Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life (Large Print / Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews


This memoir by The New Yorker Magazine writer William Finnegan is a phenomenal read.  Barbarian Days encompasses, travel, surfing, and Finnegan's life growing up, living in Hawaii and California, what it was like learning to surf and so much more.  He writes about discovering surf destinations where friends and neighbors in the South Bay take annual trips to now...but when he traveled there, nobody else knew about (Tava Rua).  But besides Tava Rua there are numerous other destinations world wide that he visits and writes about that you will love and whether you surf or not - Barbarian Days will capture you.  Great gift for a surfer friend.
 

— Margot Farris

Description


A deeply rendered self-portrait of a lifelong surfer by the acclaimed" New Yorker "writer

"Barbarian Days" is William Finnegan's memoir of an obsession, a complex enchantment. Surfing only looks like a sport. To initiates, it is something else entirely: 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 Days takes us deep into unfamiliar worlds, some of them right under our noses off the coasts of New York and San Francisco. It immerses the reader in the edgy camaraderie of close male friendships annealed in challenging waves.

Finnegan shares stories of life in a whitesonly gang in a tough school in Honolulu even while his closest friend was a Hawaiian surfer. 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 folly he drops LSD while riding huge Honolua Bay, on Maui is served up with rueful humor. He and a buddy, their knapsacks crammed with reef charts, bushwhack through Polynesia. They discover, while camping on an uninhabited island in Fiji, one of the world's greatest waves. As Finnegan's travels take him ever farther afield, he becomes an improbable anthropologist: unpicking the picturesque simplicity of a Samoan fishing village, dissecting the sexual politics of Tongan interactions with Americans and Japanese, navigating the Indonesian black market while nearly succumbing to malaria. Throughout, he surfs, carrying readers with him on rides of harrowing, unprecedented lucidity.

"Barbarian Days "is 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. Today, Finnegan's surfing life is undiminished. Frantically juggling work and family, he chases his enchantment through Long Island ice storms and obscure corners of Madagascar.

About the Author


WILLIAM FINNEGAN is the author of "Cold New World," "A Complicated War," "Dateline Soweto," and "Crossing the Line." He has twice been a National Magazine Award finalist and has won numerous journalism awards, including two Overseas Press Club awards since 2009. A staff writer at "The New Yorker" since 1987, he lives in Manhattan.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781410485892
ISBN-10: 1410485897
Large Print: Yes
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Publication Date: January 6th, 2016
Pages: 643
Language: English