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"Breath contains wonderful descriptions of the ocean, surfing, rivalry between mates, and small-town life. The novel is beautifully written and vintage Winton . . . Breath is gripping . . . Breath breaks new literary ground and may well become an Australian classic . . . Winton writes about surfing with an insider's knowledge and an unparalleled lyrical beauty, and Breath might be the first great surfing novel"—Nathanael O'Reilly, Antipodes
"Two thrill-seeking boys, Bruce and Loonie, are young teenagers in small town Australia, circa the early 1970s. Their attraction is focused on the water-ponds, rivers, the sea—but they do little more than play around until they fall in with a mysterious, older man named Sando. He recognizes their daredevil wildness and takes it upon himself to teach them to surf. As the boys become more skilled, their exploits become more reckless; narrator Bruce (nicknamed 'Pikelet') has doubts about where all this is heading, while the aptly named Loonie wants only bigger and bolder thrills. This mix of doubt and desire intensifies when the boys make a discovery about their mentor's past . . . As Sando's attentions and favor flip-flop from one boy to the other, the rivalry between the two, present from the beginning, grows stronger and more sinister. Sando's American wife, Eva . . . walks with a limp, has plenty of secrets of her own and becomes increasingly involved in Pikelet's life, in ways that even a 15-year-old might recognize as not entirely appropriate. Winton's language, often terse, never showy, hovers convincingly between a teenager's inarticulateness and the staccato delivery of a grown man . . . The language manages to summon up both the uncertain teenager and the jaded adult . . . Breath aims to recapture a long-passed episode in a boy's life and show how this shaped the man he grew into. The story contemplates what it means to be less ordinary in an era when 'extreme' sports hadn't even been recognized. (The fear of being ordinary is one of the terrors that drives these daredevils to push themselves ever further) . . . [Winton] touches upon important themes, of death, life, breathing and its absence, while looking dispassionately upon the relentless pursuit of thrills, pleasure, sex, status: the mundane obsessions of the ordinary and extraordinary alike."—David Maine, Publishers Weekly
"Two boys, two boards, and a roiling surf. It might sound like heaven, but it doesn't work out that way in this engrossing new book from noteworthy Australian author Winton. The narrator, Bruce Pike ('Pikelet'), is an awkward young teenager in the isolated coastal town of Sawyer when he befriends a troublemaker named Loonie. Riding the waves together (often at the expense of school), the two strike up a friendship with a freewheeling older man named Sando who, they eventually discover, was a surfing champion now living off the beaten path with an embittered American wife—herself a leading snowboarder waylaid by serious injury. The gurulike Sando leads the boys on to ever-riskier surfing venues, and when Bruce finally chickens out, he's left behind to launch a damaging affair with Sando's wife . . . Winton is pitch perfect in capturing (but not exploiting) adolescent angst, and he describes surfing and the sea so thrillingly."—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
"Sun, surf and the 1970s Down Under provide the backdrop for the story of a boy's awakening through rough sex. Paramedic Bruce Pike and his partner answer a medical emergency call at a suburban home. In a bedroom crowded with rock-star and hot-chick posters, Bruce finds the body of a 17-year-old boy who appears to have committed suicide. But Bruce, a middle-aged dad, knows better, and the narrative turns back to his adolescence to explain how he knows. Australian author Winton offers a tight narrative notable for its empathetic characters and effectively spare use of shock . . . Period details like Eva's Captain Beefheart and Ravi Shankar records add verisimilitude, and Winton handles youthful angst like a hipper John Knowles. Lyricism empowers this stoner rite-of-passage saga, which also conveys a timeless pathos."—Kirkus Reviews
A book trailer for Australian author Tim Winton's novel, Breath.