Book 64 Completed
I was hoping to finish Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet faster…but there was some baseball to focus on (my beloved Giants are headed to the World Series!!! I tried to talk Matt into going down to SF for a game, but we’d have to spend my maternity leave savings), a book club to attend (and some poetry to read to prepare), lessons to plan, papers to grade…AND this book doesn’t really read fast. I don’t think I could have rushed myself through this language and story if I tried…the book moves quickly, but its pace is still slow; it’s like this: You could read the words at any rate you want, but the whole essence of the book is tied up in the richness of the language — just when you think you can make up ground, you find yourself jumping into sentences and paragraphs and swimming around in them for a bit. And I had to do a fair-bit of re-reading too…which doesn’t bode well for making up ground.
It’s a beautiful book.
But it’s not an easy read either. The Australian lingo is tough. I could maneuver through stylized jargon in Steinbeck or Twain — but you add the same place-and-time centered language with a location on the other side of the world? It was rough reading. It took me forever to realize that “carn” meant “come” — and I’m still not certain what “fair dinkum” means or any other number of slang terms, and it does slow you down as a reader to find yourself consistently surrounded by the unfamiliar. On the other hand, it didn’t take away from the sprawling story or the eccentric characters.
Cloudstreet is atmospheric, funny, sad, strange, familiar.
It’s not perfect; it didn’t end the way I wanted it to, but the book cannot be blamed for that. As a matter of fact, I’ll have to let the ending settle on me even more before I decide if I can even like the ending. And there are some fatty parts that needed trimming. But those are my only two complaints — I got swept up in this magical saga. Now, I don’t know much about Australia, but people who do say that this book captures that country well. Which makes me feel accomplished for adding this to my list and having it represent this country for the challenge.
Now, on to New Zealand with another 400+ page book. Hey — I’m really earning my 80 books here. No one can argue that with me.