Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Required Reading


Woke up yesterday to a steady downpour and a chill in the air. Outside my window, kids lugged their backpacks to the local high school, another year having just begun. It's funny how my own reaction to the climate change and leaves scattered on my lawn, the dark mornings and football on TV, is one of slight nervousness, as if I'm also starting a new scholastic year. Or maybe the stomach butterflies swarm in anticpation of the big, cold, fall swell that comes with offshore storms.

This particular morning, I looked over the books I've been reading lately and noticed a recurring theme: surf. How cool would it be if there was a class on surf literature taught by Matt Warshaw or Dave Parmenter? Right now I'm working my way through "The Dogs of Winter," by Kem Nunn. His story about a mysto wave near the Oregon border that's only accessible through an Indian Reservation is a perfect reading for this time and place.

I also need to find out who borrowed my favorite surf novel, "In Search of Captain Zero." Rumor has it Sean Penn was going to play the author, Alan Weisbecker, but had a falling out with the writer when he refused to read the book.

Mazzy Star - On the Low

17 comments:

totor said...

"Surf city" is also a good book.

Patch said...

Brotha,
Paper Shredders: An Anthology of Surf Writing. By G. Murray Thomas and Gary Wright

Here's what Pezman said aboutit:

"A pioneering anthology of experiential verse and essays about riding waves first published in 1993 before surf books were in vogue. The second edition is physically enhanced and enriched, still all good stuff, worth the ring on your butt it will cause if you keep it in the bathroom."
--Steve Pezman, Publisher of The Surfer's Journal

Chum said...

Thanks for the recommendations. I'm always up for expanding my library!

Otis said...

I enjoyed "Dogs of Winter", and saw him read at Powells a few years ago. That book just feels like a rainy, dark day though. Sort of bleak. One must read is "The Pump House Gang", by Tom Wolfe, which is a just a short story, but captures the Windansea scene in La Jolla in the '60s spot on. Anyone who's driven reefs of La Jolla checking the spots and seen the Mac Meda Destruction Co. stickers can learn their origin here.

Chum said...

You know, there's an excerpt from The Pump House Gang in that Zero Break collection. Thanks for reminding me that I need to read it.

I love that Sandy Dego scene!

G said...

I'm off the surf book kick. I just got "Running with Scissors" and need to try and read it before the movie comes out. Speaking of which, is June almost done with Black Dahlia? That's high on my list as well.

Jason said...

I have a theory that Daniel Duane co-opted a fair amount of the stories in his book; the novel he wrote following "Caught Inside", "Looking For Mo", is about a writer who gets famous by passing off his friend's rock climbing adventures as his own, and with all of the obvious composite characters in "Caught Inside", as well as the truth behind why Duane really went up to Santa Cruz (he was, according to some articles and reviews I've read, actually there as a student at UC Santa Cruz, not, as the book portrays, on some Thoreau-esque journey of self-discovery), one has to wonder. IMHO, there's yet to be a definitive work of surf lit, be it fiction or non.

foul pete said...

Don't forget Drew Kampion's 'The Lost Coast'

totor said...

"Nats' Nat and that's that": Nat Young's autobiography...

Chum said...

That Nat book sounds great! I also forgot the Dora bio, which I'm looking forward to reading.

rob70 said...

Dogs of Winter is great. It IS like a cold rainy day. I just picked up Tapping the Source. How does it compare?

Caught Inside though, isn't going to win any awards from the surfing crowd.

Chum said...

"Tapping the Source" is a great read - tough to put down. If you can imagine a surf mystery set in the seedy Huntington Beach of the late '70s/early '80s, replete with drugs/sex/violence you're only part way there. It's a bit like John Fante's "Ask the Dust" (a fave of mine) in that the protagonist is a doofus who often screws up, but is endearing and brave in his human-ness.

The segment where he catches his first real wave at the Ranch is worth the price of the book alone, especially for real surfers for whom those same memories never fail to envoke goosbumps.

Totor said...

I've juste realized that "Tapping the source" is the same as "surf city" ("french" translation of the title...)
I do agree with you: the way he describes his very first "real" wave is awesome: exactly the way I remember it more than twenty years later.
Fante is one of the greatest writer of all time in my opinion.
I love Carver and Brautigan as well... among others...

Chum said...

French authors! Now we're talking. How about Bataille and Celiine? Not to mention Houellebecq!!

Totor said...

Celine is a genious, the greatest french author of ALL time.
None can compare to him.
But I hardly imagine how his novels can be translated: his style is SO weird. Must be very tricky for the translators.
I'm not very fond of Houellebecq: the "hype" is a bit disturbing to appreciate only his talent: maybe in 10 or 15 years, I'll change my mind... ;)

Jamie said...

xzvgnvThere are also references to the Windansea/Pumphouse group in Tom Wolfe's 'Electric Kool-Aid Test'...esp, about Anchovy.

Jamie said...

Mac Meda cofounder, Jack Macpherson, died on November 16, 2006. Paddleout and wake to be arranged. Call London's West End tavern in Pacific Beach for information. 858-488-1191.