Review by Joseph Cummins
Tim Winton's writing – novels, short stories, books for young adults, theatre, and essay – continues to garner critical and popular acclaim, positioning him in the top echelon of Australian authors working today. Editors of this collection of critical essays, Lyn McCredden and Nathanael O'Reilly, pick up on this almost universal appreciation, suggesting Winton's writing is 'therefore a remarkable barometer of Australian culture . . . there is a contestation of what it is to be Australian, to be human and to make and question meaning' (3). Tempering this cultural utility, the editors place the collection at an appropriate critical distance from Winton, stating: 'While we do not always "agree" with his political or aesthetic effects, we hail his courageous literary exploration of human, Australian, contemporary limitations and aspirations' (14). This sentiment resonates through many of the essays in the collection and was something that, as a reader who has grown tired of some of Winton's thematic preoccupations, gave me renewed energy; such a move could be of benefit to other author-centred collections.
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