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Breath Hardcover – 2 May 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 146 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; First Edition edition (2 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330455710
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330455718
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 21.6 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 430,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tim Winton was born in Perth in 1960. He has written novels, collections of stories, non-fiction and books for children. He is four times winner of Australia's Miles Franklin Award, most recently for his novel Breath, and has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, for The Riders (1995) and Dirt Music (2002).

Product Description


'...a meditation on surfing which becomes a rumination about the very stuff of existence.' -- Observer

'...truly moments of perfection - scenes of life-affirming exhilaration that even the darkness of the undertow cannot completely erase' -- Herald

'A superb novel by the always brilliant Tim Winton...exciting, beautifully written.' -- The Bookseller

'A terrific novel... Suddenly the allure of the perfect wave is understandable.'
-- Readers' Books of the Year - The Guardian

'Australia's best-loved novelist...Breath is both a love letter to the sea and a moving coming-of-age story...' -- Sunday Telegraph

'Breath is a book that swaps earth for water. It is a short, fresh work, full of fizz...' -- Independent on Sunday

'Breath is an innocent, lyrical celebration of masculinity and physical prowess of a kind that is rare in British fiction.' -- Sunday Times, Culture

'Breath...has the urgent clarity of a story that needed to be told' -- Guardian

'The opening sequence is so beautiful that the narrative appears to promise a tale of boyhood revisited...' -- Irish Times

'Winton is at his lyrical best with his poignant story of lost youth...' -- She


"Darkly exhilarating." (The New York Times Book Review)

"Tender, incisive, sometimes brutal and always moving coming-of-age novel." (The Seattle Times)

"Winton is pitch perfect in capturing (but not exploiting) adolescent angst, and he describes surfing and the sea so thrillingly that even non-swimmers will want to plunge right in." (Library Journal)

"Tim Winton's newest novel offers an irresistible taste of oceanic communion." (Los Angeles Times)

"This slender book packs an emotional wallop... Winton is well-known in Australia and should be here." (Publishers Weekly)

"Winton's latest novel is both a hymn to the beauty of flying on water and a sober assessment of the costs of losing one's balance, in every sense of the word." (The New Yorker)

"The new novel from the twice "Booker" shortlisted author. Bruce Pike has always been forbidden to go down to the beach but when he meets Loonie, the local wild boy, he defies his parents and discovers the wild joys of surfing and an erotic current that he can't resist. An absorbing, powerful and deeply beautiful novel." (The Observer)

"This aptly titled novel knocks the breath out of the listener as it recounts a youth's daredevil surfing exploits, evoking the fragile balance between life and death. Paramedic Bruce Pike looks back in this coming-of-age story of his thrill-seeking youth in 1970s Australia. He and his friend, Loonie, meet a charismatic surfing legend named Sando, who mentors them in the science and art of surfing, and drives them to more and more reckless behavior. Dan Wyllie delivers an easily understandable Australian accent and shifts subtly between tentative teen and jaded adult. Wyllie's delivery of Winton's vivid descriptions is mesmerizing, and he ably conveys the image of breath as a metaphor throughout the story. This compelling novel may entice the listener to seek out the well-known Australian author's many other works." (AudioFile Magazine) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is the fourth Tim Winton novel I've read and is certainly as enjoyable as the likes of Cloudstreet, The Riders or Dirt Music. If anything, in each successive work Winton seems to further refine his amazing ability to write so sparsely and yet convey so much. In particular, the opening section of this novel lasts for just a few pages and yet immediately paints a devastating portrait which, when you stop to think about it, has mostly been painted by you in your own mind as it expanded on the brief but perfect promptings of the text. The mark of a master novelist.

The story takes place in an Australian coastal town dominated by its sawmill and not much else. Two bored teenagers become friends and then fall in with an older man who turns out to be a world-class surfer. As the narrative develops, there are numerous accounts of surfing adventures which, on the face of it, could grow tedious - and yet, once again, the precision with which Winton describes the moods of the ocean, and the exhiliration and danger experienced by those who seek out the big waves, leaves you with a very real picture.

