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The Boy Behind the Curtain by Tim Winton (Penguin Random House Australia)
Sharks, whales and feral rabbits; surf, sand and sea; childhood memories of guns, cars and car accidents; the battle for Ningaloo Reef and the plight of refugees; the novelist Elizabeth Jolley, a ‘genteel old lady in hippie dress and sandals’; the big questions of class and religion in Australia, examined with depth and sensitivity — all of these matters are brought into focus in this long-striding collection.
Winton is known for his novels, but in this book he proves that he is equally skilled as an essayist, a memoir-writer, a passionate polemicist, and as a literary critic with a particular interest in the process of writing. There are many insights, and beautiful passages of landscape description, among these pieces that any reader can appreciate even if unfamiliar with the fiction of Australia’s unofficial prose laureate of the coastline and the embattled underclasses.