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by Tim Winton
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publishing date: 26/05/2009
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780312428396
  • ISBN: 0143009583


Breath is a story of risk, of learning one's limits by challenging death. On the wild, lonely coast of Western Australia, two thrill-seeking teenage boys fall under the spell of a veteran big-wave surfer named Sando. Their mentor urges them into a regiment of danger and challenge, and the boys test themselves and each other on storm swells and over shark-haunted reefs. The boys give no thought to what they could lose, or to the demons that drive their mentor on into ever-greater danger. Venturing beyond all caution--in sports, relationships, and sex--each character approaches a point from which none of them will return undamaged.
Tim Winton was born in Perth, Western Australia, and is the preeminent Australian novelist of his generation. He has written twenty books, including the bestselling novels Cloudstreet, The Riders, and Dirt Music.
Winner of the Miles Franklin Award
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

In Breath, Tim Winton, evokes an adolescence spent resisting complacency, testing one’s limits against nature, finding like-minded souls, and discovering just how far one breath will take you. It is a story of extremes?extreme sports and extreme emotions.
On the wild, lonely coast of Western Australia, two thrill-seeking and barely adolescent boys fall into the enigmatic thrall of veteran big-wave surfer Sando. Together they form an odd but elite trio. The grown man initiates the boys into a kind of Spartan ethos, a regimen of risk and challenge, where they test themselves in storm swells on remote and shark-infested reefs, pushing each other to the edges of endurance, courage, and sanity. But where is all this heading?  Their mentor’s past is forbidden territory and his American wife’s peculiar behavior indicates an unknown illness, possibly physical or mental.  Venturing beyond all limits?in relationships, in physical challenge, and in sexual behavior?there is a point where oblivion is the only outcome. Winton’s talent for conveying physical sensation, Breath is a lyrical and atmospheric coming-of-age tale from one of Australian literature’s finest storytellers.
"Darkly exhilarating . . . Winton, one of Australia's most acclaimed novelists, excels at conveying the shadowy side of his country's beauty, the way even the most ordinary landscape can exert a paralyzing hold . . . Winton's novel succeeds as a tautly gorgeous meditation on the inescapable human addiction to 'the monotony of drawing breath,' whether you want to or not."?Jennifer Schuessler, The New York Times
"Darkly exhilarating . . . Winton, one of Australia's most acclaimed novelists, excels at conveying the shadowy side of his country's beauty, the way even the most ordinary landscape can exert a paralyzing hold . . . Winton's novel succeeds as a tautly gorgeous meditation on the inescapable human addiction to 'the monotony of drawing breath,' whether you want to or not."?Jennifer Schuessler, The New York Times

"Tim Winton, the prolific Australian author of . . . nine novels, three short-story collections, six children's books, and three nonfiction books, has a genius for the ungainly comedy of family life and the isolated sadness of lovers. But he is also a writer who values themes, a practitioner of what might be called the school of Macho Romanticism, or perhaps better, Heroic Sensitivity. His novels, often set on the sea in Western Australia, are grand, gothically lyrical affairs, beautifully written and spiritually overwrought. They can partake of giddy magical realism . . . they can partake of the solemn wilderness epic . . . Winton's characters tend to flirt with death, long for death, while at the same time bravely suffering physical hardship in order to escape death.  The new novel is also charged with physical danger, physical courage, and Winton's brand of rugged introspection. But it is far less extravagant in style and scope than some of his earlier work. Interestingly, for a book about risk, this novel is meticulously, intensely careful in its composition. Breath is distilled Winton . . . a classic coming-of-age novel, and it's a good one, too. But here the story of a boy growing up becomes something more elemental. Pikelet confronts the boundaries of not just his own life, but of life itself. The novel is also, deliriously, a yarn of surfing . . . Breath is an exploration of ambition and complacency, but it is also a nuanced story of an adolescent turning his affections away from his parents to a more glamorous couple, as adolescents so often do.”?Cathleen Schine, The New York Review of Books
"Richly Australian, Breath is a classic coming-of-age novel, which is not to pigeonhole the work as small or pat. Thomas Wolfe and James Joyce among many other literary greats have employed the form. Readers who are, like the narrator, adolescent might well enjoy Tim Winton's surf-and-turf tale. But this is also a book for grown-ups. Regarded as a national treasure in Australia, Mr Winton is skillful at conveying not only the thrill of surfing, but also its terrors. For Mr Winton no two waves are alike (one is 'as ugly as a civic monument'). Descriptions of man-meets-ocean are vivid, intoxicating and beautifully written. Given that Mr Winton is now 47, he is remarkably in touch with the currents of a 15-year-old's emotional life, and towards the end of the novel does a marvellous job of fast-forwarding into the damaged adult that Pikelet will become. Breath adeptly portrays the complex symbiotic relationship between the older mentor and his worshipful acolytes. Which party is more grateful for the other? Of Eva, 'there was something careless about her that I mistook for courage in the same way I misread Sando's vanity as wisdom.' Yet what may most distinguish this coming-of-age fiction is its perfect balance of teenage romanticism and disillusion. The hippy couple the boys idolise is bound to disappoint. But to the very end, Mr Winton celebrates the immediacy and animation of 'something completely pointless and beautiful.' Surfing, disappoint? Never."?The Economist