It's almost like watching a movie and it builds to a tense climax and then cleverly brings you back to the beginning. I won't go into specifics as I don't want to spoil it for anybody. In short, this is one of those books that is hard to put down, which you live whilst you read it and which leaves you with a satisfying sense of having learnt something you can't define. Very, very good.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I very much enjoyed Tim Winton's first novel Cloud Street and his talent for the written word is no less breathtaking in this book. However, the book didn't grip me as much as Cloud Street: perhaps because I am not remotely interested in surfing and a lot of the book *is* about that! However, Winton's depiction of a young rather lost boy, Pikelet, is excellent; the trauma of adolesence, particularly when Pikelet becomes involved with his mentor's wife, is described perfectly. The characters are very real, and the damage which the elders inflict unwittingly on the minors makes the reader wince. As cleverly and perceptively written as the last, but because the novel centres around surfing it lost me a little. I would however certainly purchase another book by this author.
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Format: Paperback
This is a magnificent book. I'm not interested in surfing, per se, but I'm very interested in great writing and Breath is full of first-class prose. The story is of a teenage boy, Pikelet, growing up in Western Australia, and the drama and tragedy of a few months in his 15th year. This story, with four main characters - Pikelet, Loonie, Sando and Eva - is powerful and atmospheric, a journey through intense friendship and loss and one of the most heart-breaking and vivid accounts of first love and first sexual experience you're ever likely to read. I can't rate this book highly enough. It's astonishingly good and no wonder it won the Miles Franklin Award in 2009, one of Australia's most prestigious awards for writing. But where was the Man Booker? Another example of a great book that hasn't received the plaudits it deserves outside the writer's native country. I'm so glad that a good friend with excellent taste put a copy of Breath in my hand. I'm going to buy up all of Winton's books and tell everybody what a great writer he is.
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By emma who reads a lot TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 16 May 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is the best book I've ever read about surfing. But apart from that, it's also a beautiful novel about how you grow up to be the person you are, and what experiences make you; and the descriptions of the natural landscape of Australia are gawpingly gorgeous.

Everything I found frustrating about Peter Carey's last book was made exactly right in this stunning book from Tim Winton. I already loved his writing on the basis of Dirt Music, where he was preoccupied with a coastal Australian town similar to Sawyer (I don't think the name can be an accident, as the book is all about boys' adventures). We hear the story from Pikelet's point of view, a lonely young boy on the fringes of growing up, who makes friends with a bit of a danger merchant called Loonie.

Winton's characters are often self-sufficient loners who can't talk about their feelings, and reading him dealing with the technical problems of writing down the thoughts of someone fairly inarticulate is impressive on its own.

But add in the power Winton has to describe the ocean in all its different moods, glassy on a calm day, deafening in a swell, and all the tensions of boyhood relationships moving into being a young man... And then the meditation which runs all the way through about the human ability to take risks in life, and what the desire for risk and adventure means.

Quietly moving, faultlessly written, gets right into your heart.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Bruce `Pikelet' Pike is a young boy growing up in an old-fashioned Australian town. He chafes against the stuffy and unexciting lifestyle of his parents and their peers, but is only when he befriends local wild boy `Loonie' that he breaks out and discovers the joys of surfing. And when Pikelet and Loonie are taken under the wing of older surfer Sando, they learn the joy of pushing oneself to the limit, and challenging all boundaries.

By the time I got around to reading this novel, I couldn't remember what had attracted me to it in the first place- I'm certainly not interested in surfing, and the idea of an entire book based around it sounded more than a little dull. Fortunately, I put aside my reservations for long enough to get started, and before I knew it, I was hooked. An involving character piece, Breath goes deep into the psychology of the surfer, pushing its protagonists to ever greater extremes and seeing who thrives under the pressure, and who pulls back from the brink.

Unfortunately, whilst the surfing part of the story is surprisingly absorbing, the book does lose momentum a little towards the end, with the focus switching rather sharply to Pikelet's relationship with Sando's wife Eva. At this point, the story feels like little more than padding, ending with a slightly abrupt conclusion to everything that had come before. Even so, the bulk of the novel is so good that I can forgive it for slipping a little at the end.

Overall, this is one novel I can certainly recommend- even if you aren't into surfing, there is plenty of good material here. Once you get swept along by its compulsively readable style, you'll be glad you gave it a chance.
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