Book Review: Dirt Music

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This extract from Tim Winton’s Dirt Music is set after Luther Fox has run away up north to Coronation Gulf. He has been isolated for some time but has not yet begun to sort out his emotions or learnt how to deal with the loss of his family. During the extract, the reader sees Lu’s frustration at having forgotten to bring something to read with him to his exile, and then his new playful relationship with sharks that he happens across. The atmosphere in this extract changes with the structure. It starts out frustrated and regretful, while Lu berates himself for having not brought a single book with him to Coronation Gulf. This atmosphere is achieved through the use of diction and sentence structure. The first two sentences are short and simple, and give the first part of the extract a frustrated, slightly angry feeling. I believe Winton has done this purposefully to allow the reader to better understand Lu and what he is feeling. The use of diction also contributes heavily to the atmosphere, especially with words such as “wistfully” chosen deliberately to add to the ambiance in the first section of this extract. The second section is purely factual and emotionless at first glance. Lu is simply giving a blow-by-blow account of his first sight of the sharks, and it appears at first to be only descriptive. However the choice of words when describing the sharks subtly paints them as graceful and elegant creatures, and gives the paragraph a natural, almost calm feeling. This is found in descriptive words such as “glides” “fluid” “a kind of dance” “sleek” etc. except for the two larger sharks, which are described as “skittish”. I believe this has been done not to personify or humanise the sharks per se, but to create the image that they are more than just dumb animals, and more than merciless killing machines, as well as create an atmosphere less charged than what it would normally be when a character encounters wild sharks. There is a lot of character development in...
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