Originally published in Santa Cruz Waves Magazine.
BY WILLIAM FINNEGAN
An autobiography of a surfing obsession, Barbarian Days begins on the south shore of Oahu, where Finnegan surfed as a child in 1966, and traces his roots in Southern California, at breaks such as Ventura’s C Street. As an undergraduate, he enrolls at UC Santa Cruz but takes off in order to travel and surf. The book characterizes his adventures through the present day in Long Island, where Finnegan currently lives and continues to surf.
Trekking through California, Hawaii, the South Pacific, Australia, Portugal, Asia and Africa, Finnegan describes the complexities of the world’s best waves in vivid, unprecedented detail. He surfs frigid, massive Ocean Beach with local legend Doc Renneker; drops acid on a solid day at Honolua Bay; stumbles upon Tavarua when it was still an uninhabited Fijian island; and travels to Madeira, Portugal before it was ever featured in a surfing magazine.
Insightful and eloquent, Barbarian Days conveys concepts that many surfers share but few can effectively articulate, like how it feels to paddle out in big surf, the absolute devotion commanded by the sport, and the intricacies of the relationships surfers have with each other. Readers who surf will nod in agreement as they turn the pages; readers who don’t surf will feel as if they finally understand. Winner of a 2016 Pulitzer Prize, Barbarian Days is both authentic and academic, the product of a hard-core surfer who also happens to be a brilliant writer.
Waves caught up with Finnegan, who graduated from UCSC in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in English literature, after his keynote speech at one of this year’s UCSC graduation ceremonies. The approachable author says his dual life as an author and a surfer was the source of some friction—he often hid his adventures as surf bum from the circles he inhabited as a professional writer. When I confide that I surf, he perks up, and asks, “Where will the waves be good tomorrow?”
BY CLAY MARZO & ROBERT YEHLING
Amidst the struggle of living with autism, Clay Marzo is propelled into the ranks of professional surfing’s elite. The very qualities that impede social interaction— neurotic obsession, razor sharp focus, indifference to social norms—fuel his unique gift for navigating a world beyond human construct.
BY TERRI SCHNEIDER
Join ultra-marathoner and mountaineer Terri Schneider in a raw and riveting journey through the pivotal races that changed her life forever, and the lessons she learned in surpassing her limits. Taking a deeply intellectual approach to concepts such as fear, risk-taking, confidence and commitment, Schneider dissects universal themes that compel humans to reach their full potential.
BY MARK MARINOVICH
Set in Baja California, Marinovich’s novel is centered on a boy of modest means who dreams of catching a marlin and ultimately risks his life to save a humpback whale entangled in a fishing net. Marinovich, a Capitola resident, hopes that his book will raise awareness about the environmental impacts of plastic pollution.
BY LESLIE JOHANSEN NACK
A powerful coming-of-age story, Fourteen is about a young girl who journeys across the Pacific on a sailboat with her father and two sisters. In addition to becoming a confident sailor, Leslie learns how to fight back against abuse and tap into her own power.