Lobsters, Love Triangles And Bigots – It’s A Hell Of A Movie Essay, Research Paper
Lobsters, love triangles and bigots – it’s a hell of a movieDirt MusicTim WintonPicador ?15.99, pp461In more than 20 years as a professional writer, Australian Tim Winton has done a lot for the sake of money. That’s no shocking thing in itself. Winton lived off $A1,000 advance for each of his first three novels, so he will have had to do something to get by. And he has: since his debut novel, An Open Swimmer, written at the age of 19, earned him the 1981 ‘Australian/Vogel Award’, he has published another 16 works, including Booker-Prize nominated The Riders, Cloudstreet, which won the Miles Franklin Award (Australia’s most prestigious prize, of which Winton is a two-time winner), and his Lockie Leonard children’s series.Of the Lockie books, Winton has said that he wrote them as much ‘to recapture the feelings I had at 12 to 14′ as for money, because ‘writing is my only marketable skill’. With Dirt Music, Winton has successfully reworked that skill to write a novel so cinematic you suspect he wouldn’t mind if it fetched a pretty little sum for the film rights.Dirt Music is a slow starter, but then, when we meet her for the first time, Georgie Jutland is barely afloat on a sea of vodka. After a night spent surfing the net, her morning is a miasma of disillusionment, hurt and anger at having been bumped by the server. Once a nurse, Georgie is now a full-time wife to fisherman Jim Buckridge and stepmother to his two sons, Josh and Brad.On that November morning, Georgie stares out to sea, stirring memories of her work in a Saudi Arabian hospital, memories that come back to haunt her. She stares out to see mysterious movements in the dark: a truck and trailer, and an unmarked boat being launched with stealth. It’s a ‘moment of unscripted action in White Point’, the fishing town virtually run by Jim and the family legend.White Point is a scary Western Australian hole, riddled with small-town violence. The fishermen christen their boats Reaper, Slayer, Black Bitch and Raider. Though a tightknit community, there’s a criminal quality about the place, one which gave birth to a band of nouveau riche during a boom in rock lobster. Racism hangs thick in the air; Japanese tourists are spat at.But if there’s one thing that really bothers White Pointers, it’s a poacher. And what Georgie sees lurking in that morning mist is the local shamateur, Luther Fox. He is a man who’s spent years being invisible to White Pointers, especially since the last death in his family. ‘I came back from that last funeral,’ he says, ‘and burned all my papers. Licences, any ID, school reports. Never had a tax file number anyway. Just go off the grid, you know. Live a secret. Be a secret.’Fox also gave up the one thing that had kept everything together: playing dirt music, acoustic and bluesy tunes on the family verandah, his very sense of land, home and country.Soon, however, he appears to Georgie. To her, Fox embodies change. Within hours of their initial encounter, he has driven Georgie to Perth and they’ve embarked on a fatal affair. With it, his secret is out, and White Pointers are quick to pick up on the fact. Before even Georgie admits to the infidelity, before even Fox is proven shamateur, his truck is destroyed and his dog killed. Fox bolts for Broome in the north because he knows he’s next. Georgie returns to Jim, swearing she’ll leave after Christmas.The three of them – Georgie, Jim, and Fox – make up a neat triangle. All struggle to deal with their individual and related histories. For Georgie, things come to a head when her mother dies and she’s confronted once more with her shopaholic sisters and adulterous father (regrettably, a bunch of unimaginative characters by Winton’s standards, which includes hysterical, pill-guzzling women, and a rich, bigot lawyer). Jim, still torn by the death of his first wife, Debbie, obsessively seeks to make amends, amends which bear on Fox’s past too.While making amends can be a rough journey, Winton switches with ease between Georgie and her two men. In chapters often as short as a page, he offers snippets of the past and fragments of the present to carry their common existence forward. Winton’s prose can be inventive and as sharp as it is simple. But at the same time, Dirt Music seems cluttered with visuals and asides pitched at the big screen.