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Book Reviews By Ace ♣

‘ Ace News Room Longreads Book Desk ‘

This is our daily post that is shared across Twitter & Telegram and published first on here with Kindness & Love XX on peace-truth.com/

#AceNewsRoom With β€˜Kindness & Wisdom’ Aug.19, 2022 @acenewsservices

Ace News Room Cutting Floor 19/08/2022

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#AceBookDesk – Today’s Story Recommendations: Here are stories from across the web, along with original essays & reporting from contributors

How Three Amateurs Solved the Zodiac Killer’s β€˜340’ Cipher

In 1969, the Zodiac Killer sent an encoded note to the San Francisco Chronicle. In 2020, someone finally cracked the code. And that someone was three people, with zero cryptography experience, who had met in an online true-crime forum. Kathryn Miles tells you how, and the result is a must for any puzzle fan. Most experts, […] 

The Tragedy of Jayquan McKenley

From the current New York issue’s package on drill music comes this urgent, saddening profile of Jayquan McKenley, a sweethearted teenager and burgeoning artist whose murder sparked a new wave of handwringing around the rap subgenre. Even to drill’s defenders, it seemed clear that social media had sped up a cycle of retaliatory shootings; the Bronx’s […] 

Care Tactics

In an ableist world, health care systems and tech innovators are more invested in high-tech solutions and shiny objects that don’t consider disabled folks’ actual needs during the design process. Many in the disability and caregiving communities rely on their own creative hacks instead, leaning on a culture of collaboration and shared knowledge to make […] 

I Smuggled My Laptop Past the Taliban So I Could Write This Story

An astonishingly powerful first-hand account of journeying to the airport as Kabul fell to the Taliban. In the three days that it took to travel the two and a half miles, Bushra Sedique struggled with a fear of not making it out  β€” and a sadness that she would. Now, suddenly, I had to choose […] 

Longreads Podcast

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Aug.19: 2022:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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Book Reviews By Ace ♣

‘ Ace News Room Book Review Desk ‘

This is our daily post that is shared across Twitter & Telegram and published first on here with Kindness & Love XX on peace-truth.com/

#AceNewsRoom With β€˜Kindness & Wisdom’ Aug.11, 2022 @acenewsservices

Ace News Room Cutting Floor 11/08/2022

Follow Our Breaking & Daily News Here As It Happens:

#AceBookDesk – Best books for readers short on time, as recommended by Jennifer Down, Johann Hari, Tony Birch and more

An illustration depicting a time-poor reader shows a woman holding an hourglass in one hand and a book in the other.
We asked writers, critics and book lovers to recommend reads for busy readers β€“ and they didn’t disappoint.(ABC Arts: Michelle Pereira )none

Do you ever settle in with a book, ready to lose yourself in another world, only to find β€” just a few pages in β€” that this world is demanding your immediate return?

Your kids are screaming, your phone is buzzing, and once again reading falls by the wayside of a busy life.

We asked acclaimed writers, critics and book lovers to recommend great reads for those of us who are starved for time β€” books you can devour quickly, or dip in and out of easily, that still leave you feeling satisfied.

Johann Hari: Return to Uluru by Mark McKenna

A book cover shows a grainy-looking aerial shot of Uluru.
Johann Hari describes Return to Uluru as “extremely compelling”.(Supplied: Black Inc Books)none

In 1934, an Aboriginal man named Yokunnuna was shot near Uluru by Bill McKinnon, a white police officer.

Almost 90 years later, historian Mark McKenna set out to write a history of the centre of Australia, and found himself drawn to the case.

He spoke to the families of both men, and unearthed new evidence about the case, documenting the revelations in Return to Uluru (2021).

“What he discovers is remarkable,” says British author Johann Hari (Stolen FocusLost Connections).

“What he uncovers offers a very different story about the history of Australia β€” one that’s heartbreaking, but also, in a strange way I don’t want to spoil, ultimately hopeful.”

