"Breath" by Tim Winton

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Post by moondoggie » Wed May 07, 2008 11:27 am

"The big city reality" is the reflection "Ahhhh so thats how My Life could be if I wasn't living here" A look at life on the fringe, not the time impeded, goal induced cage of city living.

And Smmmmntl perhaps you enjoyed the jouney so much that you felt shortchanged by the ending in Dirt Music.
I remeber that the stage production of "cloudstreet" was one of the great successes of the nineties, sold outfor months in advance, everybody saw it and they were all moved to rave reviews... the proof of the pudding is...

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Post by Clif » Wed May 07, 2008 11:38 am

Breath does not seem to challenge dominant romantic narratives and psychologies of Australia and the coastlines we surf and love. Or offer us an deeply insightful take or new psychology to relate to.

Maybe that was not the intention though. It seems like a fun book. And the use of language and imagery is great, yet again.

That in itself is enough, surely.

I don't think Winton himself would give his work the high-falutin' "literary" tag. Even though others love to turn his tales into "study pieces" and "high art".

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Post by emerald snake » Wed May 07, 2008 11:44 am

I have just started reading this latest Winton book. And it feels like I am continuing what he has started with CLoudstreet. his books feel like one entire novel, interconnected with all the characters seeming to know each other. Winton himself has actually admitted this.

But his descriptions of surfing are for the want of a better term, breathtaking. I'm not sure if he surfs but he portrays the whole feeling, the adrenaline and the way a moment in time whilst surfing can be etched in your memory forever...

His style is so easy and catches the fundamental spirit of the West Coast....loving it...cant wait till his next one.

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Post by emerald snake » Wed May 07, 2008 11:49 am

I think Winton disguises his substance through a cleverly crafted language that we can relate to and his themes and musings work subconsciously.

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Post by Clif » Wed May 07, 2008 11:54 am

So much surfing is not about risk and adrenaline though ... but it makes for a good story. :D [/quote]

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Post by collnarra » Wed May 07, 2008 11:58 am

Kem Nunn captures surfing well. Anyone read any of his novels?

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Post by emerald snake » Wed May 07, 2008 12:00 pm

true, but i think he was getting at the idea of an addiction to adrenaline in some people, that helps propel them through life.

and the changes as people age, to attain what was once so exhilirating in the midst of a mundane life.

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Post by kuba » Wed May 07, 2008 12:36 pm

pff. tim winton... c'mon people. :roll:

the only sentimental education worth reading was written 150 years ago.

(winton: c'est un écrivain, mais ce n'est pas un auteur!)

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Post by Chong » Wed May 07, 2008 12:37 pm

I have never read Tim Winton (being an expat Kiwi - he never really was on my literary radar) but I really liked the excerpt from Breath they had in SMH last weekend.

I respect the guy not for creating high art but more for having the balls to pursue a career as a writer. He also must get to log some serious water time working "irregular hours".

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Post by 2nd Reef » Wed May 07, 2008 12:37 pm

smnmntl wrote:"Tim Winton is massively overrated. His recent novels are not bad, but no better than not bad. His early work is fcuking awful, but its reputation basks undeservedly in the critical glow cast upon the later novels. He's yet another Australian artist whose popularity reflects the infantile need for Australians to see "our stories" beamed back at us in sentimental, knockabout terms. He also has no idea how to finish a novel; the ending of Dirt Music was so bad that I threw the book across the room".

I'm detecting a whole lot of cultural cringe in that statement Smn.

I agree that the ending of Dirt Music was annoying (rumour has it that he got the advance, got the body of the story, then got writers block) but thinking about it in hindsight I quite like that it is left messy and unresolved - even if that was unintentional.

Have you read The Turning? I think that book is nigh on a masterpiece. I challenge you to find any characters portrayed in a sentimental or 'Daryl Kerrigan' sort of way. They have flaws and vulnerabilities. In The Turning Winton does a brilliant job of conveying how the outward manifestation of those internal flaws affect relationships and community.

And why not write about our stories? Or more specifically why should he not write about HIS STORIES? Cos in his last few books Winton has used the fictional towns of Angelus and White Point as settings for his stories. Except they aren't fictional. Angelus is Albany (where he lives), White Point is Geraldton or Lancelin, one of the dry coastal towns north of Perth (an area he is also apparently familiar with). Similar characters pop up in different books of his (Vic Lang being one that immediately comes to mind).

For me, this use of similar characters and settings conveys a consistent worldview. Therefore it is not entirely fiction - it is his representation of his world, which is not dissimilar to the world many of us know. Hence his popularity.

