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The Windy Season

Thalassophobia is a fear of the open sea and large bodies of water. The Windy Season is probably a book such phobic will either want to steer clear of – or more likely immerse themselves in for the morbidity of its depiction of the ocean’s vastness.

A Western Australian sojourn by Sam Carmody, The Windy Season is set around the coastline and young Paul, whose older brother, Elliot, goes missing from a fishing town aptly named Stark. Paul follows the ghost of his brother to the town, doggedly continuing to search for Elliot, while taking his place working on his cousin’s Cray fishing boat.

He learns the precarious secrets that many residents of the town hold while witnessing the unforgiving nature of the sea. Interspersed with Paul’s harsh lessons about the coast are anonymous entries of a member of a bikie gang caught up in a police sting fleeing across central Australia in tense, hurried bursts.

Sam Carmody has created a portrait of life on the sea both bleak and beautiful. He grasps the tangible power and frightening splendour of the places where ocean meets sparse human populations through Paul’s story. The sea is definitely its own living entity in the text, powerful and a constant reminder of human frailty against the elemental and unforgiving ocean.

A strong sense of loneliness pervades the opening of the book, the atmosphere of Stark feels like a peculiar and real reflection of the nature of isolated small towns. Carmody’s clear intimacy with these kind of small Western Australian towns adds a reality to the scenery and figures that pepper the background of the text.

The town policewoman describes a town “moving after it’s dead,” Stark’s methamphetamines use so pervasive it “was like the bacteria that flushes a corpse.” When compared with the secondary narrative thread of a young man involved in bikie drug dealing, it becomes obvious Carmody is painting an interesting portrait of a town not only sinking, but drowning at the hands of its meth problem.

The stylistic choice not to use quotation marks gives the book a breathless feel, at times a little confusing but ultimately adding to the feeling of being uneasily adrift in Carmody’s sea of words. This story also has a smell – Carmody appeals to the close nature of scent and memory as a motif in the book, its strong olfactory imagery portraying places and types of people with at times shocking accuracy.

The shark motif used throughout is also an interesting one. They are at once symbols of unspoken fears and manifest human failing. Paul is terrified of the creatures; to him they are the fear of things he does not understand – his brother and the sea.

Carmody’s combination of a maritime bildungsroman and a missing person story is a unique creation, a perceptive and consummate piece of storytelling.

AuthorThalassophobia is a fear of the open sea and large bodies of water. The Windy Season is probably a book such phobic will either want to steer clear of – or more likely immerse themselves in for the morbidity of its depiction of the ocean’s vastness. A Western Australian sojourn by Sam Carmody, The Windy Season is set around the coastline and young Paul, whose older brother, Elliot, goes missing from a fishing town aptly named Stark. Paul follows the ghost of his brother to the town, doggedly continuing to search for Elliot, while taking his place working on his cousin’s Cray fishing boat. He learns the precarious secrets that many residents of the town hold while witnessing the unforgiving nature of the sea. Interspersed with Paul’s harsh lessons about the coast are anonymous entries of a member of a bikie gang caught up in a police sting fleeing across central Australia in tense, hurried bursts. Sam Carmody has created a portrait of life on the sea both bleak and beautiful. He grasps the tangible power and frightening splendour of the places where ocean meets sparse human populations through Paul’s story. The sea is definitely its own living entity in the text, powerful and a constant reminder of human frailty against the elemental and unforgiving ocean. A strong sense of loneliness pervades the opening of the book, the atmosphere of Stark feels like a peculiar and real reflection of the nature of isolated small towns. Carmody’s clear intimacy with these kind of small Western Australian towns adds a reality to the scenery and figures that pepper the background of the text. The town policewoman describes a town “moving after it’s dead,” Stark’s methamphetamines use so pervasive it “was like the bacteria that flushes a corpse.” When compared with the secondary narrative thread of a young man involved in bikie drug dealing, it becomes obvious Carmody is painting an interesting portrait of a town not only sinking, but drowning at the hands of its meth problem. The stylistic choice not to use quotation marks gives the book a breathless feel, at times a little confusing but ultimately adding to the feeling of being uneasily adrift in Carmody’s sea of words. This story also has a smell – Carmody appeals to the close nature of scent and memory as a motif in the book, its strong olfactory imagery portraying places and types of people with at times shocking accuracy. The shark motif used throughout is also an interesting one. They are at once symbols of unspoken fears and manifest human failing. Paul is terrified of the creatures; to him they are the fear of things he does not understand – his brother and the sea. Carmody’s combination of a maritime bildungsroman and a missing person story is a unique creation, a perceptive and consummate piece of storytelling.
PublisherAllen & Unwin
ISBN9781760111564
Websitehttp://www.allenandunwin.com
DistributorAllen & Unwin
ReleasedAugust 2016