Saturday, 16 January 2016

Breath - Tim Winton

  • After trawling around Amazon reviews for this I find that the 5 stars far outweigh the 1 and 2 stars.  I came to this as a Winton fan already, but it stayed on the shelf for a long while because it’s about surfing, a sport that has no effect on me except the appreciation of the Beach Boys surfer songs of yore.
    But what I do appreciate is a well written book.  This is one.  The lower scores were given by folk who for a start did not like the lack of “speech marks” as they could not tell where a conversation began and ended.  They also did not care for what they describe as the foul language.  Mmmm..... I have never worried about speech marks, and this book is quite clear about conversations, so no worries there.  I didn’t notice much foul language either, but when it was there it was part of the whole – so no offence taken by me.  And yet, those offended by foul language seemed not to have noticed a particular sexual practice...... 
    I know nothing of surfing.  I don’t want to do it, either, but Winton must know, and must have enjoyed or still enjoys the thrill of it – and now I  understand too.  But when you are a twelve year old,  just reaching adolescence with a thirteen year old friend who does not have a great home life, the thrills when doing something naughty; or banned, or just different cannot be ignored.  Led on by a fantastic surfer, who has travelled the world and studied the weather charts for the next storm and the waves that herald it, they learn to surf some big ones. For one of them enough is enough and other thrills beckon – for the other, the thrill of this wave will never be anything except the anticipation of the next.
    It’s short – 247 pages – and it isn’t “sweet” by any stretch of the imagination; but in those few pages Winton has captured something which you could feel,  and has written about it perfectly.  Add to that a first sexual encounter and a loss of friendship and this is a mighty coming of age story.