PS: I read both Dirt Music and The Turning while I was on a desert coast very similar to the sort of landscape he spends a lot of time describing in those books. I think his articulation of the visual and emotional properties of those coasts is superb. It was like seeing The Clash at The Roxy or The Ramones at CBGB's - the artist in their natural element.

PPS: I like Tim Winton!

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Post by Spoon » Wed May 07, 2008 12:48 pm

I have never really gotten into Tim Winton's writings although I appreciate the work he has done and his involvement in trying to save Ningaloo Reef. My taste in books tend to go towards Matthew Reilly when it comes to Australian authors.

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Post by The Family Guy » Wed May 07, 2008 12:59 pm

I read Dirt Music by Winton and The Contest by Reilly on my last holiday. Winton writes beautifully but his stories can be frustrating (SMN, if you found the ending of Dirt Music bad DO NOT read The Riders). Reilly tells a rollicking good yarn, but his writing is crap.

Looking forward to reading Breath.

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Post by oldman » Wed May 07, 2008 1:00 pm

Clif wrote:[And the use of language and imagery is great, yet again.

That in itself is enough, surely.

I don't think Winton himself would give his work the high-falutin' "literary" tag. Even though others love to turn his tales into "study pieces" and "high art".
He would probably shy away from the 'literary' tag. I suspect that adds weight to the idea that he may be the authentic Australian voice rather than the 'romantic' australian voice. Your opinion on that may depend more on where you are than where he is.

I think he is so much more authentic than the literary darlings like Carey and White. I can't understand the adulation these two receive, particularly as I find their writing has so little about it that I find 'Australian'.

I just find White particularly and Carey turgid, unreadable and insufferably boring. All attempts to read White have left me a gibbering idiot after a page or two, and Carey manages to bore me almost immediately.

These comments should be taken with a grain of salt however. I know not what I talk about.

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Post by sliver » Wed May 07, 2008 1:01 pm

I remember going to a "meet the writer" interview with Tim Winton a few years back, and he said he always copped a lot of heat for his endings, expecially "The Riders"'s.
He half joked saying that he's not very confortable writing endings.
An old woman literally abused him, it was funny.

He was the first Australian writer I read when I moved here. I randomly picked up "The Riders" without knowing anything about him at a second hand bookstore, and after reading it I thought I ended up in a really good place if a random read could be that good.

Collnarra, I enjoyed "Tapping the source" by Kem Nunn, very different writer though.

I haven't read "Breath" yet, but I definitely will.

Two other Australian stories I really liked (not surfing related) are "Journey to the Stone Country" by Alex Miller (a Pom!) and "The White Earth" by Andrew McGahan.

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Post by Lucky Al » Wed May 07, 2008 1:27 pm

kem nunn's novels are perfect for making into cheap action movies that go straight to video, if movies still go to video these days.

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Post by Norman_Gunston » Wed May 07, 2008 1:33 pm

Have been a big fan of Winton's since reading The Riders. Loved the Turning and Dirt Music. Couldn't finish Cloudstreet though. His endings may be a little brief or unsatisfying but for me it's about the journey. I couldn't put The Riders down. I've heard that The Turning is being made into a movie.

Have just started Breath and have realised that Sawyer (where it is set) is infact based on the beautiful little town of Denmark, WA. I spent 2 years there and surfed that point described in the book regularly. His descriptions are fantastic and it is great to be able to picture his settings.

I know he spends alot of time around the beach but doubt he surfs. The dialogue between the surfers is a little dramatic and contrived but his portrayal of pack dynamics is spot on. Its apparent in the text that he has watched alot of surfing during his time though. I am not far through the book and so may change my view.

It is refreshing to read about surfing from an objective point of view unspoilt by the common and dumbed-down vernacular used by the majority of the surfing media. So good not to suffer the term 'stoked' yet!

Hope there is no mention of the 50 year swell....

Those waiting for his next novel, dont hold your breath (sorry). He turns them out roughly every 7 years.
Last edited by Norman_Gunston on Wed May 07, 2008 1:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Nick Carroll » Wed May 07, 2008 2:40 pm

Writing about anything is difficult...especially in public, out front, with your real name attached.

Youse critics want to try it some time.

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Post by Royboys » Wed May 07, 2008 3:00 pm

Did you see that doco of Tim on the beach in WA with his mates with a feast of mud crab an blaring 44 gallon drum...?
The Crustaceans were been ripped apart with juices flowing down a wrist holding a stubby of VB who were probably his Editors.
That Purveyor of fine foods selling biscay tuna chunks in olive oil from the cantabrian coast as highly prized flesh for $29.95
is the omega man version.

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