Suck it in

Breath

By Tim Winton

What a rush this book is. Winton has produced a novel that is exhilarating both emotionally and physically. This story of a young man’s adolescence spent surfing gives you the rush of the waves and hormones all at the same time.

We follow a character known by his nickname Pikelet, his audacious friend Loonie and their much older mentor Sando, who lives with his wife near the beach. The three men establish such a pure and innocent bond based on adventure. Their relationship is intoxicating, but this is a story so any stability cannot last. We see the world through Pikelet’s eyes as he grows up over a couple of years and develops his own distinctive personality that is not part of any group, family or society. Winton’s portrayal of a young man’s maturity is subtle and honest.

Although Winton’s brevity and clarity of language are crucial to the book, they are not the things that I hope to remember. Instead, I want this book’s tone to stay with me. The melancholy and pathos feel so genuine, especially as they morph over the lifetime of our protagonist. It is this feeling that I wish to keep. And I envy Winton for succeeding in making me feel this way.

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