Tim Winton Watch #3

Reviews of Breath

Rónán McDonald in the "Times Literary Supplement": "Like Hardy's Wessex or Faulkner's Mississippi, the Western Australian landscape has been consecrated by Tim Winton's fiction. He has been garlanded with literary awards and acclaim in his native Australia, and has been twice shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His work is preoccupied with wounded or troubled characters, often haunted by their past, who set out on actual or psychological journeys in search of purpose, meaning and redemption. Dirt Music (2002) depicts a vast, hostile outback in which the individual self is tiny and threatened. In Death, the sea takes on a comparable role as an immense elemental force that simultaneously compels and controls the protagonists...While Breath deals with primal, mythic conflicts -- the clash of wilderness and civilization, self and society, youth and age -- it does not strain for epic effect."

Brian Doyle in "The Oregonian": "...he has actually Written a Masterpiece, the epic 1992 novel Cloudstreet, and if you have Written a Masterpiece, you get to be called a Master...Breath, his first novel since the linked stories that composed The Turning, is not a masterpiece, though it is a wonderfully evocative and believable story of struggle, a coming-of-age story, a tale of a boy who grows up too fast and has to put the shards of himself together again to make a man. A surfing story, a story of sexual awakening, a story of how so often so many of us are so lonely even while so jostled together, it's a powerful book -- sad and hard, in a sense, but filled with a sensory immediacy and deep understanding of how boys, especially, can be both terrified and arrogant at once, frightened and loud, attracted to danger and repelled by order."

Andy Martin in "The Independent": "Unlike just about everyone else, I thought Winton's early work wildly over-written. Like a Dylan Thomas
poem transported to Western Australia and doing hard labour: lots of great vocabulary, but nothing much happening. In Breath, he has finally found an objective correlative, surfing, to carry his tough, visceral lyricism. Winton on a wave is irresistible."

Stephen Abell in "The Telegraph": "Reading Winton's latest novel, Breath, one begins to recognise that his prose is a small-town songline: the dirty, droning music of life in working-class Western Australia; the hum within the lives of people stranded in that 'strange and tough' part of the world."

Kathryn Crim in the "Los Angeles Times": "Winton often locates a transcendent wisdom in nature, letting it guide his analogies to time, space, longing and the sort of existential entrapment that comes from being born into a particular place and culture. This is the recipe for his soaring popularity in his native Australia and also the reason he has garnered an international audience. In his best moments of controlled, evocative storytelling, though, Winton's descriptions eschew metaphor altogether and instead masterfully balance visual imagery with colloquial language. In Breath, the waves underpin the episodic narrative, whose most vivid moments occur at sea. It achieves that essential quality of a short novel: Its poetry becomes its imperative, its motivating and most risky venture."

Tim Winton reads from his novel.

Short Notices

BookOffers website: "With Breath, Tim Winton's writing has attained a new level of mastery. This book confirms his standing alongside Ian McEwan and Philip Roth as one of the major chroniclers of the human condition, a writer of novels that are at the same time simple and profound, relentlessly gripping and deeply moving."

Connie Ogle in "The Miami Herald": "Breath dives deeply into the dangers of addiction to thrills and the nature of fear, friendship, sexual awakening and guilt. Winton, author of Dirt Music and Cloudstreet, eloquently describes the allure of surfing -- even if you have to share the cove with a great white shark -- and the risk of challenging
an unforgiving ocean..."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on June 13, 2008 4:14 PM.

Writing the Vernacular by James Devaney was the previous entry in this blog.

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