaches, he and... (full context)
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Tim’s family stands out for its devout habits—frequent churchgoing is no longer a common practice in... (full context)
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For Winton, the stories in the Bible are “imaginative bread and butter.” The stories from the Old... (full context)
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...baptisms, and communion precede the sermon, upon which churchgoers judge the quality of a service. Winton experiences the sermons as things he must survive physically and mentally—tests of the spirit more... (full context)
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At Tim’s mother’s parents’ house, Winton and his immediate family are considered strange for their devout religious... (full context)
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Because Australia is so irreligious, Winton feels that he grows up in a counterculture: the church is like his family. Though... (full context)
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Tim’s parents converted to Christianity as adults and joined the local Church of Christ, which takes... (full context)
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...and improve themselves. Just as in Jeanette Winterson’s novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Tim’s experience is of a group of people bound by camaraderie and kindness—people seeking “to liberate... (full context)
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Winton realizes that faith depends on story, which is the vehicle for all theological teachings. He... (full context)
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Though at school, Winton feels that peers and teachers might ignore him, at church, people recognize him as a... (full context)
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Winton appreciates the kindness and community of the church, but amid the turbulent politics of the... (full context)
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Winton has become a wide reader, and his excitement for the philosophy of thinkers like Bonhoeffer... (full context)
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In particular, the thing that bothers Winton about the church’s changing attitude is the repeated idea by members that “this world is... (full context)
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Through his twenties, Winton moves between different, more progressive churches, but he doesn’t feel satisfied by what they offer.... (full context)
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In the present, Winton still doesn’t know what kind of believer he is, though he still identifies as a... (full context)
High Tide
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Winton and a companion step outside into a blisteringly hot day. The heat is dry and... (full context)
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...the rocky bar, the sand is desiccated, only covered by water at the fullest tide. Winton and his partner reach the reef, which is swarming with life—lagoon rays and brightly colored... (full context)
The Wait and the Flow
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Winton remembers a conversation with a neighbor who asked him what the point of surfing was.... (full context)
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At the age of five, Winton gets his first taste of surfing when his cousins push him out to the break... (full context)
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...In the 1950s, it was a way to express one’s individuality, and it had what Winton calls its “Romantic era” in the sixties and seventies. In his childhood, it’s a way... (full context)
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...aggression, racism, and misogyny. Fewer and fewer women surf, put off by the unfriendly culture. Winton opts for snorkeling and diving rather than surfing—he doesn’t gel with the culture either. But... (full context)
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Surfing offers Winton a chance to experience beauty and connection. It’s a meditative activity. Unlike other sports, it... (full context)
In the Shadow of the Hospital
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Winton mulls on the idea of the hospital as a shelter, a refuge in the most... (full context)
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As a five-year-old, Winton experiences the fear that hospitals represent when his father goes to one and comes out... (full context)
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When Tim’s father is mostly recovered, he still has to walk with a stick, and whenever he... (full context)
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As an adult, one of the images Winton sees when he thinks of a hospital is of the main character in Johnny Get... (full context)
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Though in childhood his family makes several hospital visits and he’s well-acquainted with the place, Winton is never admitted as a child. When he’s 18, though, he wakes up in a... (full context)
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Even though the chaos, fear, and pain of being acutely injured or ill is overwhelming, Winton finds that it’s at least a distraction. But the long road of recovery is the... (full context)
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Winton ends up marrying a nurse, who brings home signs of the hospital in the way... (full context)
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For five years, Winton and his family live next door to Fremantle Hospital, a large metropolitan hospital. It seems... (full context)
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...apart, as a suburban hospital might be; its bright lights and security guards often give Winton the feeling that he’s unwelcome in his own neighborhood. The hospital seems to have its... (full context)
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One night, Winton wakes to hear someone ramming against the doors of the mental health unit with his... (full context)
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After a while, Tim’s family moves a few blocks away from the hospital, tired of its incessant energy. But... (full context)
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When Tim’s first grandchild is born, he waits in the hospital for the first bit of news.... (full context)
The Battle for Ningaloo Reef
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...listing for the area. The announcement promises hope for a group of conservation activists including Tim, who’s shocked by the strength of the announcement. Winton and the other campaigners have spent... (full context)
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In 2000, Winton meets with five other fledgling campaigners from vastly different backgrounds to discuss the marina proposal.... (full context)
