Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life
“Most canonical accounts of surfing, from Captain Cook to Tom Wolfe, are written by nonsurfers who tend to wax gooey about the sport’s joys while getting its mechanics and ethos laughably wrong. Yet when surfers themselves began to write about it, in the 1960s, what they produced was usually bad in other ways — pretentious, semiliterate, purple or merely slight. It came to seem that surfing, like some pagan mystery cult, might simply defy literary representation, remaining properly understood only by initiates who were too busy surfing to learn to write.
“Then, in the summer of 1992, there appeared in The New Yorker a long, two-part article by William Finnegan titled “Playing Doc’s Games” that was instantly recognized as a masterpiece.”
Here, twenty-three years later, is William Finnegan’s memoir of an obsession.