Hari is a fan of McKenna, having found his book From the Edge in a bookshop a few years ago β€” “in those happy pre-plague days”.

“It blew my mind, so I have been looking out for his next book ever since. He’s a model of a great public intellectual β€” he writes about serious questions in totally accessible ways,” Hari says.

Return to Uluru is part detective story, part historical narrative, and part political discourse.

“It’s a short book with so much history in it β€” and it’s extremely compelling. In places it’s like a thriller,” Hari says.

Jennifer Down: Not to Disturb by Muriel Spark

A book cover of a black door in a black room, cracked open a tiny bit.
The darkly comic story is set in a luxurious mansion, and Jennifer Down says it is “perfect”.(Supplied: New Directions)none

Jennifer Down, who won this year’s Miles Franklin Award for her novel Bodies of Light, says it’s hard to go wrong with anything written by Scottish novelist and poet Muriel Spark.

Spark, who was included by The Times Literary Supplement on its 2008 list of “the 50 greatest British writers since 1945”, is perhaps best known for her novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961).

Yet the title that really stands out to Down is Not to Disturb (1971).

The darkly comic story is set in a luxurious mansion in Geneva, where servants sense a murder is about to be committed – yet they must follow their orders and not disturb the lords of the house.

“Not to Disturb is perfect β€” experimental, a little claustrophobic, and very sharp. It’s also funny,” Down says.

“Set over a single night, it’s a kind of experimental murder mystery that subtly sends up both classic mystery novels and the English master-and-servant narrative.”

At less than 100 pages, it’s great for time-poor readers – and “it’s beautifully executed”, says Down.

“It’s precisely as long as it needs to be, no more; and it whips along at a terrific pace. It reads almost like a play script, with very little introspection or psychological exposition, yet it feels wonderfully complete.”

Tony Birch: Island: Collected Stories by Alistair MacLeod

When award-winning Aboriginal author Tony Birch was younger he would sit in bed at night and read, easily getting through 100 pages before falling asleep.

These days, he says, 20 pages would be a stretch β€” but that’s enough to read many short stories from start to finish.

“You can begin and finish a story while travelling to work on public transport β€” or even at half-time at the football,” says Birch.

The front cover of a book featuring a moody, darkly lit image of cliffs and a beach.
Author Tony Birch couldn’t go past Island: Collected Stories.(Supplied: Penguin)none

Birch is familiar with the particular art of the short story, having dedicated much of his career to the form. His most recent collection, Dark as Last Night, was awarded the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction at this year’s NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

“Silence is a means of consideration. It hangs on the wall hook, suspended against meaning, against utility. Silence is the consideration of meaning, the process of meaning, the place where meaning is born.”

“If I was going to read one short story collection, and think about reading a story each night, I couldn’t go past Alistair MacLeod’s magnificent Island: Collected Stories (2002),” he says.

The collection brings together 16 stories from the celebrated Canadian author, who vividly evokes the rugged beauty of Cape Breton Island, off the coast of Nova Scotia.

“They are magnificent; every line of each story,” says Birch, who first discovered the collection around a decade ago and now buys every copy he finds in op shops to pass along to friends.

“MacLeod’s stories are wonderful for time-poor people because real time is suspended from the first paragraph to the last, when you realise that you are actually time-rich.”

Sulari Gentill: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The cover for The Great Gatsby featuring gold art deco patterns on a green background.
Author Sulari Gentill says the themes and characters of The Great Gatsby still resonate today.(Supplied: HarperCollinsAustralia )none

Award-winning author Sulari Gentill, best known for her Rowland Sinclair detective stories and The Woman in the Library (2022), often takes her readers back to the 30s.

Here she takes us back further still, recommending The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925).

Gentill says she can’t remember a time she wasn’t aware of the classic, which captures the dissolution of a society obsessed with wealth and status.

