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Breath [Paperback]

Tim Winton
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 May 2009

Bruce Pike can hear the sea at night and longs to go to the shore. When he befriends Loonie, his small town’s wild boy, that dream is realized. Together, intoxicated by the treacherous power of the waves and by the immortality of youth, the two boys defy all limits and rules. Pikelet learns what it is to be extraordinary, feels exhilaration for the very first time, and – caught up in love and friendship and an erotic current he cannot resist – he understands the true meaning of fear. These are experiences that will far outlast his adolescence. How, then, to mask the emptiness of leaving such intensity behind?

‘An absorbing, powerful and deeply beautiful novel’ Observer

‘A love letter to the sea and a moving coming-of-age story . . . Rapturous’ Sunday Telegraph

Breath has the sensibility and reach of an epic’ Scotland on Sunday

‘Full of fizz and a vital poetry of sun, sand, sea and air’ Independent on Sunday

Breath has the urgent clarity of a story that needed to be told’ Guardian

Frequently Bought Together

Breath + Cloudstreet + Dirt Music
Price For All Three: 18.87

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  • Dirt Music 6.29

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (1 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330455729
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330455725
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 48,024 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


'Winton's way with a breaking wave shows off all the springy dash of his action-laden prose. Yet, much as Pikelet adores the sea, what lends Breath its buzz is the kid's rite-of-passage rendezvous with love and sex.'
-- Independent

A simple story effortlessly told, and deeply satisfying snapshot of growing up near the surf.
-- Huck


A simple story effortlessly told, and deeply satisfying snapshot of growing up near the surf.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, gripping and thoroughly satisfying 7 Aug 2009
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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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gnarly 16 May 2008
By emma who reads a lot TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Raw and evocative but left me cold 25 July 2009
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent 24 May 2010
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying and well worth the read. 11 Oct 2009
By The Web Crawler VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Listen up surfers! If you're not too busy hitting the waves then take some time out to read this wonderful tale of a boy's journey through adolesence. But what about us non-surfers? Still worth reading! The author Tim Winton has brought us a truely delightful read, telling us the tale of Pikelet, a young lost boy coming of age. The character development is superb all around and the consequences of such damage they inflict over the course of this tale really leave you feeling numb, perhaps hitting close to home for some readers. Reading Breath will engross you in the world of Pikelet and his friend Loonie and all their water riding antics. It's a ride you will enjoy, if not briefly. After all this book is only around 250 pages so it's over quickly, but nevertheless well worth it!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars High quality writing
The experiences of a young Australian guy growing up near the sea.

This book is a good example of high quality writing as it should be done. Read more
Published 3 months ago by X654103
3.0 out of 5 stars not just a book about surfing
I have no interest in surfing at all but I really engaged with the characters here. Pikelet is a complex character and it is more about his troubled teenage years and difficult... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Clogger
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing shallow here
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. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Philip Spires
3.0 out of 5 stars rather implausible
Having loved Cloudstreet and Dirt Music, I was a little disappointed with this one. Although the book was beautifully written, (as I have come to expect from Tim Winton), I found... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Sue H
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensual, elegiac, visceral.
As someone here pointed out, I don't usually write reviews about books that I've liked. So to try to change the trend I'll tell you, this book by Tim Winton completely took my... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Samantha Brightwell
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
One of the best books I have read which held my attention from start to finish, loved it and couldn't put it down
Published 8 months ago by ymb
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but not a subject of interest
OK but not that gripping. I would read another book by Winton as I found his style of writing easy to read.
Published 8 months ago by Manda Moo
3.0 out of 5 stars Breath
Probably great book for Surfers or 16-25 age group-ish well written -albeit with related jargon- but I was not interested enough in subjects.
Published 9 months ago by pmhutton
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and the closest to surfing I will ever get
Tim Winton's masterpiece, you are totally caught up in the language and the world portrayed. It is very Australian in language so some might find that challenging at first but... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Steffi in Oz
4.0 out of 5 stars I like it
The writing was excellent, but the story line is deeply deeply depressing. All the characters are poor souls or unpleasant personanlities which accounts for the pervading effect... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Liz
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