‘Island Home: a Landscape Memoir’ by Tim Winton has recently been published. It is not as much his own story, but as the title suggests, it is a story of landscape – the Australian landscape, and in particular, the south-west coast. The book is remarkable for its poetic descriptions that evoke the smells and sounds of Australia so sharply. Things are described at once delicately and yet forcefully. Yet Tim Winton champions the vernacular in his writing, and does not shy away from it – his writing is such a wonderful mix of that familiar voice, and yet full of the beauty of his unique way of describing things.
There are snippets of events in Tim Winton’s life which are recounted in this book, but it is the natural landscape that is the centre of this book, and how it has profoundly affected him and his writing. The cover of the book shows an aerial view of a beautiful sandy beach on a sunny day, with a couple of insignificant specks which look like two people and a dog, and it seems to demonstrate our insignificance in the face of the enormity of this island continent which is a theme that recurs through the book.
This is a moving, respectful and loving tribute to this country, past and present, with a look to the future. It is a warning, because so much has been done that has damaged the land, but one finishes the book with a sense of hope. It speaks so much of what is familiar, particularly if you are of a similar vintage to Tim Winton!
You will be left in no doubt about what has shaped Tim Winton, and made him one of our foremost writers, but you will also read it and renew your appreciation for the natural history of the amazing country we live in. Definitely recommended.