Breath by Tim Winton'On the wild, lonely coast of Western Australia, two thrillseeking 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? Why is their mentor’s past such forbidden territory? And what can explain his American wife’s peculiar behavior? Venturing beyond all limits—in relationships, in physical challenge, and in sexual behavior—there is a point where oblivion is the only outcome. Full of Winton’s lyrical genius for conveying physical sensation, Breath is a rich and atmospheric coming-of-age tale from one of world literature’s finest storytellers'.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
'Breath' reads like a memoir and it sucked me in so much I read till 3am just to get to the end. Once I clicked into the writing style (no quotation marks) I found myself really enjoying it, particularly the way Tim Winton can set a scene without wasting words. I had such clear images in my head as I read. It felt like home, even though I grew up in country NSW and the story is set in coastal WA. Those endless weeks of summer holidays, the freedom of setting off on your bike, the way the rest of the world was just on the periphery of your vision and you were the centre of the universe during those early teenage years. Tim Winton captures it perfectly.
There is a dark side here with risky behaviour and exploitation - but that is the whole premise of the story. It isn't really a book about surfing, rather it is about surviving into adulthood despite yourself, despite all those stupid things you did and despite the misplaced trust and admiration of people who should have known (and acted) better. It is about how becoming an adult really has little to do with age and lots to do with recognising your limits.
This is the first Tim Winton book I've read and I can confidently say I'll be visiting the 'WIN' shelf in the library again next time I'm there.