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Breath

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  13,121 Ratings  ·  1,177 Reviews
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 Australi
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Paperback, 247 pages
Published 2009 by Picador (first published May 27th 2008)
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Boy Blue I think different Winton novels appeal to different people, as is the case with all books. I have one friend (who is an adrenaline junkie and surfer)…moreI think different Winton novels appeal to different people, as is the case with all books. I have one friend (who is an adrenaline junkie and surfer) who this really echoes with and another (who was never very outdoorsy or active growing up) who found it boring and gave up halfway through. I also think this story will resonate a lot more with men who grew up in similar situations than anyone else and in that sense the total audience who will love this book is much smaller than for many of his other works. While Breath is both beautiful and disturbing, Cloudstreet is definitely his magnum opus and his best and The Turning is probably the best way to sample his writing to see if you like it. (less)
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Suzanne
I have to be honest in full disclosure to state outright that my vein celebrity interest in a certain Aussie actor happened me upon this book. And I’m so glad I did. It looks like I have a lot of great reading ahead of me, as this is my first Tim Winton novel. I think I need to hang my head low on admitting this one!

I listened to the audio version, narrated by a very capable and very smooth voiced Australian actor Dan Wyllie. This smoothness was the perfect pairing to the book.

This particular b
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Debra
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

Set in Western Australia, Breath is about a man, Bruce who is a paramedic who is looking back on his life - specifically when he was a teenager and he and his friend, Loonie used to dare each other to do dangerous things. First their stunts take place in a river near where they live then they take to surfing. There they meet and older surfer, named Sandor who also likes taking risks. Sandor grudgingly at first takes them under his wing and soon the boys and Sandor are a trio hitting the
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Sharon
Jun 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paramedic, Bruce Pike (Pikelet) and his partner have been called out to an emergency involving a teenager. Whilst attending to the teenager, Bruce now aged in his fifties thinks back to his own teenage years.

Pikelet grew up in the 1970's in a mill town in Western Australia it is here that he becomes friends with Ivan Loon (Loonie).
The pair spend their days surfing which is when they meet, Sando (Bill Sanderson) and his wife Eva. Sando takes them under his wing and teaches them more extreme surfi
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D. Pow
Jul 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Breath continues Tim Winton’s string of strong novels and story collections. While it isn’t quite as good as The Riders or Dirt Music or the incomparable Cloudstreet, it is a worthwhile read, full of dark impulses and sudden flashes of grace and light. Like Riders and Music, Breath deals with a middle-aged protagonist whose life has turned to ashes and bone shards, unlike those two novels the primary concern is this man’s coming of age told in retrospective.

The bulk of the novel concerns Bruce(P
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Carolyn
Tim Winton’s ‘Breath’ is like a long powerful wave building slowly, then breaking and crashing down to cause chaos in it's wake. It is the story of two adolescent surfers taken in tow by a veteran surfer and gradually introduced to extreme surfing and how this eventually impacts on and shapes their future lives.

Pikelet (Bruce Pike) and Loonie (Ivan Loon) are both lonely misfits in a small timber town near the coast who befriend each other one summer swimming at the river and dare each other to m
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Shirley Marr
Despite hailing from Western Australia myself, I have never read any of Living State Treasure Tim Winton’s work. Shocking I know. So I thought it about time… although I’m not including the dabble I had in primary school with The Bugalugs Bum Thief, which I don’t think counts... So Breath it is. I am sure that many people will tell me this is perhaps not the best point to start, that maybe I should read the popular ones Cloudstreet or Dirt Music first, but as far as I’m concerned, this book along ...more
✨    jamieson   ✨
jesus yikes.
never has a book i was enjoying taken such a sharp downward plunge like this book did but jesus fucking christ

bitch what the fuck did i just read.jpg

(people know 15 year olds sleeping with adults 10+ years older then them is weird & Very Bad right??? I just need to know yall know this)
1morechapter
Ugh. I thought this was about a teen boy surfing in Australia. I wanted it to be about a teen boy surfing in Australia. And it was, for about 150 pages, then it goes off into a weird and extreme area that I will not mention here. I feel ripped off because I enjoyed the first 3/4 of the book, but then to have to be subjected to…blech.

Pikelet and Loonie are two teenage boys obsessed with surfing. They meet up with Sando, a guy in his mid 30’s who coaches them in the sport and sometimes encourages
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Kim
Nov 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Tim Winton has beguiled me into loving a novel which deals with two subjects that don't interest me at all: teenage male angst and surfing as an extreme sport. The subject matter is why I didn't read the novel when it was first published and it probably would have remained forever unread had I not embarked on a Tim Winton kick after reading The Turning: Stories and his latest novel Eyrie. I listened to the audiobook edition, which was very capably narrated by Australian actor Dan Wyllie.

