I really had to waffle around in considering how to rate this. There's really some of the best gritty, realistic and poetic writing I've ever read interspersed with some moments of ham-fisted "wise-dickery" (to use Winton's own word). I had to put the book aside three times when I first started it but once I really got into it, I couldn't put it down. Soon though, as it progressed, I gradually lost interest and found myself crawling to the finish line. I never developed anything more than a cursory care for what should be very interesting characters. And this is the reason I'm giving it 3 stars. It's the "anti-Willa Cather" novel in the sense that Cather was able to tell an epic and dramatic story of a people that took place over decades and generations (like in O Pioneers!
) yet still left you feeling as if you'd breezed through a slim short story. You wanted more
. Cloudstreet was 400+ pages but felt more like 800 as it became mired in its own grit and finishing it was like freeing myself from quicksand.