In Tim Winton’s fiction, chaos waits in the wings and ordinary people are ambushed by events and emotions beyond their control.
Winton’s own life has also been shaped by havoc. The extraordinarily powerful true stories that make up The Boy Behind the Curtain take us behind the scenes, revealing the accidents, both serendipitous and traumatic, that have influenced his view of life and fuelled his distinctive artistic vision.
They show the unexpected links between car crashes and religious faith, between surfing and writing, and how going to the wrong movie at the age of eight opened him up to a life of the imagination. And in writing about class, fundamentalism, asylum seekers, guns and the natural world, he presents not only the concerns that have made him the much-loved writer he is, but some of what unites the life and the work.
By turns impassioned, funny, joyous, astonishing, this is Winton’s most personal book to date, an insight into the man who’s held us enthralled for three decades and helped us reshape our view of ourselves. Behind it all, from risk-taking youth to surprise-averse middle age, has been the crazy punt of staking everything on becoming a writer.
‘Both brutally honest and entertaining, The Boy Behind the Curtain is a powerful excavation of those charged moments that make up a life – joyous, traumatic and transformational. All the markers of Winton’s fiction are here: the dark realism, the unflinching eye, the humour and the connection with place . . . An inspirational read.’ readings.com.au
‘A dazzling book, full of wisdom and wonder . . . with a staggering, effortless sense of drama wherever you pick it up . . . No one is better than Tim Winton at giving dramatic substance to the interface between art and life . . . This is a rich and brilliant book.’ Peter Craven, Australian Book Review
‘The Boy Behind the Curtain roots you to the spot, forces you to ask questions – about yourself, about the way we live. Sinewy and lyrical by turns, Winton’s is an authentic Australian voice to trumpet to a world audience.’ Morag Fraser, Australian Book Review
‘He makes complex art seem simple . . . A body of nonfiction work that is (unsurprisingly) beautiful and brilliant and provocative, and (surprisingly) revealing . . . It is this sight of the sacred in the ordinary that probably accounts for some part of why Winton's writing recedes from his imitators' reach.’ Malcolm Knox, Sydney Morning Herald
‘That Winton’s nonfiction is as lyrical as his fiction goes without saying.’ The Guardian (Australia)
‘A contemplative book . . . You also reach its end with a particular sense of how this particular man experiences life – metaphorically, philosophically. How he carries things; how he feels them . . . He acknowledges wonder. He acknowledges unknowns. He pays attention . . . A rich book.’ Weekend Australian
‘Tim Winton’s 28th book proves the much-loved Australian writer just gets better with age.’ Woman’s Day