Frst published in 1991, Tim Winton's Cloudstreet is now presented
in one of its several Penguin editions as a 'Modern
Australian Classic'. Might this detail of the book's marketing reveal
something about the novel's metatextual status? It might be seen
to imply that Cloudstreet figures a certain Australian modernity.
Indeed, this modernity would have to be commensurable with
something classic, standard, which is also to say formative. And
insofar as it is formative of the present, a classic is also implicitly,
at least in part, of the past. Cloudstreet's metatextual status, then,
implies that the novel figures Australia's modernity even as it
relies on a classicism that is spectral: haunting the present in all
its modernity. If the paradoxical canonical status clct:imed by the
novel implies a certain spectrality, in this way then it is perhaps
not surprising that in fleeting but essential moments the novel
functions not only as a family epic, but also as a ghost story.