From Go to Whoa

Sally Mapstone

  • Dirt Music by Tim Winton
    Picador, 466 pp, £15.99, May 2002, ISBN 0 330 49024 9

Tim Winton’s new novel is a love story that comes out of a background of isolation and accident. Georgie Jutland, a fortyish ex-nurse from a good family, has got herself into a three-year relationship with Jim Buckridge, a widowed, well-off lobster fisherman with two young sons. She is living with them in conditions of domestic comfort but emotional torpor in White Point, a fishing community north of Perth. A lot of things in both adults’ pasts lie undiscussed. Jim has not really come to terms with being the son of a domineering, dynastic father, and with losing his wife through cancer; Georgie has a history of relationships with bad boys and of disappointing her parents and siblings. In the early hours one morning, after a night spent surfing the Net and drinking vodka, Georgie picks out a lone vessel in the darkness of the bay. It is there, she realises, to poach fish before the licensed fishing crews set out. Georgie goes down to the ocean and finds the boat’s trailer, with a dog chained to it. She releases the dog and goes for a swim with it. She does not report the boat.

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