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...forming alliances with larger wildlife groups. As an author whose focus is on his novel, Winton feels out of place at planning meetings. And Western Australia, especially the rural parts, are... (full context)
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...meaning that any effort to make a difference is met with resignation and cynicism. Still, Winton finds there’s optimism and kindness everywhere—people offer their cars, their time, their houses, and their... (full context)
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In September 2001, the campaign holds their first public meeting. Winton is the headline act, but he feels like an imposter. He’s the campaign’s hope of... (full context)
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...treasure can be used for commercial tourism. Eventually, the campaigners arrange meetings with cabinet ministers—though Winton does his best to avoid any meeting he can. (full context)
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Over the course of the campaign, Winton figures out the motivations and behavior of parliamentarians, lobbyists, and journalists. It’s a cynical world... (full context)
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...days. The resort’s public relations team fights back, casting the campaign into doubt, but when Tim’s book wins several major prizes, he attracts more attention to the campaign. However, the campaign... (full context)
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...premier announces his decision to protect the reef, the campaign is greeted with happy chaos. Winton knows that the battle to save the reef isn’t over, but he acknowledges the victory... (full context)
Letter from a Strong Place
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Winton wanders through the woods behind the cottage where he’s staying, checking rabbit snares and noticing... (full context)
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Winton and his wife and small son have spent the winter in the cottage—it’s spring now,... (full context)
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Winton writes productively, his story seeming to form its own shape. Over the winter, the cottage... (full context)
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...Over the centuries, the murders—including a fratricide—continued. When he helped to clear out the castle, Winton found an uncovered trapdoor that led to a dungeon into which victims were dropped and... (full context)
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Winton spends some of his time exploring the castle and often feeling spooked by it. He... (full context)
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Despite Winton’s skepticism, there are a few things that he’s noticed in the past months that have... (full context)
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When Winton arrived, the cottage where he works was a damp, rotting ruin, but with a builder’s... (full context)
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...exorcism performed anyway. On his birthday, he hosts a huge party in the castle, and Winton notices that not one ghost story is shared all night. (full context)
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After a few months at Leap Castle, Winton realizes he feels weighed down by the history of the place. He’s not accustomed to... (full context)
Chasing Giants
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On winter nights, Winton and his wife lie in bed listening to humpback whales breach and crash near the... (full context)
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Winton has loved dolphins and whales since childhood, and after whaling stopped in Australia, he’s had... (full context)
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Early in the season, Winton will often give reckless chase to a pod of whales hopelessly far out from shore,... (full context)
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Winton finds himself surrounded by a pod of humpbacks who have seemingly slowed to check him... (full context)
The Demon Shark
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As a child, Winton becomes accustomed to the luxury of wide-open space that comes along with living in Australia.... (full context)
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The film trailer instills in Winton an awareness of sharks and the horror they signify—suddenly, he’s much more aware of the... (full context)
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Winton becomes obsessed with sharks, reading everything he can about them and poring over images and... (full context)
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Winton’s children ask him, “Why did God make sharks?” He’s tempted to reply, “To sell newspapers.”... (full context)
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Though public feelings about animal cruelty have become more sympathetic and driven by justice over Winton’s lifetime, people still seem to lack sympathy for sharks. Though bees kill more people than... (full context)
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Winton has had joyful and fun experiences with sharks and has found sharks to be as... (full context)
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...are killed, their food systems lose regulation, creating monocultures and potentially wiping out whole ecosystems. Winton believes that public opinion and awareness of sharks needs to change in order to save... (full context)
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One day in winter, Winton notices that as a storm presses in, there’s a swelling tide. He heads north in... (full context)
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Winton catches a wave in and begins to paddle back out when a set of strong... (full context)
Using the C-word
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In 2013, during an interview, a journalist asks Winton whether he really means to use the word “class” to describe the distinctions between two... (full context)
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Winton suggests that Australians now think of themselves as divided between those who make an effort... (full context)
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It seems to Winton that raising the issue of class in Australia sets off alarm bells that that person... (full context)
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Growing up, Winton was aware of class and simultaneously told by many teachers that every Australian had a... (full context)
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...less constrained by class divisions than many occupations, mostly hail from socially mobile families, and Winton finds himself amongst a small group of writers who rose from working-class backgrounds to middle-class... (full context)
