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Hardcover Breath Book

ISBN: 0374116342

ISBN13: 9780374116347


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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Good

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Book Overview

Tim Winton is Australia's best-loved novelist. His new work, Breath , is an extraordinary evocation of 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's a story of extremes--extreme sports and extreme emotions. On the wild, lonely coast of Western Australia, two thrillseeking and barely adolescent boys fall into the enigmatic thrall...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Tim Winton is my new favorite author

BREATH is a mesmerizing reverie about the meaning of courage - and life itself - that sucks the reader in from the first page to the last. This bittersweet coming of age story set on the wild coast of Western Australia follows two boys as they become obsessed with surfing and are both themselves compelled, as well as encouraged by their charismatic mentor, to pit themselves against ever more dangerous waves. Deft, delicate characterizations set against a big country and its rugged people are vivid, but the scenes starring the whitewater monster waves sweep you into another realm altogether, whether you want to go there or not. Unforgettable.

`I've bored people in bars and lost a marriage to silence.'

The novel opens with the middle-aged Bruce Pike, then a paramedic, attending the scene of a death that everyone else considers (or wants) to be a suicide. Bruce doesn't believe that it is and thus begins the body of the novel where Bruce recalls his youth (during the 1970s) in a conservative logging town near the coast in Western Australia. In less than 220 pages, Tim Winton creates the angst of growing up, of finding your own way when those around you seem to be lost and captures the beauty and cruelty of the natural world while sketching in characters who seem to be constantly searching the external world for what can surely only be an internal form of happiness. Who you end up being and what you end up seeing depends a lot on where you've been. Bruce Pike (`Pikelet') and Ivan Loon (`Loonie') form a competitive type of friendship in the double digit years just before teenagehood. Their friendship is both enhanced and complicated by meeting up with Sando, an aging surfer, and his wife Eva. This is a novel about life, friendship, experimentation and regret. It is also about boundaries, risk-taking and (for some) survival. Tim Winton is a great author. His fictional worlds can be uncomfortable and some readers will find aspects of this novel confronting as I did. Despite this (or perhaps because of this), I'm glad I read this novel and some of the imagery will remain with me for a very long time. Jennifer Cameron-Smith

Another Fine Tim Winton Novel

Australian writer Tim Winton's latest short novel (217 pages), unlike some of his previous novels--CLOUDSTREET and DIRT MUSIC come to mind-- is one that you can devour in one sitting for it will pull you down into it like the undertow that this fantastic writer writes about with such breathtaking beauty. We see the events unfold through the eyes of Bruce, now a gnarly-- one of Winton's favorite words-- paramedic in his 50's who recalls events that transpired when he was a budding teenager in the small town of Sawyer, Australia. The novel begins with Bruce and a woman partner answering an emergency call from a distraught family whose teenaged son apparently has committed suicide by hanging. Then the narrator jumps back in time to his youth and talks for many pages about his friend Loonie and their strange relationship-- a sort of hero worship on the part of Bruce-- with an exotic former surfing champion Sando who pushes the boys to newer and more dangerous heights as they take on more and more difficult waves as they strive to rise from being just ordinary. Then there is Sando's American wife Eva. BREATH is a strange novel indeed. If you are wondering what a teenager's suicide has to do with all this surfing on the Australia coast, as I was, just be patient for Mr. Winton ties up all the loose ends with a powerful wallop. The novel is a coming-of-age novel about sexual awakening, the danger associated with the emotions if they are left to run rampant when you are thirteen or fourteen, the scars that remain in adulthood. I am always fascinated when writers from other parts of the world write about Americans. Eva tells Bruce what it was like growing up in Salt Lake City, Mormons and American ambition. "But the way Eva told it, her countrymen were restless, nomadic, clogging freeways and airports in their fevered search for action. She said they were driven by ambition in a way that no Australian could possibly understand. . . She made her own people sound vicious. Yet God was in everything - all the talk, all the music, even on their money. Ambition, she said. Aspiration and mortal anxiety." Mr. Winton has homed in admirably on the contemporary American psyche. Tim Winton's language is always appropriate and often completely beautiful--from creating new verbs (rag-dolling) to describing surfing when Bruce contrasts the practicality of Sawyer's farmers, loggers and millers who "did solid, practical things" with the beauty and grace of surfers. "How strange it was to see men do something beautiful. Something pointless and elegant, as though nobody saw or cared." And he expresses his own feelings about surfing: "but for me there was still the outlaw feeling of doing something graceful, as if dancing on water was the best and bravest thing a man could do." Tim Winton is one terrific writer.

"Could I do something gnarly, or was I just ordinary?"

