Tim Winton is an outstanding writer, whose distinctive originality has never been more evident than in his newest novel, Eyrie. He has always been interested in characters whose lives are being lived on the edge. In Breath, his most recent, and shortest, novel, we saw a distilled and concentrated exploration of physical courage, foolhardiness and danger of surfers’ lives lived on the edge, where the contrast between the ordinary and extraordinary in life couldn’t be sharper. Eyrie is a much longer, yet sharply focused new work, as finely calibrated and nuanced as anything Winton has done, yet more confronting and unrelenting than any of his previous work. Tom Keely’s life is being lived very much on the edge, indeed the brink, of oblivion. A disastrous miscalculation in his professional life has left him without a job, reputation, wife, money and, seemingly, hope. Holed up in a public housing high-rise in Fremantle, he’s nevertheless drawn into the lives of his neighbours, a woman from his childhood and her sad, almost other-worldly grandson. What follows is a rich and engrossing story, as intense and exciting as anything Winton has yet written. It’s rich in black humour while at the same time has elements of a crime thriller. This is a book that will challenge, and possibly divide, readers, with its uncomfortably tough-minded questions about coping and engaging in a flawed world, but in the end this is Winton at his most intense and haunting best. Unmissable.
David Gaunt is the co-owner of Gleebooks. This review first appeared on the Books+Publishing website in September 2013. View more pre-publication reviews here.