BreathBook - 2008
We talked about skill and courage and luck--we shared all that, and in time we surfed to fool with death--but for me there was still the outlaw feeling of doing something graceful, as if dancing on water was the best and bravest thing a man could do.
The Times (UK) said it best: "Tim Winton is not just a great Australian novelist; he is a great novelist, full stop." Winton's astonishing and unforgettable new novel confirms this declaration. Set against the rugged coastal landscape of Western Australia that Winton has made his own, Breath is the story of a man remembering a boyhood defined by risk-taking and the legacy of fear and damage that remains.
Pikelet and Loonie are barely adolescents, but they're restless and addicted to extreme behaviour. They just love danger. Stuck in a sawmill town between forest and sea, they discover the power of the ocean and fall under the thrall of Sando, an older, enigmatic surfer whose devotion to risk is almost religious. Soon, all three--the guru and his two young disciples--are caught up in an escalating regimen of testing their nerve, surfing unimaginable storm swells and hazarding shark-infested reefs miles out to sea. Playing with death, pushing each other to the outermost boundaries of courage, endurance and sanity, the trio is pulled into an uneasy and increasingly disturbing bond that stretches to include Eva, Sando's puzzling wife. At the farthest edges of self, a young man comes face to face with the only logical outcome--oblivion.
Breath is a shattering work of fiction, a powerful coming-of-age novel that confirms Tim Winton's lyrical genius for evoking time and place, and for penetrating the darkest secrets of the heart.