Breath opens with Bruce Pike, now a paramedic, arriving too late to save a teenage boy's life.
Pike's partner wonders why the boy killed himself. Pike knows he didn't. He doesn't know the boy, but he knows the story. He still lives with the legacy of his own adolescence.
When Loonie and Pike started to surf, they cycled from Angelus to the beach with their Styrofoam boards, buffeted by the wind and, when they finally get to the sea, the waves. They couldn't help it: they were terrified; they were addicted.
Among the local surfers, one guy stood out. He turned up alone, when the swell was highest, and left the rest of them for dead. Gradually Loonie and Pike got to know this loner, Sando, who took them under his wing, showing them secret beaches and ever-bigger waves. He taught them about surfing, and about life. But the sea can teach the hard way, and so could Sando. In the endless search for the biggest wave, the biggest high, some riders don't make it. Half a lifetime later, Pike can't free himself from where the ride took him.
With Breath, Tim Winton's writing has attained a new level of mastery. This book confirms his standing alongside Ian McEwan and Philip Roth as one of the major chroniclers of the human condition, a writer of novels that are at the same time simple and profound.
©2008 Tim Winton; (P)2008 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd.
This is a terrific book - short but with not a word wasted. It's clearly expressed but poetic and mesmerising. It's a coming of age book about a hippy surfer who 'disciples' two teenagers, involving them in increasingly dangerous stunts where the adrenaline rush becomes a drug. I am not interested in surfing but the attraction of this book is the compelling story (I couldn't stop listening in the second half) and the fascinating characters. The narrator is absolutely excellent. I can't recommend this highly enough.
Books for Fun and Life
I really like Tim Winton's "The Riders" but this isn't anywhere near as appealing a tale. I quite liked the surfing part of the story; something I knew nothing about. But it feels like it's a book going nowhere. There is no real build-up, no reveal, just a daily trudge through someone's not very interesting life.
The narration was poor. The Australian accent was very nearly monotone and lacked any sort of pace and variety. His very audible breathing was annoying as heck. Not sure what sort of studio set-up he used to record the book in, but his breathing was so distracting.
On the whole, this was a very mediocre audio book.
Prof of Global Health & Development - wide interests, fiction & non-, politics, justice & rights, culture & food, travel, art & creativity
Enjoyable listen, engagingly read. Highlights the adrenaline joys of surfing and the comaraderie and competition inherent in tightly bonded units always looking for the next conquest. Wonderful descriptions of the surf and beach and vegetation against a background of growing up, developing meaningful relationships, finding sexual satisfaction, gaining independence and creating distance from parents and 'home'. Very Aussie.
"Powerful coming-of-age story"
This powerful new book by Australian author Tim Winton describes a lonely boy's painful coming of age. He is befriended, and ultimately damaged, by a couple fighting the loss of youth and their aging bodies. This is ultimately a book about survival through extremes, of pushing one's body and one's morals beyond what is "average" and experiencing both the exhilaration and self-disgust that comes from doing so. Listening to the book through the narrator's authentic Australian voice added a lot to the book. I wouldn't recommend this book to all my friends, but I would to those who like a story beautifully written with an edgy and difficult morality. I've never surfed, but Winton conveys the power and beauty of the sea and what it's like to try and conquer your own fears.
Great story. Wonderful writing. Great narration. I just loved this book. Tim Winton's writing is so evocative and well crafted that you can taste the salt and feel the danger. As much as I loved Cloud Street, I feel that this is a better book. As masterful book by a craftsman at the top of his game.
"narration made it."
I liked it though didn't love it. It's not for everyone. Tim Winton does encapsulate the Aussie surfer culture very well, and I can relate to the lifestyle. It is quite a thoughtful coming of age story. The narrator Dan Whyle is fantastic. I am grateful I listened.
It made me regret going so long without surfing. The surfing prose and writing of the surfing experience is brilliant. The narrator gives the feeling that we are really listening to a first-hand account. I do hope that he narrates more books from that region of earth again.
"For those that love surfing and the sea."
I purchased this book because I had just finished Tim Winton's Cloudstreet which I absolutely adored. Maybe this is why I was a bit disappointed as I was looking for something like Cloudstreet but it was very different.
For those who love surfing and the thrill of riding waves this book captures that beautifully. I liked the story inbetween these scenes but not enough to enjoy this book as much as others.
Great book! Lots of complex relationships & the surging story line is awesome (for those of us that don't and never will!)
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys well crafted literature. He is a very powerful writer, along the lines of John Fowles, A.S. Byatt and Sebastian Falkes.
I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who is easily upset. His descriptions of painful experiences are alarmingly vivid and true.
I loved the deep feeling of honesty that runs through the book. This is clearly fiction, but the narrator's voice is so authentic.
Dan Wyllie's performance was stunning. He matched the mood of the book perfectly.
Yes, this book moved me deeply. I have listened to it several times since I first downloaded it.
"I breathed it.."
I have had the pleasure of hearing Tim Winton reading his own work more than once but Dan Wyllie was equal to the task.
Author and narrator crafted a listen that held me fast all the way until I was rung out, breathless when the last wave broke.
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