While t
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★ Jess
I am lost for words. I have absolutely no idea what to think right now.
Was the plot intriguing or painfully realistic? Was the writing lyrical or stupid? Was the ending disgusting or heartbreaking?
I think that I will 'like it'. It was, after all, the most unique book Ive read in ages, probably ever.
It is certainly not what I expected, though still enjoyable. The four lead characters are amazing, proving to easily be the strength of this book. Each is unique. Each is exciting and un-predictabl
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Sam
Mar 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've just finished this book in one sitting ... I woke up and in an attempt to get back to sleep I picked this up ... I'll be paying for that decision today - but not regretting it for a second ...

Put aside for minute that I'm probably biased - Tim Winton is a Perth boy and he's set this story in a place that feels familiar and that is well loved by this chick ... but I'm lying here in bed in the city & I can smell the beach ... my shoulders are tingling with sunburn from an age ago and my e
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Colleen Fauchelle
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-books
review to come.
Jennifer
May 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-books
I really, really loved this novel of two Australian teenage boys and their obsession with a has-been 70's surfing guru and his angry, bitter young wife. The surfing descriptions made my heart pound, and the narrative builds and breaks just like a wave, from a slow, thoughtful beginning to a tension filled climax that crashes down into a boiling, foaming conclusion. I loved what Winton had to say about the nature of obsession, of what it means to be a man, and the fragility of relationships based ...more
Philippe
Oct 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
At the heart of this brilliant coming of age story sits the destructive conflict between pure exaltation and asphyxiating defilement. The young mind should not, cannot deal with these two extremes when they are tied to the same time, place, practice and personalities. The result can only be an utter wreckage. Winton’s prose evokes this tension between light and darkness to chilling effect. A wonderful, very disturbing novel.
Philip
Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Breath by Tim Winton is a deceptively complex novel wrapped in an apparently simple tale. On one level it might be a story about surfing. It isn’t. On another level, it’s a straightforward coming-of-age novel, where an adolescent lad is introduced to the tingling realities of maturity. But it is more than this. Breath might also be about small town lives, the limits of friendship, or our ability to seek gratification by selfishly exploiting circumstance. Equally, it might be about the relentless ...more
Roxann
Feb 16, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It makes me so sad to give this book only two stars. Winton is one of my favorite Australian writers. The first 3/4 of this book is brilliant - two young teenage boys learning to surf in Western Australia in the early 70's, pushing their limits in increasingly extreme ways in a time before extreme sports was part of the vernacular. The writing is so brilliant, so evocative and descriptive, that I wish I had tried to learn to surf. It's almost better than being there - I can see the waves, feel t ...more
Deborah Ideiosepius
Brilliant! I loved every page of this book.

We start with Bruce Pike, an older paramedic in WA, called out to a teenage adventure gone wrong. The scene brings back memories of his teenage years and we scroll back through his memories to his childhood and adolescence not far from the WA coast, in a small rural town.

The scenario is simple but the storytelling is mesmerising and the writing is superb. I was totally immersed in this book even before we hit the coast and we travel along with Bruce as
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Jaimal
Jan 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Breath is a masterfully written tale of what it means to live in extremes; and since most of us, in our own ways, do, it’s a tale about what it means to be alive.

I’m ashamed to say that I only heard of Tim Winton when a blogger recently wrote that Saltwater Buddha: a surfer's quest to find Zen on the sea reminded him of Winton’s surf literature. I am now very honored to be mentioned in his company.

A novelist with a voice no one could copy, Winton’s ability to be colloquial while employing phras
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Breath is set in 1970s Western Australia. Pikelet and Loonie, two adolescent boys, are at first brought closer together by their love of surfing and free diving. Ultimately, it drives them apart as they compete for the approval of Sando, a daredevil veteran surfer who basks in their admiration and delights in challenging them with ever greater dangers.

This is not so much a coming-of-age tale as it is a coming awake tale. Pikelet gradually comes to see the bitter reality of the people he idolize
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Shawn Mooney
Apr 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
This was my first by Winton, and did I ever love the writing! In sentences that spark and burst, he tells the story of two Australian teen boys' enmeshment with an older hippie couple. I'd have thought the surfing scenes would bore me to tears: in fact, they were exquisite. The sharp turn near the end of the story was jarring, and a little disappointing. But still a rich, rewarding 4-star read. I am eager to read a lot more by him.
Suzie
*Full disclosure: I am NOT a TW fan, and only read this because it is this month's choice for my book club*
Didn't much like this book but I didn't dislike it enough to chuck it after my self-imposed "50 pages or it's gone" rule, hence the 2 stars. Some of the surfing description I found a bit boring and repetitive, and I really hated the "twist" which seemed to be shoved in there along with a few later comments in order to link back to the story's beginning. This book is not for me, but I manag
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Trevor
Dec 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australian, own-copy
Absolutely loved this book.

