Saturday, December 19, 2009

Breath - Tim Winton

buy - author site

The Deal: At this point in time, due to an RSI, I can only type for 10 minutes at a time. What you see below is what is hammered out before the timer goes off- and nothing more.

Sharks. Bane of all surfers. Hehheheheh.

Every time Tim Winton wins another major Australian literary award, I frown a little bit. He's beginning to feel like the easy way out for judges to take, he's Australia's King of Capital L Literature, so whatever he writes must be worthy of award, even if there are scads of books out there which are better.

Which is an unfair reaction for me to have, given I have not read much Winton, nor have I gone on much of a crusade to discover and read any other contenders.

But seriously, he is not Australia's only writer, and this book is not all that.

It is coming of age story told as reminiscence by the man who has already come of age and is past mid-life. As such, all that occurs in his reminiscing is tinged with nostalgia that tempered with cliche, self-flagellation and no small amount of of blame - these people played this role in his formative years, therefore how he turned out as an adult is their fault. I kept waiting for the reminiscing to stop, to have some pay off with the grown adult that the book kicks off with. It didn't.

There are interesting themes that thread through the narrative. That of breathing, obviously, and how that links to death, and thus life, to be alive. That of fear, how it holds us back but not without reason. That of beauty, of doing something that has no practical or pragmatic purpose other than because it is beautiful.

But these themes aren't balanced. They're picked up and put down with no sense of rhythm, and bounce off each other in discord. The note the book ends on ties back to something that did not overshadow the bulk of the narrative, and felt out of place.

It was given to me. The price tag on the back is $24.95. It is a small book and the print is quite large, as are the margins.

Verdict: It is a decent read, with some interesting moments in there, but it is not worthy of the roaring around it.


  1. So what do Australians think of Peter Carey? Does he only get the love from the former imperial power?

  2. Oh yeah, him. Yeah, they take it in turns.