CLOUDSTREET by Tim Winton

I read this quite a while ago and couldn’t find my review to link to and darn if it was nowhere to be seen!  I now have a fuzzy recollection of writing it, and something happened and my entire review got erased before I could post it, so here I am trying to put together another post of a book I read maybe a year ago.  I can’t remember what I had for breakfast, let alone dredge up a sprawling plot (I do remember that much) of a story from the dim annals of my mind.

Official Plot Description:  Struggling to rebuild their lives after being touched by disaster, the Pickle family, who’ve inherited a big house called Cloudstreet in a suburb of Perth, take in the God-fearing Lambs as tenants. The Lambs have suffered their own catastrophes, and determined to survive, they open up a grocery on the ground floor. From 1944 to 1964, the shared experiences of the two overpopulated clans — running the gamut from drunkenness, adultery, and death to resurrection, marriage, and birth — bond them to each other and to the bustling, haunted house in ways no one could have anticipated.

The book chronicles the aching, bitter, crude, and sweet fortunes of two Australian families, the Lambs and the Pickles, from 1944-64. Brought together by need, greed, tragedy and a mysterious Other, the families’ stories collide and spring away over the years. They live in the same rotting mansion, separated by thin walls and different ambitions. The families’ regard for each other alternates between disgust and wonder, passion and forgiveness as their children and their backwater state of Western Australia grow up and away. T he universality of his themes and the recognizable nature of his characters give us  working class families who would be at home in Appalachia, the timber forests of Oregon, the fishing villages of the north Atlantic Coast.

But in spite of all this down to earth-iness of his characters, they all carry that whiff …. no, make it a snortfull … of the surreal, the comic, the very, very strange, and that’s why you keep turning the pages. Not only to find out what happens next, but to answer the question you keep asking yourself:  WTF?

I loved this book.  Wish I hadn’t lost my first review.  It was ever so much better than this one.

 

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