Tim Winton Watch #1

I go away for a week and a "big" Australian book is published. Breath is Tim Winton's first novel in seven years, and was always going to be a big publishing event.

Reviews of Breath

Kerryn Goldsworthy, in "The Australian": "Winton is so accomplished and experienced a writer by now that his finely honed technical skills are practically invisible...The allegorical level of the story does not intrude on, or protrude from, the literal level, and you subconsciously absorb the rich haul of ideas about parenthood, friendship, breathing and damage, rather than having them spelled out for you. Nothing is oversimplified; even the unbearably sad notion of growing up as the loss or withdrawal of grace, however much it might underlie this book, isn't the last or the only word." Kerryn followed up this review with a post on her weblog which also refers to a review of the novel by James Ley in "Australian Book Review". Unfortunately the Ley review isn't up on the "ABR" website but Kerryn says enough about it that you really should go out and buy a copy.

The "ABR" issue also includes an excerpt from a James Ley review of TheTurning from 2004. Further discussion between Kerryn and Genevieve Tucker ensues on the "reeling and writing" weblog.

Andrew Reimer in "The Sydney Morning Herald": "This short novel may prove to be the best thing Tim Winton has done. He made a name for himself with three generously paced and intricate novels: Cloudstreet, The Riders and Dirt Music. Nevertheless, his finest accomplishments seem to me to reside in more compressed structures: his earlier novels and the loosely linked stories in The Turning. There, as in this marvellously atmospheric work, Winton's particular gifts come into their own...The novel's complexity is poetic, psychological and ethical. Winton's descriptions of changing seas and changing seasons are outstanding...There is nothing frivolous or superficial here."

James Bradley in "The Age": "I often suspect Tim Winton is sometimes misunderstood as a sort of poet of the beach, a creator of sprawling epics inflected by the grandeur of the landscape they inhabit. I say misunderstood because Winton's subject is darker and more troubling...For, in many ways, it is the idea of damage - personal, psychic, physical - that Winton returns to time and again and it is this undercurrent of pain that lends his often fractured narratives their urgency and brooding power...It's unlikely Winton has ever written as well as he writes in Breath, a book that marries the lyricism of work such as Cloudstreet to the adamantine hardness of the stories in The Turning. Time and again his descriptions of the ocean and the littoral break free of the page, revealing this landscape with a clarity and an intimacy that lets us see it anew. Yet simultaneously this lyric imagination is given heft by the darkness behind it."


Philip Adams interviewed Winton on his ABC Radio National program "Late Night Live". You can listen to the interview off the site but you'd best be quick - they don't stay around for very long.
Kerry O'Brien interviewed the author on last night's "7.30 Report" on ABC1. This is a longer interview than was shown live, but again you'll need to be quick.
Jason Steger in "The Age".

So what is it about risk? Winton reckons it's so prevalent among the young because Western culture has such safety and domesticity. "You can understand a residual appetite for wildness," he says. "But I think there's also a physical, psychological and erotic correlative to all that." He knows all about it. He had that hunger for wildness that he gives the boys. When he was still quite young he moved from the Perth suburbs to Albany with his parents.

"Growing up in a small country town, there was this palpable compulsion towards risk, and that had to do with somehow defeating the empire of boredom and the empire of domesticity and the empire of the occupation . . . youth often feel they're living under occupation; the occupation of the old and the occupation of the ratepayer.

"From that occupied territory, we'd go out on these pointlessly insurgent actions of risk-taking, which simply involved fast cars, drugs, sexual misadventure and, where we were, firearms. And for my tiny coterie of fellow travellers, water sports."


There is also a website dedicated to the book which contains a wealth of material.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on May 7, 2008 10:17 AM.

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