Observer review: The Turning by Tim Winton

Tim Winton makes grief palpable in his collection of short stories, The Turning, says Lindsay Pfeffer

The Turning
by Tim Winton
PIcador £16.99, pp200

Almost 20 years since his last short-story collection, Tim Winton presents another captivating study of sorrow and unfulfilled desire. The author of the acclaimed Cloudstreet and Dirt Music returns to familiar territory by presenting inhabitants of small-town, coastal western Australia who have suffered damages as physical as a severed finger or as emotional as a painfully suppressed past.

Yet, as the title implies, these embittered individuals find themselves in some sort of defining moment that may heal old scars or open new wounds to their own strange satisfaction.

Sudden twists of perspective and changes of heart can alter the lives that have long been defined by affliction in these 17 short stories that intertwine to form a whole. Winton follows characters who have distinct pasts, presents and seemingly hopeless futures, yet connect to one another in tender and sometimes unsettling and mystifying ways.

The beauty of Winton's work lies not in the hope to which some characters awaken, but in his skill at making grief palpable to readers who may be unscathed by the agonies that his characters suffer.

His stories artfully clarify life's abrupt turns, but it is his prose that makes this work exceptional with its liveliness and flow. Time has a way of eroding past regrets and saving souls in the most harrowing ways in this compilation of people at the mercy of the unfortunate and mysterious events of their lives.

Lindsay Pfeffer

The GuardianTramp

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