The book that got stuck in my head
by Sam Sperling
I am what most of my friends call a ‘drainer’. This is mainly due to my problem with repetition. For example, if I like a song I have to listen to it continuously. It stays on repeat, no matter how much everyone else complains, until I can’t hear it ever again.
I do this with people too. I’ll think they’re awesome for ages, never questioning their behaviour until, BAM! I can’t stand them.
Anyway, I’d never really had this problem with books. It’s hard to get a book stuck in your head.
Sure, I’d re-read some until I could quote back large sections, but they didn’t have the repetitive beat of a song. It was easy to lose a book in all of the other things that consume your mind on any given day.
This was until I encountered Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet.
Similar to any great Biggie Smalls rap or Snoop Dogg collaboration (yes, I know my taste in music is exquisite) Winton’s words were infused in my thoughts.
When my life’s soundtrack would usually include a deep background lyric like, ‘Bitches in the back lookin’ righteous, in a tight dress’ (Yes, you think I’m an idiot) instead the words, ‘And you can’t help but worry for them, love them, want for them – those who go on down the close, foetid galleries of time and space without you’ would pulsate through my mind.
Cloudstreet may have a talking pig, a woman as stubborn as my own mother and a fascinating exploration of Australian life— but that’s not what gets stuck in my head—it is the rhythm.
I wouldn’t really describe it as poetry, but there’s something in the way the words move that is like water. In a literary essay I’d give it a wanky analogy: ‘The rhythm of the narrative flows like a river, never changing current or direction’.
Sometimes I even think it’s to do with the dialogue and how Winton doesn’t bother with the rules of writing. His words space themselves across the pages according to how they are supposed to sound:
“The pig snuffles, lets off a few syllables: aka sembon itwa. It’s tongues, that’s what it is. A blasted Pentecostal pig.
And you understand him?
Yep. I likes him.”
Even after I’ve finished reading the book, I still find myself going back and checking pieces of dialogue. They have a tendency to suffocate my brain activity until I can’t resist them.
I leave this post with some of T-Winsta’s lovely Cloudstreet in the hope that you will enjoy his words as much as I have:
“A long way off, in a cloud of steam like the ante rooms of Hell itself a small man falls naked to the sauna floor feeling his heart stutter. So many women have loved him and suffered him, but none so much as his mother. Sometimes he has dreams about her, the kind he doesn’t like to think of. She’s just like the girls he chats up and backs up. She’s just…steam steam steam steam steam steam!”