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This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner

He would have liked to move around her house and examine all its icons, or to hang over the front windowsill with her and make remarks about the dress and gait of passing pedestrians; but he wanted also to get her outside and on to his own turf, into public places where no-one was host and no-one guest, where everything had a price, where he could get what he wanted, pay for it, and keep moving in long, effortless, curving afternoons unsnagged by obligation or haste: the idea of destination meant almost as little to him as it did to Billy.

  1. Is "curving afternoons" used metaphorically, and means afternoons that you feel relaxed?

  2. Does "the idea of destination meant almost as little to him as it did to Billy." mean: He had not got any idea about destination and he kept walking and where ever was his destination?

  3. And I think "turf" here mean the places that he went in his free time. Am I right?

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    HIs "turf" just means the places in which he feels that he has ownership/dominance of the situation; dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/turf - the area that a person or group considers its own: e.g. Judges feel that the courtroom is their private turf / The fight over high-definition TV standards has been a turf war among the electronics, motion picture, and recording industries.
    – Valorum
    May 29 at 16:12
  • Thank you for your comment. Do you have any idea about "curving afternoons" and "the idea of destination meant almost as little to him as it did to Billy."? May 29 at 17:04
  • In context I think "curving afternoons" just means meandering. Motion but without purpose or speed.
    – Valorum
    May 29 at 17:30
  • Can we say his turf is "public places where no-one was host and no-one guest, where everything had a price, where he could get what he wanted, pay for it"? May 30 at 6:44
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The comments have already covered part of this, but here's an answer anyhow.

"Turf" is used in the sense of an area under one's control or a frequently visited place. Here he is contrasting the outside world - his own turf - with her house, which is her turf. When he is in her house with her, he is guest and she is host; it is her territory. He would prefer to be "where no-one was host and no-one guest" because he is more comfortable there.

"Curving afternoons" is metaphorical and is in contrast to something like "straight, directed afternoons", where one moves straight from a task to the next in an orderly, no-nonsense fashion. Because the afternoon is "curving" he does the opposite. He meanders around, confident in his ability to handle the situations he finds himself in, and simply have time to do low-urgency fun things.

Billy's neurodivergence makes it difficult for him to easily communicate with the people around him, or act in ways that they would recognise as pursuing neurotypical goals. The other characters likely perceive this as having no conception of "destination", no defined endpoints that he is working towards. Thus saying "the idea of destination meant almost as little to him as it did to Billy" means that these "curving afternoons" are spent directionless, with no real end goal or clearly-defined target in mind. He simply went and took in the view, dealing with what came when it came.

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  • It might be worth adding that all online searches for 'curving afternoons' come back to this passage, so it is by no means a phrase with an established meaning and, like so much of The Children's Bach, relies on the reader bringing their own interpretation and hoping its the same as the authors... Though I do think your interpretation is correct, the character is looking to use the afternoon to 'take the long way around' rather than get anywhere or get anything done in a hurry.
    – Spagirl
    Sep 6 at 15:33

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