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[ Read ] Barbarian DaysAuthor William Finnegan –

A Deeply Rendered Self Portrait Of A Lifelong Surfer By The AcclaimedNew 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 WavesFinnegan Shares Stories Of Life In A Whites Only 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 S 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

10 thoughts on “Barbarian Days

  1. says:

    I spent a lot of car locked hours listening to William Finnegan s Barbarian Days A Surfing Life while I drove through three provinces to get to a two week placement and back again In fact, the 18 and a bit hours of Finnegan s Pulitzer Prize winning memoir lasted through two driving companions, one who joined me for the book s opening hours, the other who took in the final three hours The later companion remarked, with nary but an hour left in the audiobook Man, he s just all about the surfing, isn t he Indeed, Finnegan s memoir regales his years spent in the thrall of surfing s hypnotic draw with furious obsession For the most part, it is an extremely well written, and superbly narrated account Summer rays and the warm weather they bring are just beginning to make an appearance in my neck of the woods, and Finnegan s memoir provided the ideal opening salvo of summer Plain descriptions of lush surf, a life lived on the world s beaches, and a journalist s eye for time and place transported me far from the car to the oases of surf The memoir is dense, and I ll admit to dipping in and out of listening during certain portions of the book In what I m sure would be a frustrating reading experience, Finnegan describes day after day of surfing conditions, waves caught, wipeouts sustained, and board handling with enough regularity that it was not always necessary to listen to the audiobook Think of it as the audio equivalent to skimming a book.Though the seemingly endless deluge of surfing terminology, description, technicality, and meteorological conditions wore on me at the audiobook s onset, it took on a kind of plainspoken poetry as the book wore on It is also helped that Finnegan himself, who helps to add gravitas to a sport most often associated with reckless, longhaired adrenaline junkies, narrates the book Finnegan will sigh at his youthful foolishness, speak animatedly about an exciting memory, or sound appropriately dour as the situation requires The narration adds such a layer of depth to the book that I couldn t recommend reading it the audiobook is the definitive edition Of course, the only reason to want to read a memoir is to hear a tale of an interesting life Luckily, Finnegan has captured his life of reckless abandon that certainly seemed outside the realm of normal human experience The book opens with tales of combat and surfing as a child in Hawaii first, then California My first driving companion and I both noted how these opening chapters, the first 4 hours or so of the audiobook, seem like barbarian narratives transplanted into the land of sea and surf Finnegan spits, throws punches, receives punches, wrestles, and comes home bruised and bleeding from surf and combat Finnegan captures that daily violence was just a part of growing up in the 60s and well earns his title of Barbarian Days The middle section of the book, where Finnegan travels around the world on an endless search for the world s best waves, was my favorite Here Finnegan is able to put his journalism chops to work as he weaves his ode to surfing Finnegan brings to life other cultures, politics, people, and the place they live in with rare insight He spends time in Fiji, teaches in South Africa during apartheid, and endures some brutal medical conditions all in search of the perfect wave The savage weather conditions he and his surfing partner face in international surf are also suitably terrifying Throughout the book Finnegan meets with a wide swath of surfers It is at first jarring to deal with such an ungainly cast, but then life always has an obscenely large amount of characters What Finnegan does is paint not only a culture of surfing, but helps to describe the people who do surf and their various reasons for tackling such a life threatening sport.My complaints are minor Some of the surfing sections, though they do evoke beautiful places, can become repetitive and boring Finnegan does not pause to explain every surfing concept, or describe moves, he just expects that the reader will keep up with him I just had to head to Google on coffee and bathroom breaks to help build the world Finnegan describes The book also drags on towards the end, and the ending itself isn t all that satisfying Naturally, real lives don t always have thematic wrap ups that bring closure to an individual s story, but I thought he could have closed out the book with a bit oomph I m not the first person to note this, but it is a real shame that Goodreads doesn t operate on a ten point scale i.e 0.5s This isn t the best audiobook I ve ever listened to, but it was good With that said, it drags at times, and I dropped in and out of listening like waves lapping at the shore during my drive So, 3.5 stars with a kind round up to a full 4 This is a book about fanatical devotion to one s given craft Surfing for Finnegan is not just a sport, but a way of life that causes him to lose love and abandon family There s a zen philosophy to all of this that is compelling in its own right The compulsion to chase endless waves, live an endless summer, and never grow old is like crystallized summer If you re taking a long drive this summer, or looking for something to put on with a beer in your hand as the sun goes down, Barbarian Days A Surfing Life would be a fine companion UPDATE Here s a great article by Pitchfork about the sounds of surfing with William Finnegan.http thepitch 1151 wi Review of Audiobook