“The Great Gatsby captures the 1920s in all its heady excess as well as its callous cruelty,” Gentill says.

“Part romance, part mystery, part autobiography, it is a story of the American dream told as a bitter tragedy.”

The book follows a war veteran’s interactions with mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby, who is obsessed with reuniting with his former lover, socialite Daisy Buchanan.

“The words of Fitzgerald’s narrator Nick Carraway will resonate with readers observing the elusive machinations of power and status, and the exclusive nature of society in the modern world,” Gentill says.

It’s barely longer than a novella (which are usually between 10,000 and 40,000 words), making it great for time-poor readers – yet it has an “epic sense despite its brevity”.

“Beautifully written, insightful and haunting, it is the kind of novel that lingers beyond the turning of the final page,” Gentill says.

Bram Presser: Class Trip by Emmanuel Carrère

If you’re a fan of a thrilling final twist, author Bram Presser (Voss Literary Prize winner for The Book of Dirt) has the book for you.

“Suffice to say, I have never been so wrong-footed by a book’s twist before,” he says.

The book in question is Class Trip (1995), a novella by bestselling French author Emmanuel CarrΓ¨re.

The cover of the book Class Trip, featuring small figures of skiers on a stark white background,
Class Trip is easily devoured and incredibly satisfying, says Bram Presser.(Supplied: Penguin)none

“A young boy is driven by his father to meet the rest of his class for a ski trip. After he is dropped off, the father hears on the radio that one of the kids in the class has gone missing. What follows is a masterclass in tense uncertainty and horror,” Presser explains.

“I love the sense of creeping dread that only the best thriller writers are able to conjure.

“In Class Trip, CarrΓ¨re distils it to the point of crystalline perfection with a story so seemingly quiet and tender but so utterly shocking that it ranks among the best short books I’ve ever read.”

That’s saying something, given the number of short books Presser has read; he has a newsletter dedicated to short reviews of novellas (the title, A Book For Ants, made us smile).

He says Class Trip is “easily devoured in a single sitting, not that you’ll want to put it down”.

“Plus you’ll feel like you’ve been pulled through the emotional wringer and spat out in a state of shock.

“Few books can achieve this, let alone one so short. It’s incredibly satisfying.”

Kate Evans: Slow Horses by Mick Herron

“If people are short on time and want book recommendations, they should be listening to The Bookshelf on ABC RN, because that’s what we do (sorry, had to say it),” jokes Kate Evans, who co-hosts the weekly program.

But given the show’s focus on new fiction and spotlighting Australian authors, she thought she’d offer something different here: English writer Mick Herron’s Slow Horses (2010).

The book cover for Slow Horses by Mick Herron shows three people standing in a dark street, gazing toward the reader.
Kate Evans read Slow Horses in two nights, and then moved on to the rest of the series (and the TV show.)(Supplied: Hachette Australia)none

It’s the first in a series of books based on the fictional Slough House, where failed MI5 agents are sent to while away what’s left of their careers.

“There’s plot, poetry, sticky doors and surprising twists,” Evans says.

“It’s a story of failures, stuff-ups, bad behaviour, corruption and betrayal, as we meet a group of spies who’ve all had disastrous career moments, led by a beautifully realised character named Jackson Lamb.”

Don’t expect a heart of gold in Lamb (played by Gary Oldman in the Apple TV+ series of the same name). The leader of the dysfunctional team of rejects is obnoxious, rude, and audaciously outrageous.

“There’s something so compelling about the battered misfits who don’t quite come together in a triumphant hurrah,” Evans says.

At 300-plus pages, Slow Horses may look a little daunting – but don’t let that put you off. It’s a page-turner of the best kind and “totally engrossing,” says Evans.

“I read it in two nights, and have taken every available moment to read the next seven books in the series.”

