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The Boy Behind the Curtain

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  924 ratings  ·  126 reviews
The remarkable true stories in The Boy Behind the Curtain reveal an intimate and rare view of Tim Winton’s imagination at work and play. A chronicler of sudden turnings, brutal revelations and tender sideswipes, Tim Winton has always been in the business of trouble. In his novels chaos waits in the wings and ordinary people are ambushed by events and emotions beyond their ...more
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Published December 6th 2016 by Bolinda Audio (first published October 3rd 2016)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Australia and good writing
“I credit surfing with getting me through adolescence. When I was lonely, confused and angry, the ocean was always there, a vast salty poultice sucking the poison from my system.”

From his earliest memories with his working class family in rural Western Australia to his international success as an author, Tim Winton shares his musings on childhood (as “the boy behind the curtain” lining up the neighbours with a rifle!*), surfing and snorkling (testing himself to extremes by holding his breath w
As I've professed before, Tim Winton is my favourite Australian author.

I had the good fortune to get The Boy Behind the Curtain (and six others) signed by him at the launch of this book, in October 2016 (there's a photo with Winton himself in my profile - don't mind the star struck, giddy, tired me). As I'm busy with other reading commitments, I've listened to the audio of this book, which was read by Winton himself.

I was made to believe that this was a memoir, but it's more of a collection of e
Steve lovell
Nov 17, 2016 rated it really liked it

He's a living national treasure. In his fiction Tim Winton takes the pulse of what has and does make us tick as Australians, particularly those of us who grew up on our nation's great littoral and away from the mega-cities. He connects us to the sea – and to where the bush or desert meets the sea. His books, like the television series such as the iconic 'SeaChange' and these days '800 Words', despite the latter being set in NZ, help nurture the urge to make our own lives more elemental, less dig
Marie McLean
Nov 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Tim Winton is an Australian literary legend. His writing career (which has produced twenty-eight books, as well as numerous essays and short stories) began with winning the Australian Vogel Award in 1981 for his first published book, An Open Swimmer. In 1984, his second novel, Shallows, won the Miles Franklin Award. In fact, he has won the Miles Franklin Award (arguably Australia’s most prestigious literature prize) a record four times. He has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize twice and amon ...more
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a great book if you are like many Australians and consider Tim Winton to be one of our greatest authors ever. This book is in part autobiography - a reminisce and meander through Tim’s life as told by him - and part commentary and opinion piece on matters close to Wintons heart. Of course the language used is mesmerizing and compact - he tells us so much in few words. You can definately understand his novels more - their setting, their symbolism - after reading this account of his youth. ...more
Sean Kennedy
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What is being touted as an 'autobiography' by publishers is really just a collection of autobiographical essays that have been collected in one volume, but that doesn't mean it isn't any good. Winton is always at his best when he writes about water - whether it be the rivers in Cloudstreet or the ocean in Shallows and Breath - and the writing in his stories about surfing, water conservation, sharks and whales are breathtakingly beautiful and totally immersive.
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have always liked Tim Winton as a writer. Now I can say that I like him as a person as well. This memoir in short essay-like pieces read by the author is a real pleasure to listen to.
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Just lovely. I would recommend for Tim Winton fans for sure. Loved his thoughts on growing up working class, being a God botherer and his thoughts about hospitals. Very relatable and engaging.
Annette Chidzey
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This Winton's expose captured me from the outset and reminded me of his great strength as a master story-teller. In part, this book was so compelling in its early sections because it resonated so strongly with my own childhood and adolescent experiences that I felt I was reading about what happened to me growing up rather than what happened to Winton.
I recalled the influence of Sunday School and church in shaping my sense of self and I laughed at loud when I read about Betsy the Hillman Minx sed
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a pleasant surprise. Can't say I liked all of the short stories, but many were real gems. I especially enjoyed reading Remembering Elizabeth Jolley and Lighting Out. A bit of an insight to the life of Tim Winton. Maybe it helps to live in Western Australia to give the stories more meaning. Well worth reading.
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have loved every minute of reading this book with my ears, especially as it was read to me by Mr Winton himself. There was a sense of the familiar in nearly every story and I joyfully found the origins of many of his books. Yes I admit it, I am a Tim Winton Tragic, but who can blame me. If you love words strung together in ways that sing to you you will love Mr Wintons work
Summary of each story.....
1. The boy behind the curtain. Incredible insight into the teenage years and how a life can be a
Sep 13, 2018 rated it liked it
It’s been a while since I last picked up a Tim Winton: about 7 years or so. I found this collection of essays and shorter pieces told me a lot about what living in Australia is actually like, and not just because of the words you are expected to pick up along the way. (Wandoo, banksia, potoroos, bilbies, boodie.) By the time I finished, I had stopped automatically thinking of the rainy place in Scotland whenever the name Perth is mentioned.

Perhaps the best piece is about his parents, holy rolle
Brona's Books
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes Tim Winton blows me out of the water with his writing. Other times I'm left scratching my head in bewilderment and bewutherment (thanks Bilbo).

However The Boy Behind the Curtain definitely falls into the OMG I love this man and his writing to bits camp.

I savoured each and every essay in this book. Most were deeply personal and memoir-ish in style, while others were more factual as Winton described his passion for environmental issues and gave us some insights into the writing process.

