Book Review – Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan

Exquisitely written – thoughtful, honest, credible, and adventurous

51kz1xP+sDL._AC_US160_When I heard about Mr. Finnegan’s memoir, chronicling his lifetime of surfing adventures intertwined with his journey as a writer, I knew it would be one of the best books I’ve read. Readers who have never surfed a wave or had any interest in the surfing lifestyle will still find this work well worth reading.  Finnegan has a knack for smooth beautiful writing that will evoke emotions both familiar and otherwise.

This memoir is more than a story of one man’s life’s journeys and adventures.  It is an exploration of what it means to be devoted, almost entirely to a way of life.  With Barbarian Days, Finnegan created an avenue for the non-surfer to become immersed in what a relationship with the ocean is all about.  As a surfer, William Finnegan could likely be counted among the very few who have surfed many of the best, challenging waves that the world’s most exotic locales have to offer.

One of the later chapters that I found captivating was the author’s experiences with San Francisco’s “Ocean Beach”.  Having grown up surfing on that stretch of coast, the winter swells at VFWs, Noriega, Sloat, and Fleishackers, is still considered something a surfer must work up to. These aren’t places a casual surfer can handle, even in perfect conditions. Finnegan offers an honest, unblemished portrait of the Ocean Beach experience without any need for embellishment.  Conquering the winter waves at Ocean Beach is an extremely difficult endeavor that only an author with Finnegan’s experience and credibility can illustrate with integrity.

As a reputable writer, William Finnegan is proof positive that it is indeed within the art of the possible that a great surfer can at the same time be a great writer.

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