This coming of age story is wonderfully written, but is about so much more than that. It's about living life to the full, not being afraid, taking risks and above all finding out who you are as a person.

The background of surfing and the sea is not one that I am overly familiar with, but the descriptions that Tim Winton brings to them, makes them alive and real - you can hear and feel the surf and waves; and when the boys get caught in the rip you live the danger and fe
...more
Diane S ☔
3.5 Very first Winton book I have read and I found it fascinating. Coming of age story of two boys who find a mentor in the risk taking Sandor. Very atmospheric book, the descriptions of the waves, surfing and the reefs made me realize how much I miss the ocean. Very emotive writing style, may just have to read another by this author to experience another example of his writing.
Richard
Dec 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Took me a while to get into this but it was worth persevering with. The first half has way too much only about surfing for my taste. The second half was more easy to relate to and much better.
Nancy Oakes
Mar 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tim Winton has long been one of my favorite authors, and he hasn't let me down yet. His novel Breath won the 2009 Miles Franklin award, beating out its competition: Wanting by Richard Flanagan, The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (both of which I've read) Ice by Louis Nowra (which I own but haven't yet read), and The Pages by Murray Bail. In Breath he explores a number of topics, none the least of which is the choice between whether it is better to live an "ordinary" life or to walk on the wild side a ...more
Jay
Apr 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read “Breath” in January 2010. My second reading only confirmed the strength of Winton’s 2008 novel, at this time the most recent of his works. It is clear that Tim Winton continues at the top of his form. His language is extraordinary—poetic, strong, evocative, fresh, creative. For example, in “Breath”, the narrator (Bruce Pike) describes the impact of a charismatic surfer (Bill Sanderson) on him as an emerging adolescent: “Being with him was like standing near a lethal electric current ...more
Ken
Feb 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Setting: the rugged coastline of western Australia and the beautiful (shark-infested) waters off of it.

Characters: Pikelet (14-yr-old protagonist, sensible, conservative, wide-eyed and taking it all in)

Loonie (Pikelet's dangerous sidekick, the type of "friend" who leads you to two places more often than not: Dangerous and Forbidden)

Sando (36-year-old Laird Hamilton-type, surfing legend who still surfs and hangs out for "a living"; guru and mentor to the boys)

Eva (Sando's younger American wife wh
...more
Connie
In this coming-of-age book, two lonely boys challenge each other to push the limits along the coast of Western Australia. It starts with contests holding their breath underwater, then progresses to surfing. Sando, an expert surfer, acts as their mentor as they conquer more difficult waves. The adrenalin just pours out of the pages as the young surfers take bigger risks for the high sensation of riding a perfect wave. "When you make it, when you're still alive and standin' at the end, you get thi ...more
Danny
Aug 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a feeling it is to add new vernacular to the reader's toolbox because of a gifted writer like Tim Winton. Forgive the bad pun, but Winton can really breathe succorous gulps of breath into the lungs of English. His characters are diving from normalcy through extreme sport and a wealth of sensual information. Pikelet, our narrator, restores honour to melancholic reminiscences by describing for readers the adrenaline infused pleasures of his adolescence spent swimming, surfing, shagging, and c ...more
Terri Jacobson
This coming of age story is about 2 young men on the west coast of Australia who fall in with an older man who was once a world-renowned surfer. The book tells their story as they slowly become friends and begin to surf in increasingly dangerous waters. It is a test of endurance and manhood, and the boys grow up very quickly. On the surface, this doesn't sound like a book I would be interested in. However, this book blew me away. The prose is musical, the descriptions delightful, and the underly ...more
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Screen & Page: Breath by Tim Winton 2 1 Jun 18, 2018 04:58PM  
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Tim Winton was born in Perth, Western Australia, but moved at a young age to the small country town of Albany.

While a student at Curtin University of Technology, Winton wrote his first novel, An Open Swimmer. It went on to win The Australian/Vogel Literary Award in 1981, and launched his writing career. In fact, he wrote "the best part of three books while at university". His second book, Shallows
...more
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“It’s how I fill the time when nothing’s happening. Thinking too much, flirting with melancholy.” 108 likes
“It's funny, but you never really think much about breathing. Until it's all you ever think about.” 23 likes
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