May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So to me at least, this book was kind of boring. But it’s also written beautifully and touches on some fascinating stories from Winton’s past. I think The Boy Behind the Curtain taught me how people feel pain and loss, even when someone does end up surviving and recovering. It also makes me want to read fancy books and support Australian authors and take part in conservation efforts and think about things I never would have. I like books that give me more scope (and also more interesting vocabul ...more
Cheyenne Blue
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
A collection of essays and memoir pieces from a beloved Aussie Great. It doesn't have the punch and flow of his fiction, but this collection is still a solid read. Favourites were the stories of the sea, whether about sharks, surfing, fishing, or just musing about the ocean. The one about Ireland was interesting, but, unexpectedly, I felt he missed the spirit of the place. Maybe this place called home is what fuels him best.

I admit to skipping a couple--the one on Ningaloo Reef and Elizabeth Jol
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ahh Tim Winton never lets me down.

More a series of essays than a true memoir, The Boy Behind the Curtain is chock full of Tim's gorgeous prose, his grasp of language as sharp and beautiful as ever. Collecting his thoughts on subjects such as conservation, learning to write, faith and church, family, class divides, the sea, refugees and much much more, he lays them out at our feet for us to dip our toe in and enjoy the cool wash of his gorgeous language, while encouraging us to marvel at the trea
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I always love reading Tim Winton. It reminds me so much of my own life and childhood (maybe because he’s the only author from Perth and Albany that I’ve read). Can’t help but agree that this has been forced out by a publisher for a quick buck which takes away from the pleasure of reading it a bit.
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written anecdotes, memories and essays from one of our most consistent writers. A wise and thoughtful eco-warrior.....
Read for work
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Winton took aim from the start, and throughout. So, whatever his motive for writing this book, he has succeeded! It may not be an enjoyable read but it intrigues if you are of the right mind to catch it. I was. It has spirit and faith, power and prolific points to ponder.

I read. I recalled. I reacted. I debated with my bookclub bunch and we analysed further. I read sections again, such was the power of this book! Winton is perceptive, purposeful, passionate, playful and pragmatic in prose. Prais
Ben Scobie
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Classic Winton. Nothing but a voice of Australia. A collection of short stories with some great ones. Twice on Sundays was a bit laborious, but interesting nonetheless. A stellar example of Winton that I'd be happy to teach Stage 6.
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this collection of writings by one of my favourite authors, fellow sandgroper and all-round admirable human being. Learning a bit more about Tim, his childhood and his views on current issues was a real treat.
Athene Alleck
Aug 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Some great pieces with different styles, topics and themes. Did feel it was a bit self indulgent - I'm a living legend now so I can release a collection of scraps & sell it for $50. But in a way then I think ... good on him! ...more
Jacqui T
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2017
Poor editing at end of book.
May 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Generally I like books by Tim Winton. I mean I like reading them.
On one hand their atmosphere, characters, action are rather alien to me. It may explain the fact, that soon after reading I forget what the story was about. On the other hand , reading them I got the feeling of authenticity and honesty of the author and it lasts even after forgetting what was the book about.
The Boy Behind the Curtain is a collection of some 20 pieces of Tim Winton writing. I understand that most of them have been
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I certainly rate this book as 5 stars, not one. So glad to have another of Tim's work to read. Want to pass this on to friends, and family to read and enjoy, as well as shout out the messages about conservation, welcoming refugees, and using the c word to begin with. I relate to his own experience in travelling in the Hillman as a kid, and enjoyed finding out about Elizabeth Jolley as she was a favourite of mine. It's interesting to consider the tyranny of distance experienced by the West, parti ...more
Barbara Rohde
Mar 21, 2017 rated it liked it
A collection of Winton's writings ranging from his family background through to polemics on conservation and class. Winton's writing shines best when showing us his background through the eyes of his family but his passion for conservation and politics is less convincing. He uses stats to back up his claims but does not reference them which I found annoying given today's proclivity for less than authentic 'facts' so I would like to see that he has used authoritative sources. Obviously a 'contrac ...more
Jake Goretzki
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Surely the most likeable man in modern letters. A breeze, all told. Some good anecdotes, a bit of urgent political polemic and quite enlightening on the writing process.

I'd never heard of Elizabeth Jolley. Or Leap Castle. Neither did I didn't realise Winton was a little bit God squad (not exactly squad) - but he carries it well. I like the idea of being in a place where all the stories have been told (Ireland, in his example) and needing to find your own spot. Must read more about Whitlam too.
Stephanie Cook
May 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
I didn't end up reading right to the end of this collection of non-fiction short stories. While some of the pieces were interesting or relevant to me (as a WA local), I generally felt like I was merely spectator while reading these stories. I lost interest, in the end, in what felt like a collection of self-indulgences in which the author didn't really seem to attempt to engage the reader. I found this disappointing from a writer who is clearly so capable of drawing his readers into his experien ...more
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
To be honest, this is just not the book I feel like reading at the moment. It’s as much essay as memoir. I have given up on page 25 at the following sentence:

“Whether dealing with outer space or the operating spaces within buildings and machines, Kubrick overlays many scenes with the fraught and claustrophobic noise of human respiration, like a mesh of consciousness lacing every apparent abyss, and as a result each mute action is threaded with contingencies so great as to be almost unbearable.”

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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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