Michael Mohammed Ahmad: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

The cover of The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran features an illustration of several people dancing in the palm of a hand.
This beloved classic has never been out of print.(Supplied: Penguin Classics)none

Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Miles Franklin-shortlisted author (of the trilogy The TribeThe Lebs and The Other Half of You) and founding director of Sweatshop Literacy Movement in Western Sydney, asked his seven-year-old son to help him out with this one.

“He gave me a cheeky wink and said, ‘The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran’. He might have been a little biased because we named him Kahlil,” Ahmad says.

Philosophical, spiritual and mystical, The Prophet is one of the most beloved classics of our time. Since its publication in 1923, it has been translated into more than 100 languages and has never been out of print; it has sold more than 9 million copies in the US alone.

“My great-grandfather read it to my grandfather, and my grandfather read it to my father, and my father read it to me,” says Ahmad, who quotes The Prophet throughout his own trilogy.

What makes it so special? Ahmad says you could spend a lifetime trying to form a coherent answer and still come up short, “but you begin reading this book and straight away, you know”.

Play Audio. Duration: 26 minutes 16 seconds
The genius of Kahlil Gibran

“The Prophet is written as a collection of spoken word poems. Each verse is a message of peace, wisdom and tenderness, which Al-Mustafa, the chosen and the beloved, shares with his people before returning to the isle of his birth,” he says.

“The verses can be read in chronological order, or you can open the book to any random page and read any random line, and you’ll find yourself humbled and cleansed by its cosmic beauty.”

Rudi Bremer: Hunt the Stars by Jessie Mihalik

A book cover shows a man and a woman silhouetted against a starry space scene.
Hunt the Stars mixes slow-burn romance and high-stakes adventure.(Supplied: HarperCollins Australia)none

“One of the challenges of reading when you’re time-poor is making sure it doesn’t feel like a chore,” says Rudi Bremer, a Gamilaraay woman who presents ABC RN’s Awaye! and ABC Kids listen’s Little Yarns.

“I’ve been a fan of Jessie Mihalik for a few years because she builds worlds that feel full and real, without bogging you down in minutia.”

She recommends Hunt the Stars, the first book in Mihalik’s Starlight’s Shadow series, saying it’s a page-turner that you’ll find the time for.

“Hunt the Stars is a space opera about Octavia (Tavi) Zarola, the captain of a small crew that specialises in bounty hunting,” Bremer explains.

“Against her better judgement Tavi accepts a once-in-a-lifetime job to work with a rival general, Torran Fletcher, and help him recover a family heirloom.”

Mihalik, also the author of the Consortium Rebellion series, typically combines intriguing characters with slow-burn romance and high-stakes adventure.

“This is no exception,” Bremer says of Hunt the Stars.

“Tavi and Torran have great chemistry, and the plot is twisty enough that it’ll keep you guessing – and maybe even making time for the other books in the series.”

Jessie Tu: Happy Stories, Mostly by Norman Erikson Pasaribu

The cover of the book Happy Stories, Mostly featuring an abstract line drawing of a face and hand.
Jessie Tu says reading Happy Stories, Mostly  is like having a conversation with a very engaging person.(Supplied: Giramondo Publishing)none

For the past few years, author and critic Jessie Tu (A Lonely Girl Is a Dangerous Thing) has been making an effort to read more books by writers who don’t write in English.

“I’m constantly appalled by how Anglophonic my literary consumption is,” she says.

She discovered Happy Stories, Mostly (2021), a short story collection by Indonesian author Norman Erikson Pasaribu (and translated by Tiffany Tsao) while trawling the website of Tilted Axis Press, a non-profit publisher of English translations of works by Asian writers.

Pasaribu’s collection was longlisted for the International Booker Prize in 2022.

“When I read it, I get that same feeling as when I’m listening to Joni Mitchell,” Tu says.

“The voice of the queer narrator is campy and clever. Each story is eloquent, and painfully well-written.

“You can read one during a lunchbreak, it’s like having a conversation with a very engaging and interesting person.”

