Tim Winton Watch #6

Reviews of Breath

Robert Wiersema in "The Ottawa Citizen": "We book reviewers, as a rule, like to keep some professional distance in our writing. Sometimes, though, with certain books or authors, one wants to simply rave, the way one might in a bar or a coffee-shop, sitting with fellow book-lovers. In that spirit, reader to reader, let me say this: you've gotta read Tim Winton...An Australian export, Winton is, without exaggeration, one of the most formidable voices in contemporary writing. Twice nominated for the Booker Prize, with a world-wide readership and almost universal critical acclaim, Winton has 20 books to his credit, every one of them unique and surprising...Winton writes with a stunning, simple clarity. Largely plain-spoken and emotionally direct, the novel shifts into an elevated prose during moments of risk and beauty, and particularly those times when the two combine. The characters are carefully drawn, and reveal themselves slowly over the course of the novel...Breath is powerful and enthralling. It will make many readers uncomfortable, but that, in some ways, is its greatest strength."
"The Free Lance-Star": "Winton's descriptions are almost always sure-handed, but his grasp and description of the surfing scenes in the book give a scary feel to catching waves or for waves catching the surfers...Breath is a slender little novel but a good introduction into Winton, though not nearly as nuanced or ambitious as his best-known Cloudstreet. Breath shows off what Winton does best -- he doesn't bore, he doesn't philosophize, he just digs deep enough to expose the people he has created, who bear a striking resemblance to the humanity around us."
"Blogcritics" magazine: "Long ago, Freud introduced the concept of thanatos, the so-called death instinct. Many have dismissed or even ridiculed this notion, so un-Darwinian in its nature. How can we have a death instinct, when all instinctual drives seem based on preserving and extending life? Yet Winton shows even more persuasively in story form what Freud tried to outline in theory. Winton's characters reveal a barely hidden passion for non-existence, and death lingers at the fringes of almost every scene in this penetrating novel."
"booklovers.gather.com": "This reader was awed by Winton's ability to craft the written word, and his fierce desire to explore human nature. I was certainly not feeling a need to visit the place that Winton took me, but I am changed for the better. Breath, a metaphor for life itself. So simple it seems, but so fragile it remains, so easily stopped."

Short notices

"Jenny's Reading Blog": "I couldn't understand why this book hadn't been marketed to teenagers until I got to the last few chapters. It was a teenage rites of passage novel with a very dark and out of their depth twist. I suddenly thought I really would not like my 15 year old reading this, but I couldn't put it down myself."
The "Bookwookey" weblog: "Winton's writing can make the most overworked of themes - adolescent angst - live again. One of the reasons I keep coming back to him as a writer, even when I quake in my boots after reading some scenes of abuse in his short stories that I have never gotten out of my mind, is because his musicianship with my language can make me hear and see things as if for the first time."
"The Houseboat of Decadence" weblog: "I have now finished Breath by Tim Winton. I enjoyed it and it has retained a place on my bookshelf. It captured things as beautifully as all his other writing has but my writer/editing alarm rang when right towards the end of the book it lost the gentle rhythm he'd created. I suspected that either he or his editor had put the pedal to the metal in some regard towards the end and the story sort of rushed into the conclusion. His books don't usually trip over and land in a heap like this so I suspect that the whisper I'd heard that he hadn't written a book for some years perhaps had put some pressure on."
"The Real Bookish" weblog :"Reading Tim Winton's Breath is as if plunging into the water, having a good swim, and then re-immerge, feeling refreshed. This is one of the most beautifully written books I have read. Winton's writing is magical; I finished it in two sittings despite the limited time I have for reading."
"Otago Daily Times": "I read less Australian fiction than I should, but this 40-something chap once again had me spellbound, reading Breath over the breakfast table, on the bus, way too late at night, finishing it on the second day...Winton writes with a sense of passion and authenticity that even a non-surfer like me can appreciate, bringing to the page the redemptive beauty of the sport."


"The Age:

Surfing, says Tim Winton, is not the sort of activity that's an easy fit with a literary readership. "Adultery might be," he muses. So he's been surprised and delighted by the extraordinarily rapid success of his latest novel, Breath. The risky adventures of teenage boys surfing off the Western Australian coast, the thrill and the compulsion and the damage done, have struck a mysterious chord with readers and reviewers in London, New York, Toronto and Holland.


Winton is patron of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, and he recently joined forces with a number of other artists to participate in an auction to raise funds for "the marine charity's campaign to stop targeted shark fishing on the Great Barrier Reef."

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on September 29, 2008 9:43 PM.

"The Life of Brian (or Lack Thereof)" by Maree Spratt was the previous entry in this blog.

Australian Bookcovers #131 - The Escapades of Ann by Edward Dyson is the next entry in this blog.

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