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 extreme surfing where they begin to live life on the edge that involves taking many risks.
An enjoyable read about growing up, taking risks and everyday discoveries and much This is the first novel I ve read by Tim Winton and it definitely won t be my last I have no hesitation in recommending this book.
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 Pikelet , the narrator, and his not quite all there buddy, Loonie and their boundary transgressing apprenticeship to a guru surfer legend, Sando The novel, like so many others of Winton s, is set in Western Australia amidst the beaches and fishing communities there Winton like few other living novelists captures with precision and particulars, the beauty and raw danger of the surf life Kem Nunn is the only one who comes close and the capacity for a young person of a certain type to be utterly transported, transformed and defined by acts of useless beauty Winton also has an eye for the seedy, subsistence living of the fishermen and other poor folk in the small seaside villages, for the ragged poetry of their messy, paltry lives There is a deep compassion at work here for these lives of quiet desperation that adds depth and an undergirding of wisdom to the macho posturing the suffuses the rituals of surfing He is a master of descriptive writing and his gruff dialogue never strikes a false note.
Loonie, Sando and Pikelet enter into a dark, complicated relationship, each boy vying for Sando s attention, each one receiving pride of place before being shunted aside Winton gets how much approval can mean to a boy coming from an older male of some prowess and how this can be manipulated into something warped and wrong Eventually Loonie becomes firmly ensconced as Sando s disciple and Pikelet is forced to enact his own private rituals of manhood, which he does to varying degrees of success He hooks up in an incredibly dark and lurid way with Sando s American wife here is a hint it ties in with the title and eventually breaks free to become his own troubled but self sufficient man Where Breath most resembles Winton s recent novels is in the present time sections that allows us to see Bruce fully grown, that show both his brokenness and his capacity for healing and being a healer Bruce has taken his addiction to adrenaline and made a vocation of it he s become a competent and effective paramedic His life is littered with broken relationships but also small instances of grace and joy He recounts what has happened to other characters in the book in a sad, sweet coda that is empty of rancor and hate despite the multiple abuses he suffered And that is truly Winton s greatest gift as a novelist recognizing that the only adults worth a holy fuck in this mad world are the ones that have had their heart broken once or twice and still move through this world with style and useless beauty even when they ve got duct tape left than organ in their aching chest.
5 starsSet 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 waves They like to push themselves, to test their limits, to take dangerous chances, to engage in unsafe behavior Throw in Sandor s wife, Eva who has her own issues and doesn t like being left alone while her husband is out surfing.
I wont say much so as to not give away too much but can I say, I thought this book was just about boys learning to surf and pushing themselves past their limits but it s about so much than that It s a coming of age tale but also it is about the choices we make and how those choices follow us throughout our lives This book is also about taking risks, the endorphin rush of doing extreme things, making discoveries, relationships, friendship, choices, dangerous behavior and growing up.
The title is quite clever as the book touches on Breathing in many ways the boys trying to hold their Breath under water for 2 minutes until they see stars, Bruce s father s snoring where Bruce observes his father doesn t Breath between snores, auto erotic asphyxiation, having the air knocked out of you by a wave, etc.
With the Australia vernacular and description of the waves and Ocean this is a very atmospheric book The book is also beautifully written with vivid description of surfing and the Ocean I can almost smell the sea air See of my reviews at www.
com 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 and extreme exploits When they ride to the coast on their bikes and see the local lads surfing they know they have to give it a try Before long they draw the attention of Sando Bill Sanderson a veteran surfer who takes them under his wing and encourages them to try and extreme surf It s the 70s and Sando and his American wife Eva are living a hippy lifestyle in a house set in the bush where Eva is also trying to overcome her own demons.