Across the 12 stories in the collection, Pasaribu explores what it means to be almost happy β€” to be on the cusp of grasping it but never quite making it β€” and how to keep going despite that.

Tu says the stories perfectly embody the idea of transvaluation, which “takes a group of experiences that is generally disparaged and asserts it instead as a blessing or fortune”.

“This idea of turning stigma into style is so transformative for me, and something Pasaribu does so beautifully,” she says.

Virginia Trioli: Bedtime Story by Chloe Hooper

The cover of the book Bedtime Story shows a depiction of a starry night sky.
Bedtime Story explores the lessons on life, love and loss that are found in children’s books.(Supplied: Scribner Australia)none

“I’m going to take ruthless advantage of the fact that I know the author,” says ABC broadcaster Virginia Trioli as she recommends Bedtime Story(2022), the most recent book by bestselling author Chloe Hooper.

“I watched my friend Chloe and her sons live and breathe this story before she wrote it.”

Hooper was working on her award-winning book The Arsonist (2019) when her partner and the father of her children was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive blood cancer that is considered fatal.

As she searches for a way to tell their two young sons, Hooper turns to children’s books β€” the ones she reads to her kids, the ones she remembers, and the ones she discovers.

Within their pages, she finds lessons on grief, loss and resilience.

Play Audio. Duration: 16 minutes 50 seconds
Chloe Hooper on talking to kids about life and death

It is, Trioli says, “beautiful and luminous”.

“The themes are eternal, powerful and deeply connecting: we all remember the stories of our childhood and the archetypes that are repeated through history β€” the hero, the demon, the lost child, the missing father, the battle to be won, the prize to be captured β€” and many of us at this stage in our lives confront the reality of losing someone we love to an incurable illness,” Trioli says.

“Chloe’s exquisitely written book connects with experiences we have all lived, or are living now, and is remarkably uplifting.”

Bedtime Story is illustrated by New York Times award-winning illustrator Anna Walker.

“It is a book you can come and go from, with lovely ink wash illustrations,” Trioli says.

“It shouldn’t feel like a naughty cheat, but it does, that some of the pictures are two pages wide, so you end up galloping through the book!”

Tim Rogers: The White Label Promo Preservation Society by Sal Maida, Mitchell Cohen and friends

A colourful book cover featuring a montage of lots of different music album covers.
“Drag races of passion” await inside The White Label Promo Preservation Society.(Supplied: HoZac Books)none

Musician, broadcaster and writer Tim Rogers, best known as the frontman of You Am I, has been reading a lot – perhaps too much – about how to write short fiction.

It’s all written by people he worships, so he spends a lot of his time feeling intimidated.

For relief, he turns to music writing β€” in particular, a book called The White Label Promo Preservation Society (2021).

“The book is short appreciations of albums that the various authors feel were overlooked,” explains Rogers, who appreciates that the approach is “passionate though not hagiographic”.

Rogers, who hosts a weekly program on Double J, says: “Music writing is often a drag. These pieces are drag races of passion.

“See why I’m reading about writing? What a terrible entreaty!?” he adds.

The White Label Promo Preservation Society covers LPs cut between 1959 and 1981, with essays from Sal Maida (Roxy Music/Sparks), music writer Mitchell Cohen and friends β€” among them Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith Group) and Wreckless Eric.

Each record receives a two- or three-page write-up, and while the book includes essays on ‘flop’ albums by well-known artists such as The Who (My Generation), Chuck Berry (Rockit) and Fleetwood Mac (Then Play On), there are also plenty you’ve never heard of.

Aside from offering relief from reading about writing, the book is special to Rogers because it was given to him by his oldest friend.

“His gifts and suggestions are given with the solemnity of tithes, or rites. He also has incredible cheekbones, so the biblical allusions prosper,” Rogers says.