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At a literary party in Soho in 1995, a drunk editor describes Winton as “chippy.”. He realizes that, because he brought up the topic of having been working... (full context)
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Winton wrestles with the fact that his face is on a postage stamp, which is the... (full context)
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Before Winton got to university, he didn’t know anyone who wasn’t working class; a tertiary education was... (full context)
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...are witnessing the social mobility of those they assumed were in a lower class. When Winton was a child, working-class people described themselves as “battlers,” but now the middle class has... (full context)
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Winton suggests that the most overlooked class of people in Australia is the working poor—cleaners, carers,... (full context)
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Winton worries that the government’s preoccupation with keeping the middle class happy will limit the working... (full context)
Lighting Out
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One April, Winton receives the news that his publishers are happy with his final manuscript: his book is... (full context)
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...Australia, huge distances separate state lines, so getting to the border takes a few days. Winton remembers when his family crossed this border in 1969. When the blacktop road changed to... (full context)
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The next morning, Winton drives across the barren landscape, and when he finally stops, he feels “stoned,” the smallest... (full context)
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By the third day, Winton feels relaxed as he drives. He’s aiming for Ceduna, the first town across the border,... (full context)
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Though Winton races home, only stopping to sleep, the road looks different to him. He notices roadkill... (full context)
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The preceding November, Winton has finished with his latest novel. He boxes up the hefty manuscript, ready to send... (full context)
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Winton sends the manuscript to his friends, who all kindly agree with him—there’s a book somewhere... (full context)
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Back in the present, on his last night of travel, Winton sits in the dark by his cooling fire. His thoughts begin to drift back to... (full context)
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Though the eagle scene is gone from the novel, Winton still carries it, and the process of writing and perfecting it, in his memory. As... (full context)
Stones for Bread
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When Winton considers the Australia he sees around him, he thinks of Jesus asking, “If a child... (full context)
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...mocked or ignored. The country battles against any obligation they might have to help them. Winton suggests that Australians weren’t always so scared of strangers or so hostile to those seeking... (full context)
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Winton is ashamed of Australia’s methods of cruelty toward refugees. He thinks the government hides refugees’... (full context)
Remembering Elizabeth Jolley
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At the age of 18, Winton enrolls in a writing class at university. His teacher, Elizabeth Jolley, is different from what... (full context)
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When Winton is at university, the writing course is still a work in progress, as is Elizabeth... (full context)
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...expression to a level stare down the camera lens. But back in the 1970s when Winton is her student, he sees more ambition than confidence in her—a drive to be respected... (full context)
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When people ask Winton what it was like to be taught by Elizabeth Jolley, he’s reluctant to answer for... (full context)
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While Elizabeth’s student, Winton senses that Elizabeth defers to her husband’s taste and shares her favorite pieces of her... (full context)
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...writers. She’s involved in reading communities, visiting book clubs to answer questions about her work. Winton realizes the peril of not paying her appropriate respect when she catches him submitting sub-par... (full context)
Sea Change
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Early in the morning, Winton and his father take the dinghy out to go fishing. Tim’s father is over 80... (full context)
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Winton’s father asks him how many fish they’re allowed to catch. When Winton tells his father... (full context)
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Last summer, Winton took his granddaughter into the ocean for the first time and was thrilled by the... (full context)
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Tim’s understanding of the threatened oceanic world was mild and distant until a catastrophic oil spill... (full context)
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...of both governmental and non-governmental organizations to preserve and protect parts of Australia’s coastal wildlife, Winton thinks that in a few decades, those voices will be less common. Most of those... (full context)
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When Winton begins to despair at the incremental changes humans make to protect the natural world, he... (full context)
Barefoot in the Temple of Art
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Winton watches children reach into the wall of water that falls in the entryway of the... (full context)
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Winton and his family travel from isolated Perth to metropolitan Melbourne in 1969. The journey is... (full context)
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Winton and his siblings look forward to the National Gallery, not for the art it holds... (full context)
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Embarrassed and out of place, Winton spends a long time staring at the same statue, reluctant to explore anything else. But... (full context)
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Though Winton doesn’t see himself as a genius, he knows that he wants to do what the... (full context)
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In the present day, Tim’s delighted to return to the National Gallery and see it full of visitors. The water... (full context)