Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life Author William Finnegan
ISBN-10 0143109391
ISBN-13 9780143109396
Year 2016-04-26
Pages 464
Language English
Publisher Penguin Books
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Winner of the2016 Pulitzer Prize for Autobiography Reading this guy on the subject of waves and water is like reading Hemingway on bullfighting William Burroughs on controlled substances Updike on adultery a coming of age story seen through the gloss resin coat of a surfboard Sports IllustratedIncluded in President Obamas 2016 Summer Reading ListBarbarian Daysis William Finnegans memoir of an obsession a complex enchantment Surfing only looks like a sport To initiates it is something else a beautiful addiction a demanding course of study a morally dangerous pastime a way of life Raised in California and Hawaii Finnegan started surfing as a child He has chased waves all over the world wandering for years through the South Pacific Australia Asia Africa A bookish boy and then an excessively adventurous young man he went on to become a distinguished writer and war reporter Barbarian Daystakes us deep into unfamiliar worlds some of them right under our nosesoff the coasts of New York and San Francisco It immerses the reader in the edgy camaraderie of close male friendships forged in challenging waves Finnegan shares stories of life in a whites only gang in a tough school in Honolulu He shows us a world turned upside down for kids and adults alike by the social upheavals of the 1960s He details the intricacies of famous waves and his own apprenticeships to them Youthful follyhe drops LSD while riding huge Honolua Bay on Mauiis served up with rueful humor As Finnegans travels take him ever farther afield he discovers the picturesque simplicity of a Samoan fishing village dissects the sexual politics of Tongan interactions with Americans and Japanese and navigates the Indonesian black market while nearly succumbing to malaria Throughout he surfs carrying readers with him on rides of harrowing unprecedented lucidity Barbarian Daysis an old school adventure story an intellectual autobiography a social history a literary road movie and an extraordinary exploration of the gradual mastering of an exacting little understood art Praise forBarbarian Days Without a doubt the finest surf book Ive ever read But on a more fundamental level Barbarian Daysoffers a clear eyed vision of American boyhood Like Jon KrakauersInto the Wild it is a sympathetic examination of what happens when literary ideas of freedom and purity take hold of a young mind and fling his body out into the far reaches of the world The New York Times MagazineIncandescent Id sooner press this book upon on a nonsurfer in part because nothing Ive read so accurately describes the feeling of being stoked or the despair of being held under But its also about a writers life and even more generally a questers life more carefully observed and precisely rendered than any Ive read in a long time Los Angeles Times

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