"This novel is a paean to surfing. But it will not only be savoured by those with sun-bleached hair and rippling torsos. It treats elemental themes of fear and friendship, loneliness and boredom, the lure and danger of life lived intensely, the broken promises of adolescence sliding into middle age . . . The sensitivities and vulnerabilities of adolescence are depicted here with deft and painful accuracy. A tragic key in the novel, narrated as it is from the perspective of middle age, is the loss of this youthful freshness . . . The quiet delicacy and dignity of the narrative voice reflects another of its dominant themes: the silence that often prevails in make friendship . . . While Breath deals with primal, mythic conflicts?the clash of wilderness and civilization, self and society, youth and age?it does not strain for epic effect. The voice has a muted, even modest quality, betokening the half-successful life that Pikelet goes on to live. There is a struggle, disappointment and survival, but no portentous tragic fall. It is a quiet, feather-fingered style that nonetheless has the power to claw. For all the ostensible hubris of the theme, Winton's characters are too scarred and thwarted for heroism, too typical to be archetypal."?R?n?n McDonald, The Times Literary Supplement

?Breath is a coming-of-age novel written with Tim Winton’s customary tenderness and vivid sense of place and psychological truth. He manages to portray brilliantly made characters against a mythic landscape, thus creating a narrative that is gripping and breath-taking both in its vast scope and in its use of emotional detail. This is his most forceful and perfect novel to date.”?Colm Toibin, author of The Master

"Breath contains wonderful descriptions of the ocean, surfing, rivalry between mates, and small-town life. The novel is beautifully written and vintage Winton . . . Breath is gripping . . . Breath breaks new literary ground and may well become an Australian classic . . . Winton writes about surfing with an insider's knowledge and an unparalleled lyrical beauty, and Breath might be the first great surfing novel"?Nathanael O'Reilly, Antipodes

"Two thrill-seeking boys, Bruce and Loonie, are young teenagers in small town Australia, circa the early 1970s. Their attraction is focused on the water-ponds, rivers, the sea?but they do little more than play around until they fall in with a mysterious, older man named Sando. He recognizes their daredevil wildness and takes it upon himself to teach them to surf. As the boys become more skilled, their exploits become more reckless; narrator Bruce (nicknamed 'Pikelet') has doubts about where all this is heading, while the aptly named Loonie wants only bigger and bolder thrills. This mix of doubt and desire intensifies when the boys make a discovery about their mentor's past . . . As Sando's attentions and favor flip-flop from one boy to the other, the rivalry between the two, present from the beginning, grows stronger and more sinister. Sando's American wife, Eva . . . walks with a limp, has plenty of secrets of her own and becomes increasingly involved in Pikelet's life, in ways that even a 15-year-old might recognize as not entirely appropriate. Winton's language, often terse, never showy, hovers convincingly between a teenager's inarticul...

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  • One for fans of Auto-erotic asphyxiation everywhere!
    From Amazon

    Some random thoughts I have on this book are as follows and contain plot spoilers. The story in effect spans a 30-ish year time-span, but the vast bulk of the story concentrates around Pikelet between the ages of around 13 and 17. You get the odd feeling that his is a life that peaked too soon, and the mental price of him becoming immersed in metaphysical waters that were out of his depth cost him the middle years of his life. He becomes a man essentially alone, with his relationship with his wife and daughters mirroring that of his parents, he almost becomes an observer in his own life. Winton probably only expends 3 dozen pages on Pikelets life since the age of 17, perhaps mirroring the feeling that Pikelet himself feels that the peak of his life was his mid-teens and that period shaped his subsequent actions. The fact he tells his story comes due to the rediscovery of himself though a job as a paramedic, a good paramedic, where he almost reverts to the "Sando" roll, and becomes a mentor for the young and up and coming, who unlike him and Loonie, his protégé views him as creepy and with the arrogance of youth feels she has nothing to learn from the middle aged Pike. His confidence with his ability as a paramedic parallel his confidence and ability on the surf board and at the end of the story, he demonstrates this to his 2 daughters, that their old dad was once something, and when out on a board, is still the young man he once was. Why did I like this book? The writing style is evocative, shorn of punctuation like Cormac McCarthy, but just as eloquent. Nothing much happens in the book, but I was drawn in by the spell of wave, wind and the paths these few characters might choose to take. Mostly of all, like in all of my favourite books, I identified with the main character and the cloak of unfulfilled sadness that adult Pikelet wears. Recommended.

  • Didn't leave me breathless
    From Amazon

    Honestly I had really high exceptations concerning this novel. I love coming-of-age-story, but dear readers, there are far more better ones out there. Alone the reviews and prizes Winton got with this book, I immediately bought "Breath". It was a disappointing read, somewhere in the middle I skipped pages to come to the end. And even the end lead to nowhere. Where is the great point of this story? Sorry, but I didn't get it.

  • Didn't Leave Me Breathless
    From Amazon

    This was a disappointing read. It's a coming of age novel but it really leads nowhere -- at least nowhere profound. It seems to me to be just a string of vignettes of a boy becoming a man and of a man looking back -- briefly -- on his life. In addition, there was way too much about surfing. Page after page. The characters and some of the description of the Western Australia coast were interesting, but at no point did the book become intense and compelling. Winton is a powerful wordsmith but to me, a good book has to be more than just good writing. All in all, I found the book unsatisfying.

  • Youths turbulence in a breath taking environment
    From Amazon

    The deserted foreshores and undtrodden beaches of Australia are a marvel in the 21st century. Nobody describes this idyllic, achingly beautiful environment better than Tim Winton. Add to that a story based on a young man who discovers the darker side of life, sex and death earlier than most and you have a gripping story. Its hard to select which is more memorable, the marvellous evocation of sea and bush or Pikelet's journey. Read it and decide.

  • Breath Review
    From Amazon

    Breath gives a real insight into the life of small town Australia and those that are passionate about the world of surfing. The link between the two main characters are developed sensitively as the older man takes the younger teenager into his life and exposes him to another world. You don't need to be a surfer to appreciate this book, but love of the wild coasts of Australia do help. Highly recommended!!

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