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Classics of the month: January

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For January 2021, we roll out our towels on the Australian beach.

Nothing says Aussie summer holidays quite like the sand, headlands and flags of our world famous beaches. But beneath the glistening waves and beyond the dunes, things are not always as idyllic as they seem. For our first look in the rear-view mirror for 2021, we revisit a teenage feminist succès de scandale, a gripping coming-of-age and some collected stories of a perpetual Australian beachcomber.

Puberty Blues (1979)

Puberty Blues

For Deb and Sue, life is about surfies, panel vans, straight-leg Levis, nicking off from school, getting wasted and fitting in. But why should guys have all the fun? 'By day, we were at school learning logarithms, but by night – in the back of cars, under the bowling alley, on Cronulla Beach, or, if you were lucky, in a bed while someone's parents were out – you paid off your friendship ring.'

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Breath (2008)

Breath

When paramedic Bruce Pike is called out to deal with another teenage adventure gone wrong, he knows better than his colleague, better than the kid's parents, what happened and how. Thirty years before, that dead boy could have been him. Tim Winton's Breath, winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award, is a story about the wildness of youth and learning to live with its passing.

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The True Colour of the Sea (2018)

The True Colour of the Sea

Witty, clever, ever touching and always inventive, the eleven stories in The True Colour of the Sea take us to many varied coasts: whether a tense Christmas holiday apartment overlooking the Indian Ocean or the shabby glamour of a Cuban resort hotel. Relationships might be frayed, savaged, regretted or celebrated, but here there is always the life-force of the ocean – seducing, threatening, inspiring.

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