Breath, by Tim Winton

It’s funny, but you never think much about breathing. Until it’s all you ever think about.

Pikelet (Bruce Pike) and Loonie are in different classes at school, but when they discover a mutual interest in thrill seeking, they become inseparable friends. They flirt with danger – holding their breath under water, playing chicken with trucks, and with knives – but when they discover the surf they realise they’ve found the biggest thrill of all.

As they learn to surf they are befriended by an older surfer, Sando, who becomes their mentor and introduces them to the risk and excitement of big wave surfing. But as they grow, and the risks become bigger, their friendship is strained. Pikelet learns that fear can be a good thing, and, while the other two are off travelling without him, he also learns the importance of breathing, when he becomes involved in a confusing relationship with Sando’s wife, Eva.

Breath is yet another masterpiece from award winning author Tim Winton, likely to leave the reader breathless as it explores the complexities of friendship, risk taking, relationships and self identity. Pikelet seems an honest narrator, telling the events of his late childhood and teenage years from the perspective of an adult looking back. At times he interprets or comments on these events, so that we become aware of his adult self.

For lovers of surfing and adventure sports, the surfing scenes will be a delight, and for those who have not engaged in such things, Winton provides an insight into the thought processes of thrill seekers. But, while the surfing scenes are significant, this is much more than a book about surfing, and will leave the reader thinking about matters of existence and purpose.

Great stuff.


Breath, by Tim Winton
Penguin, 2008

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