(4.5 stars) When a middle-aged EMT arrives at the scene of a "suicide" by a seventeen-year-old who has hanged himself, he knows instinctively that this is an accident and not an intentional suicide--he recognizes the signs. Through flashbacks, the EMT, Brucie Pike ("Pikelet") relives his own teen years and coming-of-age on the west coast of Australia in the 1960s and 1970s. A lonely boy, he finds a companion in Ivan Loon ("Loonie"), with whom he shares a love of surfing, "something beautiful... pointless and elegant." But the beauty of surfing is far less important than its excitement and increasingly dangerous thrills. "We didn't know what endorphins were, but we quickly understood how narcotic the feeling was, and how addictive it became," Pikelet declares. Tim Winton, Australia's best known and most prolific contemporary author, takes the reader along on a series of surfing challenges--life challenges for teenage Pikelet and Loonie. They practice by holding their breaths for extraordinarily long periods of time so that they can dive deep and survive the boiling surf if they are upended, and they force themselves to go the limit on every terrifying ride. Soon the boys become disciples of middle-aged Billy Sanderson ("Sando"), a surfing guru who fears nothing and who takes them to remote and more dangerous sites. "What we did and what we were after...was the extraordinary," Pikelet declares, and the "extraordinary," he believes, can be achieved only by facing fears and daring what no one else dares. As time passes and the boys discover women, they extend their love of thrills into the sexual arena. An older woman with whom Pikelet has a relationship introduces him to her own need for exotic thrills, and Pikelet begins finally to question the relationship between excitement, thrills, risk, and death, and what maturity really means. Does being a mature man mean giving up thrills and choosing to be "ordinary"? Is "extraordinary" a relative term bestowed on one person by other people who value the same things? And how does one really become "extraordinary"? In spare prose which uses some of the most vivid action verbs ever, Winton tells an exciting story which makes the seductive thrills of surfing comprehensible to the non-surfer. The characters clearly reveal themselves as humans--within the surfing milieu and within their private lives. Some grow in the course of the novel, and some do not. The life lessons which Winton articulates so clearly evolve from the action of this unusual plot, and when Brucie Pike reviews his life at age fifty-two, he finally puts his life as Pikelet-the-surfer into perspective. Tim Winton's western Australian coming-of-age novel is vastly different from The Catcher in the Rye and other such novels in terms of its setting, but not so different, after all, in the boys' discoveries of what makes men humans and what makes life worth living. n Mary Whipple Dirt Music : A Novel Cloudstreet: A Novel The Turning: Stories T

Catching the Big One

In a small town, a young boy finds adventure where he can. Disregarding parental distress, particularly when the lad already is disdainful of them, is part of the game. Bruce Pike lives in Sawyer, a lumber town on Western Australia's south coast. Entertainments are sparse, to say the least. The best he can do is follow his mate Ivan Loon's pace. Loonie is well named since no dare seems beyond his attempt. "Pikelet" and Loonie use the local river to find their limits - staying under water holding their breath. In relating this tale of two boys entering manhood, Winton has added yet another gem to his crown of marked successes. He copped Australia's highest literary award, the Miles Franklin, for his first novel "Cloudstreet". He deserves another for this tale of a man's boyhood reminiscences. Holding your breath under water brings confidence and self-satisfaction, but lacks a major need in boys, the admiration of others. Loonie's his mate, but they are alone in their fulfillment. Another test beckons, one which prompts a major confrontation with Pikelet's father, who loathes the sea. There are places along the coast where the waves arrive with majestic presence, threatening to sweep all before them. Enter Sando, an experienced surfer with the calm assurance of one who can read the water. Taking Pikelet and Loonie as apprentice surfers, Sando reveals an entirely new and challenging world. Loonie, of course, is enthralled, learning quickly and responding to risk with near foolhardiness. Both endure their spills, but both want to achieve the highest success they can. Sando deftly urges them on, finally leading them to a site where the waves are big, a rock punctuates the sea, and a giant white shark is their sole observer. Loonie's exploits bring him closer to Sando than Pikelet can come to grips with. The distance between them grows as Loonie puts himself in increased jeopardy. For all Pikelet's disdain of his parents, a smashed body delivered at their front verandah is over the top. Another challenge presents itself in the form of Sando's wife, Eva. Not a surfer, she's a devotee of snow country, staging thrilling performances as an acrobatic skier. As eager to push the envelope as her husband, Eva has been sidelined by the combination of a bad accident and incompetent surgery. Pikelet is drawn to her, even at his young age, and the relationship unfolds in a bizarre manner. Winton builds the tension of this situation with unerring skill, balancing Pikelet's relations with Eva with his admiration of Sando and his competitive role with Loonie. Winton's a masterful writer with few peers. Compressing many elements into a brief story is a masterful example of his talents. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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