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Cloudstreet: A Novel Paperback – June 6, 2002

4.3 out of 5 stars 184 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Luck don't change, love," observes Sam Pickles to his daughter Rose. "It moves." Considerations of fate and love underlie Winton's ( Shallows ) wry novel, set in Western Australia, about two families thrown together in the years following WW II. Sam Pickles earns a modest living mining guano for nitrate until he loses his hand in an accident. Fortunately, the family inherits a rambling old house--the Cloudstreet of the title--in which they can live, although they still lack cash. The dilemma is resolved with the sudden arrival of the rigid, God-fearing Lamb family, whom the rather libertine Pickles take in as boarders. Following the quirky, deeply etched members of these families--"flamin whackos," in Quick Lamb's description--as they forge bonds and undergo travails, Winton explores the haphazard nature of human existence with a quietly focused ferocity. Featuring lyrical passages and rapid-fire, minimally punctuated dialogue, this satiric, affectionate family saga is tragic and hilarious--and often both at once. Winton shows himself a worthy successor to his countryman Martin Boyd, who portrayed the Anglo-Australian society of previous generations.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Australian Winton's fifth novel is chock-full, depicting birth, death, resurrection, marriage, miscarriage, gambling, drunkenness, adultery, anorexia, depression, love, and joy. From 1944 to 1964, the Pickles and Lamb families share a large house in a suburb of Perth on the wrong side of the tracks. The Pickles own the house and are slothful, he a gambler with long streaks of bad luck, she often drunk and adulterous. The tenant Lambs are hard-working. After the latter open a successful grocery on the first floor of the house, the families' lives become intertwined, and home and hearth become an anchor. World War II, Australian politics, the Cuban missle crisis, and Kennedy's assassination take a backseat to their trials and final joy. Biblical imagery, a talking pig, a house that cracks its knuckles, a son who glows in the dark, and a mysterious black "guardian angel" add spice to a book whose language resonates and charms. Highly recommended for most fiction collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/92.
- Harold Augenbraum, Mercantile Lib., New York
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (June 6, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743234413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743234412
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (184 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #426,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Los Angeles Times Book Review states "Winton is a one-man band of genius."
Heady words, and I snapped at the bait, intrigued by the raving reviews of the readers. (Be careful not to read all of them, as one gives away the entire ending in one sentence).
I was not disappointed. I was completely captivated by this story in a way I have never been by any other. The originality, teasing slang and the insight into australian post-world war II was a hearty combination that cadenced into one of the most fascinating books I have ever read.
This book went with me everywhere. I discussed it with many and especially enjoyed lingering over certain sentences ripe with slang. It was probably one of the most delightful aspects of reading this book; the freshness and foreigness to me as an American reading the saucy expressions of Australians. The humor is hilarious, and there was a smile for nearly every page I read and also moments that made your heart melt. At this very moment, there are friends of mine working in medicine (hospital) still trying to figure out what Tim Winton meant by "the smell of nugget in the webbing."
Aside from the hilarity, the novel is about two families that by chance come together to live in the same large home. The Pickles Family inherits a large home from a relative that dies suddenly and unexpectantly. Thanks to this relative (Uncle Joel) and his wise forethought, he bars his brother, Sam from selling the home for 20 years. Joel's motivation is a premeditated attempt to protect the wife and children of Sam and Sam's gambling at the race tracks, not to mention the unfortunate work related amputation of his fingers on one hand that renders him nearly unemployable.
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By Mark Keith on September 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
It is sad to see this book is out of print. I still have a hardback copy on my shelf. Since first reading the book -- the first time I read it I had actually checked it out of the library -- I have obtained three copies at my favorite used bookstore, giving away two copies to friends. Maybe it was because Tim Winton was not a household name even among readers or maybe it was because "Cloudstreet" did not appear in Harold Bloom's list of canonical books (and I felt it should have been), but there is no other work of fiction I've felt strong enough about to get three copies to give away two -- that I felt needed to be read and read by as many people as possible. A marvelous allegory, a great work of fantasy with so much of the gritty details of the mundane world you forget how unlikely these two families are that live in the house on Cloudstreet. The Pickles and The Lambs, the two sides of a spiritual person. The Lambs: moral, charitable, and hardworking, but without any faith. On the other end, Sam Pickle, a drunkard and gambler, but a man who knows about what it means to live in the shadow of God: that some days you cannot lose, and other days . . . to get out of bed is asking for trouble. And then there is Fish Lamb who half comes back from his watery grave, the other half living in the world of the spirit watching over the people he loves and telling us their story. I cannot say too much . . . this is a book that needs to be read and then it needs to be contemplated with the sense of wonder it evokes.
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Format: Paperback
This book follows the lives of two Australian families who share a house from the 1940s to the 1960s. Both families are poor, but one believes in "luck" and the other creates their own luck. It's a wonderful, absorbing portrayal of a wide variety of characters, the ups and downs of their lives and the vicissitudes and joys of their crowded lives. The writing was very engaging, although American readers might have some trouble with some of the Australian language.
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Format: Paperback
This is the kind of book you wait for. The words flow smooth and slow, like a deep river, and before you know it a full portrait of a land, a house, two families, and a dozen lifetimes are etched into your mind where they will stay for a very long time.

The character development is flawless and you come to care about each one of them whether you like them or not.

This was the first work by Winton that I've read and the beginning was a little rough going (there are no quotation marks) but by the end of chapter 1 I was wondering why quotation marks were ever invented. In Winton's skillful hands they are totally unnecessary.

I truly did not want this book to end. I, too, wanted to stay on Cloudstreet.
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By A Customer on August 6, 1997
Format: Hardcover
I could not put this book down if I had wanted. The complete Australian atmosphere mesmerized me ... or was it Mr. Winton's unique style of writing? He certainly has a way of capturing a scene in every sentence. This was, perhaps, the closest one can come to experience humanity through a novel. The ordinary lives of humans captured in the normal unexpected events that occur in one's own life. The tragic fragility of what we experience as life can be summed up in the story of Fish. I would recommend this book to high school teachers everywhere. Additionally, I am left wondering how this book could have been missed by the individuals who decide the Booker Prize and its' shortlist
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