Yumna Kassab: The Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne Rich

The front cover of The Dream of a Common Language, with the book title in gold font against a red background.
On a busy day, Yumna Kassab will choose and read a single poem from this collection.(Supplied: Penguin Random House)none

“I often carry with me a book of poetry which acts as an anchor in the turbulence of modern life,” says Yumna Kassab (The House of YoussefAustraliana).

The book she returns to the most is The Dream of a Common Language (1978) by Adrienne Rich, an influential feminist poet, essayist and activist.

“On particularly busy days, I will choose and read a single poem,” Kassab says.

Released shortly after Rich came out as gay, The Dream of a Common Language is a powerful and vulnerable collection that explores gender, sexuality, the place of women in the world, and the need to challenge the status quo.

Kassab came to the book via Cheryl Strayed, who carried it as she hiked alone for three months along 1,770 kilometres of the Pacific Crest Trail, a redemptive journey she documented in the bestselling memoir Wild(2012).

Strayed writes that poems ran through her days and nights: “Certain lines had become like incantations to me, words I’d chanted to myself through my sorrow and confusion. That book was a consolation, an old friend, and … my religion.”

Kassab has also become very familiar with the “especially vivid” poems.

“I have read them that many times they are part of my life’s underground,” she says.

“For many years, these poems have restored my faith in humanity and each small reading makes me feel that much more alive.”

Declan Fry: Nganajungu Yagu by Charmaine Papertalk Green

A book cover features a blue suitcase with the text 'Nganajungu Yagu' overlaid in red.
Nganajungu Yagu means “my mother” in the Wajarri language.(Supplied: Cordite)none

The striking cover was what first drew critic, writer and poet Declan Fry, a descendant of the Yorta Yorta, towards Nganajungu Yagu (2019) by poet Charmaine Papertalk Green – but the power of the words inside were what hooked him.

Nganajungu yagu means “my mother” in Wajarri, a language of the Yamaji people of mid-west Western Australia, and the collection revolves around Papertalk Green’s relationship with her mother.

In 1978, Papertalk Green left her family in Mullewa for school in Perth, staying in a boarding house for Aboriginal girls. She and her mother traded letters, and their correspondence provided the inspiration for Nganajungu Yagu.

“It tells the story of the poet’s coming of age – the love of family and language, and the longing Charmaine feels for her mother as she leaves Yamaji country,” Fry says.

“What makes the book so special is that it really captures this feeling of longing, of missing someone. Even at a great distance, Charmaine’s letters and poetry act as a dialogue with the girl she is, the woman she will become, and with her mother.”

Nganajungu Yagu, the winner of the 2020 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry, is written in English, Badimaya and Wajarri.

It follows a narrative, but Fry says you can easily dip in and out and always find something rewarding.

For a taste, you can read Walgajunmanha All Time, which was published in the Australian Book Review.

“That poem makes incredible use of the space on the page,” Fry says.

“Its voice is undeniable.”

Leah Jing McIntosh: The Year of Blue Water by Yanyi

A book cover featuring deep blue tissue paper with abstract holes cut in it.
Leah Jing McIntosh says the poet Yanyi “slices right through”.(Supplied: Yale University Press)none

When Leah Jing McIntosh – a critic, researcher and the founding editor of anti-racist literary project Liminal β€“ finds herself short on time, she turns to poetry.

“When I am too tired or too busy but need a book to read on the tram or in a waiting room, I usually take some poems,” she says.

“A slim book can fool you β€” poets know how to distil emotion like nobody else.”

In the midst of lockdown in 2020, she discovered Yanyi’s The Year of Blue Water (2019), which was chosen for the Yale Series of Younger Poets prize in 2018.

In the collection, Chinese American poet and critic Yanyi weaves together explorations of identity, belonging, racism, mental health and gender, from a queer and trans-masculine perspective.

“Yanyi slices right through,” says McIntosh, picking up the book and opening it to a page. It reads:

McIntosh says: “Some stolen time with a good poem feels so good, amidst the everyday.

