Sunday, 20 April 2008

Deep Breathing

Twelve years ago, I was living and working in Australia as part of the 18-month period I spent travelling around the world (it seems soooo long ago now...). My diary from 12 years ago to this day reads like this:

Today. Gawd! Up at 5.15, aarrgh! Nightmare or what. Slept really badly due to the nutter’s midnight prowls. Picked up at 6am, worked an 11-hour day. Never worked so hard in my life. Knackering. Everyone is okay except this woman Ann who plays her shite CDs all day. Today me and Erika washed and sorted ONE THOUSAND banana bags. Arrrrr, shite or what?...

Oooh yes, that was awful. Working on a banana farm in Innisfail, Queensland. Luckily after a few weeks of that, I’d saved enough dollars to move on and was in gorgeous koala-tastic Magnetic Island, where I got a job painting the men’s toilets in the backpackers’ hostel where I was staying, before being promoted to the dizzy heights of – gasp! – kitchen assistant to the most miserable chef in the southern hemisphere.

Anyway, amidst all that glamour, I was trying to read as many Australian authors as possible although being a skint traveller I was reduced to swapping books and getting them from second-hand places, so it was pot luck. But in between painting toilets on Magnetic Island, I discovered Tim Winton. AHHHH! I have a really clear memory of lying in bright Aussie sunshine, stinking of turps, feeling a bit fuzzy from too much VB or whatever it was the night before, reading Cloudstreet and just feeling blown away by it. Oooooh. Just so fantastic.

So imagine how chuffed I was to win a competition on the Picador blog a few weeks ago, where the prize was an early proof of TW’s new book, Breath. I finished it the other week and it really made me feel as if I was back there – the sound of the ocean, the karri trees and peppermint scrub, the houses on stilts, the wildness and loneliness of rural Australia… I love the way he writes – so sensual, so physical, such powerfully atmospheric scenes. The story is about Bruce, a boy who’s always felt an outsider, his friendship with Loonie (another outsider), and their love of surfing. All innocence at first, but then they become involved with an older couple, Sando and Eva, and gradually things becomes darker and more intense between them all.
Reading the story is rather like being gathered up in a huge wave, if that isn’t too obvious a metaphor. You know it’s going to break at some point and are hanging on, waiting to see how hard the crash will be…and whether there will be any survivors to tell the tale…
Anyway, it’s out in a week or so, I think. Totally recommend it.
And hello everyone, by the way! It's nice to be back.

21 comments:

JJ said...

Ooh, Tim Winton, yes he's been recommended to me here. I've got Cloudstreet on my TBR pile.

Lovely to see you back!
JJx

Leigh said...

Yey! You're back!

I was much luckier in Australia, to be steered away from the fruit picking I wanted to do, and towards a care agency run by a friend of my cousin's. Despite having no experience, or qualification, I earned $500 in one week, looking after a senile old lady. Mind you, I will still insist that I earned every penny. If I hear "have you soaked my prunes" one more time....

Lucy Diamond said...

Hi JJ, I hope you like Cloudstreet when you get round to it!

Hi Leigh, oh you lucky thing, I did LOTS of fruit picking and it was bloody grim, most of the time! Give me old ladies and prunes any day...!

Calistro said...

Lovely to see you back :o)

pierre l said...

It is indeed lovely to have you back. I was reading a friendly mini-review of "Any Way You Want Me" at Angie's:
angiemichaelis.blogspot.com
and decided to try your web-site.

Sarah*G* said...

Yay you're back!
I am so jealous of people who have travelled around the world. Never had the nerve to do it myself. Maybe I will do it when kiddies are all grown up and moved out. hmmm, might take me that long to save up for it! lol!
btw: bought your book from waterastones and it is sat on my shelf waiting to be read. got to finish current one then it is on to you!

Lucy Diamond said...

Cheers Cal - I like your funky new avatar - and alias!

Ooh, thanks for that, Pierre, I'll have a look...always pleased to hear of a nice new review, especially after the mean 2-star one I had the other day on Amazon (sob)...

Hello Sarah*g*! Thanks for buying my book you lovely person. And I hope you go travelling one day...you'll just have to finish that bestseller and take a few years off on those mega-royalties! :)

pierre l said...

I have just been to look at the two-star review you were talking about on Amazon; it is interesting to note that this reviewer has reviewed three books, and found them all pretty awful - I see a hint of jealousy there. The one-star one is also interesting: I think she is trying to push a friend's book because she gives yours one star while mentioning another book and giving that five stars (and a review career of two items, both on the same day).
I then looked at the one who gave you four stars: she has twenty review to her credit over a long period, she seems to have loved the book and is looking forward to the next one. That's the sort of review you need to look at!
Please don't let them upset you!
I read "AWYWM" many months ago, and had trouble putting it down. I pre-ordered your next book more or less when it was announced.

NoviceNovelist said...

Hi Lucy, Welcome back. Oh what a lovely start to a grey Monday - discussing Tim Winton. I saw the most glorious stage production of Cloudstreet in Western Australia about 12-13 years ago when I lived there. It was mesmerising. And you're right he captures the soul of a place so beautifully! Aahhh.

Lucy Diamond said...

Oh Pierre, thanks for your sleuthing - that's very interesting! And thanks for your kind words about AWYWM too - I have long accepted that you can't please everyone, but it's very nice to get good feedback when people DO like it. Cheers!

Hi NN, oh a stage production of Cloudstreet sounds fab - lucky you! And yes, on a grey Monday like today, a bit of that pure Aussie sunshine does seem even more appealing...

Angie said...

Welcome back, Lucy. As Pierre already told you, I enjoyed your book very much and was glad to get my hands on it.
Your travels sounds so interesting! I love hearing stories like that. Thanks for the Tim Winton tip too, I hadn't heard of him, but will look him up now.
Cheers. :)

Clare Sudbery said...

Oh, I'm on the look-out for good books. That sounds great.

Lucy Diamond said...

Thank you, Angie! I'm glad you enjoyed the book and thanks for mentioning it on your blog. :)

Hi Clare - yes, it's a good 'un. I am still thinking about the characters now which is always a good sign!

Maddie Moon said...

Hi Lucy

So glad you're back.
I finished your book last week and LOVED it!!! (Have you been peeping into my life, I wonder!?) It made me laugh, it made me cry. Great job. Can't wait for the next one.

Lucy Diamond said...

Ohhh...laughing AND crying...what more could an author wish for? Thank you so much for reading it, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Hoorah!!

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Lovely to see you back, I missed you. I'll look out for Tim Winton. My current fave Aussie author is Murray Ball, do you know his work? I loved 'Eucalyptus'.

liz fenwick said...

Welcome back! Sounds like a brilliant read - will keep my eyes open for it!

Lucy Diamond said...

Hi Zinnia, I haven't read anything by Murray Ball - will check him out, thanks!

And hi Liz! Nice to see you again too :)

Steve Cater said...

thats's crazy,
i worked in the same place... innisfail. was it steve's backpackers that you stayed in??

small world

Lucy Diamond said...

Yes!!
Small world indeed. When were you there? Did you have a lovely job on a banana farm too?!

Steve Cater said...

i did - it was 2004/5... ah, good times.