Years ago I accompanied a friend to a dance performance in New York City. A dancer-choreographer from California, she’d come east especially to see the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. They danced to John Cage’s three note composition 4’33”. From my point of view, there wasn’t much going on. The performers padded onto the stage, took a position, and maintained it for the duration of what seemed to me like mostly silence. I sat bewildered, but my friend leaned forward in her seat transfixed. She gasped at times and at the end applauded rapturously.
“That’s as close to technical perfection as the human body can get,” she whispered.
Reading The Turning by Tim Winton, I had an experience similar to my friend’s: eager, at times gasping, enraptured. Winton’s writing is as close to technical perfection as the written word can get. Like the Merce Cunningham dancers were to my friend, I found every page of The Turning a masterclass in technique. And yet there’s nothing fancy or inaccessible about his stories. They are familiar and real.