“Yanyi does this, I think.”

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Aug.11: 2022:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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Book Reviews By Ace ♣

FEATURED AUSTRALIA: Tim Winton and 40 years of writing including Blueback & Ningaloo

This is our daily post that is shared across Twitter & Telegram and published first on here with Kindness & Love XX on peace-truth.com/

#AceNewsRoom With β€˜Kindness & Wisdom’ Aug.10, 2022 @acenewsservices

Ace News Room Cutting Floor 10/08/2022

Follow Our Breaking & Daily News Here As It Happens:

#AceBookNews – Tim Winton recalls a recent moment when he led his elderly mother to the beach, to help her into the water. His mum had been a swim teacher as a younger woman, but was now too frail to swim on her own. As Winton and his wife held his mother in the ocean, they were both very aware that this was a scene that Winton had imagined, and committed to paper, more than 20 years earlier.

A man with long sandy-coloured hair smiles in a studio shot with a black background
Australian author Tim Winton has published dozens of novels, short story collections, plays, children’s books, and non-fiction works in a career that spans four decades.(ABC Arts: Nina Otranto)none

In one of the most moving scenes of Winton’s 1997 novel Blueback, the protagonist Abel cradles his ageing mum in the water that she loves. “We come from water,” the mother whispers to her son. “We belong to it, Abel.”

“I’m standing there in the water with my wife and my mother looking at each other like, ‘Remind you of anything?’,” Winton says.

“It was odd because I think all of us were conscious of the connection; as if we were inhabiting some fictional reality.”

Forty years into his publishing career, Winton says these weird moments β€” of his writing coming to life β€” are becoming more common.

“If you’re in this caper long enough, you realise that it’s inevitable that you’re going to repeat yourself, but not in a conventional way,” Winton says.

“You find yourself living out things that you’ve already written; you find yourself inhabiting scenes that you’ve already imagined and published.”

‘The wrong side of the wrong country’

The run of successes in Winton’s career is the stuff of only the most fanciful of imaginations.

Play Audio. Duration: 54 minutes 6 seconds
Meet the 2022 Miles Franklin shortlist

At 21 he won the Vogel’s Literary Award for his first book, An Open Swimmer. Three years later he won his first Miles Franklin Literary Award for Shallows (he’s won the Miles four times to date, and shares the record for the most wins with the late Thea Astley).

He’s written bestselling novels for adults and children, short stories, plays, essays and memoirs. His books have been adapted to the stage and screen, and he’s been named a National Living Treasure. There’s even a fish species named after him – you can find the 30-centimetre ‘Hannia wintoni’ (or Winton’s Grunter) swimming in the freshwaters of the Kimberley.

It’s an unlikely story for any author, and would have been unimaginable for a young Tim, who decided at 10 years old that he was going to be a writer. Growing up in a working-class family in suburban Perth, Winton understood that he lived on “the wrong side of the wrong country in the wrong hemisphere”.

A career in the arts was a radical aspiration.

“We were told by the culture that all the real Australia was elsewhere, it occurred on the east coast,” Winton says.

“Everyone on television was from the east. Skippy the Bush Kangaroo was from the Waratah National Park, wherever that was, but it wasn’t where we were.”

Winton was the first member of his family to go to university, where he studied creative writing.

“I knew I was hard working. And I knew I knew I was determined. I thought I might be good,” Winton says.

A man with long sandy-coloured hair wearing thick-framed glasses looks directly at the camera without smiling
Winton counts Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises among his favourite books. “It really knocked my socks off when I was a young person,” he said.(ABC Arts: Nina Otranto)none

And good he was. But when the awards started coming in, Winton was more embarrassed than proud. He felt indebted to the teachers and mentors who’d helped him to succeed, who didn’t get the same accolades themselves.

“Art’s not fair,” Winton says.

“I reckon it took me ten years to not feel bad about doing well.”