This story is many things It is a coming of age story for Pikelet and Loonie as they move through adolescence It is also about the attraction of extreme sport, the addiction to the endorphin and adrenalin rush that is hard to satisfy away from the sport and it is about the dangers of idolizing those who seem adventurous and attractive to us It also touches on how deviant sexual practices can warp a teenage boy s sexual awakening affecting his later life and relationships Although I grew up in WA and had several surfer friends, I have never been keen to try surfing but found myself enjoying Tim Winton s descriptions of how to forecast when the surf would be good, how to pick the best position for catching a wave and the exhilaration to be had riding the wave His writing is superb and his descriptions of the ever changing sea and the coast glorious.
jesus yikes winton is hit and miss for me and this wasn t it chief 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 them to go a little too far with it Sando s wife, Eva, was an extreme skier but now has a blown knee Consequently, she s bitter because her husband still gets to do what he loves and because he s not spending any time with her Breath is about pushing everything in life to the extreme to see how far one can go.
I m giving it 2 stars because Tim Winton is a good writer and I enjoyed all but the last fourth which totally ruined the whole thing for me Here s an example of a passage I did enjoy I will always remember my first wave that morning The smells of paraffin wax and brine and peppy scrub The way the swell rose beneath me like a body drawing in air How the wave drew me forward and I sprang to my feet, skating with the wind of momentum in my ears I leant across the wall of upstanding water and the board came with me as though it was part of my body and mind The blur of spray The billion shards of light I remember the solitary watching figure on the beach and the flash of Loonie s smile as I flew by I was intoxicated And though I ve lived to be an old man with my own share of happiness for all the mess I made, I still judge every joyous moment, every victory and revelation against those few seconds of living.
Being afraid, said Sando Proves you re alive and awake.
Tim Winton s modern classic of coming of age in the seventies in Western Australia, is almost lyrical in its imagery of seascapes and landscapes, and emotional turmoil The story follows teenager Bruce Pike Pikelet from adolescent bravado through to middle age, risk averse melancholy With his best friend Loonie, the teenage Pike falls in with enigmatic adrenaline junkies Sando, riding the illusive wave, and his American wife Eva The first sun gave the water a benign sheen and for a few moments there was nothing to see, little enough for a swoon of relief to course through me I was, I thought, off the hook And then a mile out I saw the sudden white flare A plume of spray lifted off the bommie like the dust kicked up by a convoy of log trucks and after a second s delay the sound of it reached us Now that was a noise to snap a boy out of his dreamy sense of wellbeing.
I was never much interested in surfing and those movies with the pounding heavy metal riffs proved a turn off And yet I was mesmerised Felt the icy cold water, heard the pounding of the surf, saw the imagery rocks bearded in lichen as if I standing there myself The exhilaration, pain and fear as pages seemed to turn themselves.
One of the finest books I have read this year, made the so by the sparse style Winton makes little use of italics, punctuation is reduced to full stops period to our friends from across the Pacific , the odd question mark and apostrophe no inverted commas to separate dialogue from narrative the dialogue short, pithy and authentically Australian, or Eva s Utah drawl The words flow effortlessly Verdict sheer brilliance.
Bruce Pike, Or Pikelet , Has Lived All His Short Life In A Tiny Sawmilling Town From Where The Thundering Sea Can Be Heard At Night He Longs To Be Down There On The Beach, Amidst The Pounding Waves, But For Some Reason His Parents Forbid Him It S Only When He Befriends Loonie, The Local Wild Boy, That He Finally Defies ThemIntoxicated By The Treacherous Power Of The Sea And By Their Own Youthful Endurance, The Two Boys Spurn All Limits And Rules, And Fall Into The Company Of Adult Mentors Whose Own Addictions To Risk Take Them To Places They Could Never Have Imagined Caught Up In Love And Friendship And An Erotic Current He Cannot Resist, Pikelet Faces Challenges Whose Effects Will Far Outlast His Adolescence Breath Is The Story Of Lost Youth Recollected Its Attractions, Its Compulsions, Its Moments Of Heartbreak And Of Madness A Young Man Learns What It Is To Be Extraordinary, How To Push Himself, Mind And Body, To The Limit In Terrible Fear And Exhilaration, And How To Mask The Emptiness Of Leaving Such Intensity In Love And In Life BehindTold With The Immediacy And Grace So Characteristic Of Tim Winton, Breath Is A Mesmeric Novel By A Writer At The Height Of His Powers