(March 15, 2019) It’s time for another one, another good book regarding our favorite subject, object, topic.
The book is “Barbarian Days, A Surfing Life,” by William Finnegan.
Finnegan is a staff writer for the New Yorker Magazine and is also on staff at SURFER Magazine. He’s not only a good surfer but quite a writer as well.
Much of his writing has been as a war correspondent with extensive travel to risky, dangerous battle zones.
As a world traveler, his surfing resume is impressive. His skill as a writer puts him in a class of his own.
Growing up in Hawaii and California he was bitten by the surf bug early on. Segments of his life
include Australia, Africa, Indonesia, San Francisco and Madeira.
Accolades, reviews and praise of the book encompasses the first four pages with reports from respected newspapers, sports magazines and literary reviews.
So, it becomes not only a book about surfing but literature of adventure, culture and pursuit of some of the best waves in the world and the resulting lifestyle.
Finnegan has managed to conduct a life of high professional standards entwined with wave riding of the highest standard.
One of the consistent features, pervading through all segments of the book, is the description of waves, how they are ridden, paddling out to them and even getting back to shore.
The detail is outstanding: Breaks in the sandbar to get outside. Keyholes in the reef to do the same. Lining up a break, knowing where to sit. How the same spot can have a different complexion with a tide change, more favorable wind, or swell direction.
Even returning to a surf spot after a period of time and noting differences whether good or bad. It takes experience to know of these things and indeed the author possesses plenty.
An interesting aspect of Finnegan’s is that he has lived in Manhattan since 1987. Local spots for him are Long Island and the Jersey Shore, but with access to multiple airports, the world literally becomes available. Time and money being the obvious constraints.
The book was published in 2015. With a surfing “career” starting in early teens and a 20-year span prior to residence in Manhattan, the story bridges roughly a 50-year period with more than enough interesting places and episodes, keeping the stoke high to be read again and again.
Recommendable to anyone, surfer or not, “Barbarian Days, A Surfing Life,” by William Finnegan is on many levels about as good as it gets.
— Dave Dalkiewicz is the owner of Ocean Atlantic Surf Shop in Ocean City