Despite the fact that Tim Winton is one of Australia’s most highly regarded contemporary writers, I’d never read any of his books before this – I own a copy of Cloudstreet that my cousin gave to me, but I wasn’t particularly captivated by it.

Breath really is just as it’s title may suggest, a breath of fresh air. It’s a summer book; a coming-of-age story that winds around the experiences of Pikelet and his wild friend, Loonie. I thought this would be All About Surfing And Nothing Else At All, and that put me off at first, but I decided to read it anyway. I’m glad I did, because I found myself immersed in this book. Yes, it is a surfing story, but above all else, I think Breath is about the pursuit of life, of excitement and risk  – the pursuit of the extraodinary:

More than once since then I’ve wondered whether the life-threatening high jinks that Loonie and I and Sando and Eva got up to in the years of my adolescence were anything more than a rebellion against the monotony of drawing breath

The language apppears sparse at first, seeming only to touch upon the necessary, in abrupt bursts of sentences, but I soon realised that the prose flows richly because of its simplicity. I absolutely despised the ending. It was clever, it did tie everything together, it was an interesting conclusion, but it was still sort of disappointing. And I despised Eva, and her relationship with PIkelet, although I do realise that this was an integral part of the story.

I think I’ll be giving Cloudstreet another go.


4 thoughts on “Breath

  1. I didn’t despise the ending but thought Winton wrapped it up too quickly…Eva certainly was not a redeeming character. This book made me want to take up surfing.
    Do give Cloudstreet another crack – I loved it but it does have a little magic realism element to it, Dirt music is also good.

  2. Well, I wrote that I despised the ending because I didn’t want to write a spoiler, but what I hated was Eva’s kinky sex obsession, and the hanging. I just thought it was extremely creepy!

  3. I agree that Breath finished too quickly. It was a shame to feel hurried after reading the preceding well-crafted story. A small gripe tho, I loved it. More than any Winton I’ve read – but Lockie Leonard goes close!

    1. Nico – definitely! I wasn’t particularly interested in Pikelet’s adult life; it was his childhood that had me hooked, so the ending and beginning were just so-so. I need to read more Winton! I’ve heard good things about Dirt Music, but haven’t gotten around to buying a copy…

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