Tim Winton Watch #4

Reviews of Breath

Carolyn See in "The Washington Post": "Breath, Winton's latest novel, is stunning in the depth of its audacity. Because, when you think about it, breath is our relationship to the cosmos. We breathe in an iota of the universe, we breathe it out; without it, we die. But then why is there something in us that makes us want to hold our breath as kids until we pass out, or makes us just stop breathing while we're sleeping until our rattled partners shake us

Jennifer Schuessler in "The International Herald Tribune": "What is it about surfing that inclines so steeply toward the mystical? To the Polynesians who first rode the waves on heavy wooden boards, surfing was a spiritual practice aimed at connecting with the gods of the sea while cementing the power of the nobility, who jealously protected their breaks against incursions by commoners and rivals. The Australian surf legend Nat Young, author of the imposing Complete History of Surfing (along with the more usefully prophylactic Surf Rage), reportedly once tried to register surfing as a religion...Winton's novel succeeds as a tautly gorgeous meditation on the inescapable human addiction to 'the monotony of drawing breath,' whether you want to or not." It's the same review in "The New York Times".

The "Herald Sun" has links to Winton reading extracts from the novel.

The "Book & Reading Discussions Forum" weblog has posted a video of Winton promoting Breath at the Brisbane Town Hall in May.

Short Notices

Chazz W on Breath: "Winton writes with a vivid love and respect for the ocean that is remarkable. Anyone who has ever surfed needs to read this book. But it's not a surfer book, or just a surfer book, by any means. It's a book about breath and breathing: the breath of life and how fragile it is, the thin barrier that separates us in our lives from death. And it's not just a coming of age novel, though it is a heartbreaking and tender one of those. It's a novel of yearning and fear and coping and acceptance and finding
one's place. It's a novel of lost hopes, the loss of innocence, middle age and of coming to terms with the parents we thought we'd never want to become."

Hebdomeros: "In Breath, the eighth novel by two-time Booker nominee, Winton transforms the dangers of surfing and thrill seeking into a powerful metaphor for the transition from childhood to adulthood."


Aida Edemariam in "The Guardian":

"Writing a book is a bit like surfing," he said. "Most of the time you're waiting. And it's quite pleasant, sitting in the water waiting. But you are expecting that the result of a storm over the horizon, in another time zone, usually, days old, will radiate out in the form of waves. And eventually, when they show up, you turn around and ride that energy to the shore. It's a lovely thing, feeling that momentum. If you're lucky, it's also about grace. As a writer, you roll up to the desk every day, and then you sit there, waiting, in the hope that something will come over the horizon. And then you turn around and ride it, in the form of a story."
"It can sometimes be a bit of a struggle if you are passionate about story and you like to write about things where something happens," says Winton, a rangy, ponytailed figure who seems a tad constrained by the Dublin hotel conference room he's been corralled in for the day.

"The legacy of modernism," he continues, "is that the more serious you are, the less will happen in the book. There'll be waves of energy, in that sort of Wolfian, Joycean sense, but essentially the less that happens, the better off we'd all be, that's the understanding. And what turned me onto reading as a kid was momentum, the fact that something was going to happen, Robert Louis Stephenson and Mark Twain. It was exciting, and story was really important. You get that from Tolstoy and Dickens.

"But somehow it's as though two world wars was enough to disqualify story forever. Everything had to be this endless pristine interiority. And that's okay, but if you've had a certain kind of a life where you live in a vivid natural environment, then you want to write about that and not feel like you've got to apologise for the fact that you're not essentially writing for some pure, aesthetic, endlessly embellished series of rhetorical questions."


A new portrait of Winton is on display at the Kidogo Gallery in Fremantle: "The oil-painting by local artist Michael Legge-Wilkinson depicts the acclaimed WA author standing with arms folded in front of the turquoise blue coastline of southern Ningaloo Reef."

The "Lockie Leonard" and "Dogstar" television series, based on stories by Winton, have received funding for a second series of each.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on July 18, 2008 10:19 PM.

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