Tim Winton's Breath, winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award, is a story about the wildness of youth and learning to live with its passing.
When paramedic Bruce Pike is called out to deal with another teenage adventure gone wrong, he knows better than his colleague, better than the kid's parents, what happened and how. Thirty years before, that dead boy could have been him.
A relentlessly gripping and deeply moving novel about the damage you do to yourself when you're young and think you're immortal.
'It's unlikely Winton has ever written as well as he writes in Breath... Its seeming simplicity is deceptive, for beneath its pared-back surfaces lies all the steel of a major novelist operating at full throttle in a territory he has spent 25 years making his own.' James Bradley, The Age
'A novelist who, to a peerless degree, has learnt how to do it...Breath seems to cut through everything, and to speak with unusual honesty.' Philip Hensher, Spectator
'An absorbing, powerful and deeply beautiful novel, a meditation on surfing which becomes a rumination about the very stuff of existence.' Helen Gordon, The Observer
'This brilliant book may well turn out to be the finest thing that Winton has done.' Andrew Riemer, Sydney Morning Herald
'Breath is about moving out of your depth, getting in over your head, having your soul damaged beyond repair ...But against all this pointless sorrow, there remains the evanescent beauty of the world, and Winton matches that with limitlessly beautiful prose.' Carolyn See, Washington Post
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Few authors capture the rush and lure of the ocean like Tim Winton, who vividly brings the Western Australian coast to life. Breath follows the intense bond in the mid-’70s between a pair of teen friends nicknamed Pikelet and Loonie. Pikelet narrates the story of both his risk-taking youth and his less glamorous adult life as a paramedic and father. Contrasting dynamic and florid descriptions of surfing with clipped dialogue and blunt first-person insights, Winton’s novel—winner of the prestigious Miles Franklin Award—has been adapted into a movie by Aussie actor Simon Baker.
SignatureReviewed by David MaineThis slender book packs an emotional wallop. Two thrill-seeking boys, Bruce and Loonie, are young teenagers in smalltown 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.Surfing isn't the only dangerous game in town. 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, becomes more of a presence, too. She 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 inarticulateness and the staccato delivery of a grown man: So there we were, this unlikely trio. A select and peculiar club, a tiny circle of friends, a cult, no less. Sando and his maniacal apprentices. The language manages to summon up both the uncertain teenager and the jaded adult: It transpired that I was not, after all, immune to a dare, Pikelet tells us at one point, with both the breathtaking unawareness of the boy and the irony of the man.Told from the perspective of the narrator's present life as a paramedic, Breath aims to recapture a long-passed episode in a boy's life and show how this shaped the man he grew into. The story contemplates what it means to be less ordinary in an era when extreme sports hadn't even been recognized. (The fear of being ordinary is one of the terrors that drives these daredevils to push themselves ever further.) The author of 13 previous books, Winton is well-known in Australia and should be here. He touches upon important themes, of death, life, breathing and its absence, while looking dispassionately upon the relentless pursuit of thrills, pleasure, sex, status: the mundane obsessions of the ordinary and extraordinary alike. David Maine is the author of Fallen; The Book of Samson; and, most recently, Monster, 1959.
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Tim’s description of surfing is terrific. His description of his relationships is so real. The events he describes seem authentic and the way he ties the whole story together makes you want to read more.
Tim Winton writes with his usual clarity and insight. Two young boys fall under the spell of the charismatic and dangerous Sando, a big wave surfer. The story is about extremes and how we gone back from the brink. It’s a powerful story.
I enjoyed this book with lots of sad times and some nerve racking moments. Parts I didn’t enjoy because it’s not what I wanted to happen. A good read and a good movie made from this book.