'On childhood holidays to the beach the sun and surf kept Tim Winton outside in the mornings, in the water; the wind would drive him indoors in the afternoons, to books and reading. This ebb and flow of the day became a way of life.
'In this beautifully delicate memoir, Tim Winton writes about his obsession with what happens where the water meets the shore – about diving, dunes, beachcombing – and the sense of being on the precarious, wondrous edge of things that haunts his novels.' (Publication summary)
'In Dirt Music, remembering the time before a car crash took the lives of his brother Darkie, Darkie's wife Sal, and their two children, Bird and Bullet, Luther Fox recalls Bird's question : 'Lu, how come water lets you through it?' Bird is the one who saw God, and 'if anyone saw God it would likely be her. Bird's the nearest thing to an angelic being.' Bird's question suggests the function of water in Winton's novels. Water is everywhere in his writing, as people sail on it, dive into it, live on the edge of it. Clearly the sea and the river are vital aspects of the writer's own experience. But water is more than an omnipresent feature of his writing and his life, the oceanscape of his stories. It is something that 'lets you through'. It lets you through because it is the passage to a different state of being, sometimes in dream, sometimes in physical extremity, but always offers itself as the medium of transformation. When it lets you through - whether to escape to a different life, as a rite of passage to adulthood, to see the world in a new way or to discover the holiness of the earth or the wonder of the world, whether it is the baptismal water of redemption to an opening to a world of silence - and it is all these things- you become different.' (Author's introduction 16)
'What do the artistic works of acclaimed author Tim Winton and eminent Ngarinyin lawman Bungal (David) Mowaljarlai have in common?
'According to Hannah Rachel Bell they both reflect sacred relationship with the natural world, the biological imperative of a male rite of passage, an emergent urban tribalism, and the fundamental role of story in the transmission of cultural knowledge. In Bell's four decade friendship with Mowaljarlai, she had to confront the cultural assumptions that sculpted her way of seeing. The journey was life-changing.
'When she returned to teaching in 2001 Tim Winton's novels featured in the curriculum. She recognised an eerie familiarity and thought Winton must have been influenced by traditional elders to express such an 'indigenous' perspective. She wrote to him. This resulted in 4 years of correspondence and an excavation of converging world views - exposed through personal memoir, letters, paintings and conversations and culminating in Storymen.' (From the publisher's website.)