The Shepherd's Hut by Tim Winton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I made my summer reading recommendations, I pointed out that there seems to be a "new western" genre emerging. At the time, it was female authors taking on the genre in new and interesting ways. But I think this book also merits inclusion in the category, despite its theme of toxic masculinity (words I've seen in almost every review I've read about it and every interview with the author, so not my box.)
Last year, I read this author's "landscape memoir" about Western Australia, Island Home. Nobody ever writes about this area of Australia! It is full of unique creatures, flora and fauna, and the interesting types of people who would inhabit such a place. (Coincidentally I loved that book so much that I 1)Included it on my Best Reads of 2017 list, 2) Gave my copy to my in-laws who were heading to Australia, and then felt sad and bought another copy for my self, and 3) Made Tim Winton an author I wanted to read more of in 2018.
All to say that this is a marvelous setting for a western. Jaxie Clackton is on the run after a very violent event in his home, after years of living in an abusive situation and negative environment. He ends up finding a shepherd's hut near the sand flats, after a hard journey with little water and only 'roos for food. It's a fairly quick read but all in the first-person, and in a very distinct dialect. The audiobook has a female narrator but you may listen to an excerpt to get a sense of the speech pattern and voice of Jaxie. I read the eBook but think the audio would be the way to go! For me, the character study is strong, but the landscape and actual voice really make it a stellar read.
Thanks to the publisher for providing access to the title through NetGalley. It released in the United States on 19 June, 2018. I'll discuss it on Episode 127 of the Reading Envy Podcast, which will publish 28 August, 2018.
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