Pleasure and pain

Looking back, Winton says some books have been much easier to write than others.

Blueback, a heartbreaking allegory about a boy, his mother and a blue groper, was written “inside a business week,” Winton says.

“That book just slipped out,” he says. “It was a lovely experience to write. There was almost no rewriting, it just came out formed.”

Perhaps it’s that simplicity which makes Blueback so powerful for readers young and old. Winton says he gets more fan mail about that book than anything else he’s written. (A screen adaptation starring Mia Wasikowska and Eric Bana is slated to hit cinemas in January).

An underwater shot of a person wearing scuba gear touching an enormous fish
The cinematic adaptation of Blueback tells the story of Abby, a young girl who befriends a wild groper while diving in the ocean.(Supplied: Roadshow)none

Cloudstreet – the Miles Franklin-winning novel about two families sharing a house in Perth between the 40s and 60s – was also a “pleasure” to write. The book was inspired by stories Winton’s grandparents used to tell about life in Perth – a place that Winton could see was disappearing.

“Perth was just being bulldozed,” Winton says, referring to the many old buildings that were demolished in the 60s and 80s.

“The Perth that my grandparents knew, and that my parents knew, was a foreign place to me, and my children never saw it. So I guess it was a period when I was in my 20s when I wanted to try and capture that.”

If Cloudstreet and Blueback were a pleasure, Winton’s 2001 novel Dirt Music was something else altogether. Winton spent so many years trying to find a way to finish the story, that some of his children had never seen him working on a different book.

Even when the day came to submit the final manuscript, Winton wasn’t convinced he’d nailed it.

“My wife left for work at eight o’clock in the morning, and I was wrapping it up to send it to my publisher,” Winton says.

“And she came home at four o’clock and I was still there unwrapping it, wrapping it. And I just knew something wasn’t right.”

That night, he got up, and started the book again, from scratch. For 55 days and nights he rewrote Dirt Music, “while my wife looked on, like I was a ticking bomb”, he says.

Winton says he learned a valuable lesson from this “dark, dark time”.

“It’s only a frickin’ book,” he says.

“And I don’t think it’s worth going mad over, or tormenting your family.”

That “frickin’ book” won him his third Miles Franklin, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

Tim Winton, 2022
A committed conservationist, Winton donated his $25,000 prize money from the Western Australian Premier’s Award to the Save Ningaloo Reef Campaign in 2002. (Vee at Blue Media Exmouth)none

Writing and the environment

Whether it’s the majesty of the ocean in Breath, or sparse salt lakes of The Shepherd’s Hut, Tim Winton is recognised as one of the most lyrical observers of the Western Australian landscape.

His love for the natural world is echoed in his conservation work.

Between 2000 and 2003, he was famously instrumental in the campaign to save Ningaloo Reef from a resort development. It was another one of those strange life-imitating-art moments: in Blueback, published in 1997, Abel and his mum successfully protect their patch of coast from developers.

Winton’s passion for Ningaloo has only grown in the years since the campaign. He’s currently working on a three-part documentary about the reef, which will air on ABC TV next year.

“This is one of the world’s last great wild places,” Winton says.

“And if we lose these places, we’ve lost everything.”

Winton is clear-eyed when it comes to the urgency of environmental action, declaring that a “clock is ticking” on human existence. Yet he still believes there is a place – and indeed, a very important one β€” for art and writing.

“I’m in the business of useless beauty,” he says. “And I’m happy with that. “

“I don’t think art needs an excuse to exist. We need beauty in our lives, so we don’t go mad.”

Tim Winton is appearing as part of ABC RN’s Big Weekend of Books. Listen back to his conversation with The Book Show’s Claire Nichols.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Aug.10: 2022:

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#AceNewsRoom With β€˜Kindness & Wisdom’ July.19, 2022 @acenewsservices

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Limited Edition Font

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#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: July.19: 2022: 

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