Eyrie, Tim Winton’s 11th novel, features a protagonist who, like his creator, is ‘a product of the Sixties’, an environmental activist and a resident of Western Australia. With luck, the comparisons end there. Specifically, Tom Keely was an environmental activist before falling victim to a smear campaign. His career over (‘He was free and unencumbered. Which is to say alone and unemployed’), his reputation in ruins and his marriage in tatters, Keely is now a recluse on the top floor of an ugly high-rise, a ‘classic shitbox’ called the Mirador. Hangovers and self-loathing plague his days. In a rare moment of clarity it occurs to him – it ‘winked like an oil light on the dash’ – that he is losing his mind.
Fiction needs chance encounters to rescue its loners and propel its readers: Winton eventually allows Keely to bump into a mother and child in the lift. Dickens, the king of coincidence, couldn’t have dreamt up a better one. ‘What’s the odds?’ exclaims Gemma Buck, who lives several doors down on