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That Eye, the Sky

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  1,722 ratings  ·  99 reviews
In this modern Australian classic, award-winning author Tim Winton tells the story of young Ort Flack and his struggle to come to grips with the forces pulling his family apart. An extraordinary snapshot of boyhood, That Eye, the Sky is also a powerful exploration of the nature of hope and faith.

Ort doesn't have a bad life. He mucks around with his best pal, Fat Cherry; h

Paperback, 208 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by Pan MacMillan (first published January 1st 1987)
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Average rating 3.53  · 
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 ·  1,722 ratings  ·  99 reviews

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Jan 16, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I thought I'd give some Australian literature a try...

I enjoyed the early parts of the novel. Winton manages to evoke my childhood - I would have been about 5 years younger than the protagonist when the book was released, and living in a similar semi-rural, semi-suburban setting, though adjacent to a different city, and in less dire circumstances. He really captures the eternal boredom and freedom of long summer days spent "mucking around", and getting into trouble. At times the dialect felt aut
James Barker
I read this short novel in a night and enjoyed it. What really struck me was an echo of Flannery O'Connor's majestic story 'The Life You Save May Be Your Own' maybe due to the arrival of the mysterious vagrant, the invocations to God and aspects of the ending. There is no doubt Winton is a good writer. His narrator, a 12 year old boy, is brought to life with a realistic voice and is a charming, believable character because of this success. Let's face it, writers don't always do this well. Trying ...more
Carinya Kappler
Mar 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I imagine that this is life viewed through the eyes of a 10-12year old boy. He is caught between the innocence of childhood and the harsh reality of assuming the full responsibility of "man of the house". He loves unconditionally, hopes optimistically for better times and stands fast waiting for his father to come home healed, to recommence his fatherly duties where he left off.
I loved Tim Winton's unashamed honest efforts to bestow functionality on a tragic family situation. His main character
Nancy Oakes
Feb 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would recommend that eye, the sky to fiction readers, but a lot of people will probably go away from it unsatisfied. There is a LOT to this story for which the author leaves no explanation and this may frustrate some people. Me, I love quirky writing and I know that I'll be mulling this book over in my head for a while now that I've finished it. For anyone who hasn't read a Tim Winton novel, I wouldn't suggest you start with this one -- try The Riders or Dirt Music (I haven't read anything els ...more
Feb 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“That Eye, the Sky” is one of Winton’s earlier novels, written in 1986—the third of his currently 9 novels for adults and published before “Cloudstreet”. It has also been made into a movie.

The narrator is a 12 year old boy (Morton Flack, Ort for short) on the verge of adolescence who sees and understands the world and his family through maturing eyes. Much that surrounds Ort is either broken or damaged—as are most of Winton’s characters in his other novels. But the supernatural also inhabits Ort
Aimee Steadman
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the first Tim Winton novel I’ve read. For some reason, my high school curriculum had different ideas for me than ‘Cloudstreet’. It was the first unread book I grabbed off my bookshelf and what convinced to me read on was the dedication – ‘Equanimity’ by Les A. Murray and it reads:

“From the otherworld of action and media, this
interleaved continuing plane is hard to focus;
we are looking into the light –
it makes some smile, some grimace.”

With the current political landscape and events in m
Ilyhana Kennedy
Dec 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
"That Eye, The Sky" is something of a cameo piece of Winton, in comparison with what came later, a prediction of what is to come, though the pace and humour are yet under tight rein and feel more like restraint and pathos.
The insight into a child's experience is there, along with the acceptance of 'paranormal' phenomena as being part of everyday life, normal rather than paranormal, although strange.
The introduction of the character Henry Warburton injects an undertone of threat that is maintaine
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
My first Winton fiction. I loved this quick read. I am still trying to digest the ending. Will review properly later
Aug 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
I really enjoyed many aspects of this book, but I am still trying to wrap my head around what I've read. The way Winton explains Ort's journey into adolescents is fantastic. I felt alot of nostalgia when reading about Ort's attempt at making sense of the world around him. The characters were engaging, and I was constantly wanting to know more about them.
However, I did not expect this book to become so heavily based around religion and God. I found this a bit jarring, and I am still unsure how t
May 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Tim Winton never disappoints.
Oct 19, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I don't really know what I think about this one. It wasn't entirely voluntarily that I started reading this one and in the beginning I thought it was extremely boring. The information on the back seemed a little interesting, but it took about half the book to get there. At some point it was quite ok and I wanted to continue reading, but the closer I got to the end the more I realised that nothing would happen and I only kept reading it because it was so short. The ending doesn't make sense ...more
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I watched Cloustreet and really enjoyed it! The several layers to the characters and the development of each person too. So I thought I would try a book by the author, well it dragged for me. I had to work at picking the book up and reading it, even though I knew no body was going to make a major breakthrough in charachter development I just couldn't endure reading through the boring lives of nothingness. In dreary dry Australia down and under, i got as depressed as them, rather than appreciate ...more
Jul 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
I have just finished reading this and feel that I might have to re-read it at some point, purely because I have come away wondering about the sanity of both Ort & his mother; were they not in fact a little bit on the slow side, I wonder.
Forget all the religion in this book for a moment, even though it seems to be a prolific factor to the story, does anyone else think that perhaps there is more to my theory than first thought?
I love the Aussie language - I understand it completely; it's a real bo
Sep 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
A hippie family fails to find paradise in the Australian outskirts. Far from it. But they have each other -- to a point. Enter tragedy, then a false prophet/angel/preacher. Young Ort, our narrator, sees many things, as he constantly looks thru holes and cracks and into things he might better not. The false prophet gets what he wants, the girl and the car, leaving only his Bible. Do Ort, him mum and dad get God? Not sure. Winton weaves multiple sight, eye and vision images seamlessly throughout t ...more
Feb 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was my favourite Tim Winton book, even though it never really seemed to win the popularity of some of his other titles. It's told from the perspective of a little boy, and it melted my heart. It ended with a miracle - always a risky way to finish a novel, but it really worked. Another tear jerker. ...more
Oct 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Hmmm... I wasn't sure what this book was on about. It started out ok, then I got tired of hearing about all the religious dogma (even if it was put in other words), then it kind of showed the hypocrisy of of it all, and ended with well, I won't say, as I don't want to add a spoiler. It was depressing verging on uplifting verging on well, that's just life. So, there you have it. ...more
I have no words to tell you how awful this book is. Had to read it in high school. Put me off Tim Winton for life. I just wanted to slap every character really hard and then shred the book. It has been 15 years since high school and I still hate it this much.
David Mark
Nov 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
Tim Winton has an incredible talent for making the beautiful ugly and the mundane grotesque. This book is no exception; any redeeming qualities in the characters or plot are mired beyond repair by the end. When I finished the last chapter, I felt sick and disgusted.
Feb 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: for-school, reviewed
I probably would have given this book 3 stars if it weren't for that horrible ending ...more
Anthony Young
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written novel by Winton which deals with powerful issues of identity, belief and cultural values.
Jan 30, 2021 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brooke Hutchinson
Aug 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-my-shelf
This was my first experience of a Tim Winton's writing and I wasn't disappointed. I'm aware that this isn't one of his more successful books (my Aunty has already thrown 'Cloudstreet' and 'Dirt Music' my way) but it gave me a good idea of how he writes, the types of characters and themes he explores, and the beautiful, unique way he tells a story.

