Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Blueback by Tim Winton

My introduction to Winton's novel Blueback came via a production of the performed with the same name by Tasmania's well-known Terrapin Puppet Theatre which I had the pleasure of seeing when teaching at Blackmans Bay Primary in 1999.

It was also performed last year by the Spare Parts Theatre in Fremantle. I have since read the book and was not disappointed. It is all about a boy called Abel Jackson who lives with his mother in Longboat Bay. Life is simple and they live off the money made from diving for abalone. Abel loves his life and it becomes even better when he meets and befriends a grand old groper fish which he calls Blueback. The Abel has to go away to school and after Mad Macka, another friend of Blueback’s, dies, an obnoxious fisherman named Costello, a “reef stripper”, takes over and begins exploiting the resources of the bay. Abel and Dora endeavour to put a stop to this but things become increasingly difficult for them. This is a story about love, loss, growing up, and above all, conservation of an idyllic environment. Each chapter is prefaced by an ink drawing by artist Karen Louise. I really recommend this book which reflects the beauty of the bays in Western Australia where Winton grew up and lives to this day. A capable reader could devour it in couple of days.

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