As promised – the Barbarian Days book review. I’ve finally finished Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan. I’d had my eye on the book for a while, and when it won a Pulitzer Prize for autobiography this spring, it suddenly made it’s way into my hands. Surfing. Chris calls it “the fever”. As in “he has the fever” – the only way to describe someone known to disappear at a surf buoy’s notice. In case you didn’t notice from the blog photos, Chris has the fever. Finnegan has lived with the fever and will take you, the willing reader, on that journey with him.
William Finnegan’s prose makes surf culture accessible to novice and experienced surfers alike. He introduces the jargon and how to read a wave as a boy learning to surf and developing into a strong surfer. If you’re wondering how to catch a wave, which way to turn, how to read the wind and tide – you’ll find entry with Barbarian Days.
Part bildungsroman, part American road trip novel, Finnegan and his best friend Brian Di Salvatore head West in search of the unknown wave. And they find it several times over, returning from the East. Nowadays these mythical waves are well known to surf culture. The secret’s out, the book can be published. And these are the surf pioneers – who is going to claim otherwise? I’d like to know the stories that are still left unsaid. 😉
Something happened to me while I read this book. As Finnegan makes his journey, he reflects on the contemporary literature he reads. I remember these books, too. I like to read again! I remember why I liked these books now. Among others. Here’s my reading list for July:
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
The Mirror of the Sea by Joseph Conrad
We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live by Joan Didion
Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard
The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell
A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Conner