17 March, 2014

Book Review: Breath

From Goodreads:Tim Winton is Australia’s best-loved novelist. His new work,Breath, is an extraordinary evocation of an adolescence spent resisting complacency, testing one’s limits against nature, finding like-minded souls, and discovering just how far one breath will take you. It’s a story of extremes—extreme sports and extreme emotions.
On the wild, lonely coast of Western Australia, two thrillseeking and barely adolescent boys fall into the enigmatic thrall of veteran big-wave surfer Sando. Together they form an odd but elite trio. The grown man initiates the boys into a kind of Spartan ethos, a regimen of risk and challenge, where they test themselves in storm swells on remote and shark-infested reefs, pushing each other to the edges of endurance, courage, and sanity. But where is all this heading? Why is their mentor’s past such forbidden territory? And what can explain his American wife’s peculiar behaviour? Venturing beyond all limits—in relationships, in physical challenge, and in sexual behaviour—there is a point where oblivion is the only outcome. Full of Winton’s lyrical genius for conveying physical sensation, Breath is a rich and atmospheric coming-of-age tale from one of world literature’s finest storytellers.

Thoughts: In Breath, Tim Winton tells a breathtaking coming of age story. It's a story of testing yourself against nature, against your own fears, against the expectation of others. It's about living a life less ordinary , taking risks and accepting that sometimes, those risks aren't worth the reward.
Breath for me shows a new maturity for Winton. He's usual fluid writing style is there,. His seemingly simple descriptions deceptively complex. However, his main protagonist for once seems to have overcome the traumas of youth to some degree. The main character, Bruce "Piklet" Pike is tell the reader the story of his adolescence from the  wiser, more experienced stand point of middle age. While acknowledging the effect of events on his life, he doesn't seem to be running away from them or blaming them. Instead he accepts their role in making him who is in today and doesn't lurch from disaster to disaster.
Be warned though, Breath does take a rather startling and dark turn at some stage - a turn that unsettles many and may make you uncomfortable. The brilliance of Winton is that you may very well be deep in the darkness before you realise, and you continue to read, hoping he will eventually lead you out again.