Ort's perspective offers a great, humorous lens to watch this story unravel through. He's certainly his own person and the way he interacts with himsel
Jun 16, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
That Eye, The Sky is a pretty good Australian book about a kid who is dealing with change, as his father returns home after an accident and his family cracks under the strain. It uses a lot of native slang and I’m not sure it would translate well to other parts of the world. Still I appreciated the terminology and the metaphors, as they both gave a few laughs. This is the first book I’ve read by Tim Winton.

Ort is captured well. It’s clear his mind is all over the shop, and he gets confused and s
Ellen McMahon
Tim Winton's writing is eternally divine. However, sadly, I think Boy Swallows Universe and The Goldfinch have so skillfully mastered the 'young boy undergoes a significant personal tragedy and is forced to come of age abruptly' genre so that nothing else will ever compare. I would put this one more on par with I Am the Messenger or even Jasper Jones. ...more
kimm ☾
i read this book for school and didn't think i'd quite enjoy it but i actually did! 'that eye, the sky' is set in rural australia and details a young boy ort's journey after his father gets into an accident. the reader follows him through his process of growing up, maturing + learning more about the world around him. despite it being a quite interesting read, i've never been a fan of books set in rural settings with alot of aussie slang so i found myself getting lost at some bits.
i didn't reali
Sam Schroder
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Coming to this novel after all three memoirs, and all three Lockie Leonard books, I can’t help feeling like I’ve read it before, even though I haven’t. It is typical Winton and unusual Winton. Early Winton wrote more conventionally, and yet, somehow, just the same. Ort’s Dad has been in a car accident and is barely alive. His Grandma is all ‘inside herself’. His sister hates them all. His mother is lost and sad. And then the strange man from under the bridge comes to help and that changes everyt ...more
Jan 19, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book was just really boring. There was not much plot and none of the characters were enough to drive the story along. I know Winton is known for making the mundane and boring into a good book but this completely missed the mark. I was bored by 20 pages in and only finished it because it was so short. On top of the boring plot, the characters were devoid of emotion and Winton did little to make me care about their lives. I didn’t really like the ending but it was the most interesting part of ...more
Kerran Olson
I haven't read a lot of Winton's earlier work, so I picked this up in a second hand book store and read it in a day. Ort and his family are pretty disfunctional and very bogan aussie, like a lot of Winton's characters, and they're so raw and believable. The increasing focus on God and spirituality put me off a little bit, and a lot was left unanswered- to be expected in such a spiritual book- but overall I enjoyed this short read. ...more
Steve Castley
Apr 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I rad it and was never quite sure where it was going. I've enjoyed some of Winton's books, but this one was not one of his better ones. As I always I love his detailed description of the bush and beach and ocean, but the plot seemed quite thin. If you love Tim Winton's writing, you will probably enjoy this book. ...more
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
Tim Winton always manages to convey a sense of Australia that resonates with me - his description of the natural landscape in particular. I needed more plot and characterisation for this short book to work for me though. I was bored - which, for a 150 page story - isn’t great. I’d recommend picking up ‘Dirt Music’ instead, if you’re after a Winton fix. I’ll keep reading through his work though.
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Tim Winton was born in Perth, Western Australia, but moved at a young age to the small country town of Albany.

While a student at Curtin University of Technology, Winton wrote his first novel, An Open Swimmer. It went on to win The Australian/Vogel Literary Award in 1981, and launched his writing career. In fact, he wrote "the best part of three books while at university". His second book, Shallows

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