  2. says:

    One of the best books I have ever read What a wonderful book I listened to the audiobook and was glad I did William Finnegan has a delightful voice So soothing that you feel calmed This Pulitzer Prize winner is so worth the read.Highly recommend.5 out of 5 stars.

  3. says:

    I have an ongoing personal Pulitzer challenge that I engage in each year This year was a struggle all the way around but I managed to read six nonfiction winners and one player Next year I am setting the bar higher and will participate in a Pulitzer challenge in the nonfiction Pulitzer group It is not as much of a challenge as a way for me to track my books That aside, December is a time where everyone I know is either busy with holiday preparations or rushing to get books read for challenges I selected Barbarian Days A Surfing Life as it is not a lengthy, historical tome Rather, New Yorker staff writer William Finnegan details his life of surfing both in and out of the water, paying homage to the how chasing an endless wave is a metaphor for life Born in 1952 in New York to film editors Bill and Patricia Finnegan, at age two William Finnegan found himself on the move to the fledgling film industry in suburban Los Angeles The family eventually grew and Bill, Sr was constantly at work on one film or another His work allowed the family to keep a weekend home in coastal Ventura or with friends on Newport Beach By age ten, the surf called and William Finnegan was on a board for the first time Growing up in both California and Hawaii, Finnegan had many chances to surf on a nearly daily basis His skills improved each year to the point that by the end of high school, the waves called his attention so than academia After one year at University of California Santa Cruz, Finnegan rejoined his family in Hawaii and the life of a surfer By the time Finnegan reached his mid twenties, he has been disillusioned by academia completely Yet he pined for the endless wave and convinced a surfing acquaintance named Bryan Salvatore to embark with him on a two year adventure to the Southern Hemisphere chasing the perfect wave The two traveled to out of the way places as Fiji, Samoa, a stop in Australia, Indonesia, and Singapore They surfed waves as Tavarua, Fiji that today are known in the surfing community but in the 1970s were virtual unknown Both men got a flare for local life and took up writing, eventually leading years later to both writing for surfing and other respectable magazines Salvatore, being five years older than Finnegan, returned to the United States after two years, leaving him at a crossroads The spirit of adventure beckoned than surfing, as Finnegan traveled to South Africa where he taught English, Europe, and eventually home Surfing was always on his mind even if his journeys took him to landlocked countries While not a perpetual beach bum, Finnegan had become, in his father s words, hooked on the barbarian days of youth William Finnegan has written as a staff reporter for the New Yorker for the last thirty years He makes New York his home but embarks in at least one surfing vacation a winter to places like Portugal, Fiji, Mexico, and the Caribbean In each location he hones his journalistic skills by interacting with locals while also chasing the perfect wave This memoir was a change of pace for a Pulitzer winner and is than just about surfing Finnegan discusses the history of the sport, human conditions in diverse countries around the globe, and surfing as a metaphor for men chasing eternal youth Much has changed since Finnegan first started surfing including better equipment that allow for physically fit people to surf well into middle age Surfing has been for Finnegan like the fountain of youth although at this point he knows his limitations and does not try for the largest wave in the ocean Content with watching his daughter grow into adulthood, Finnegan has learned to balance surfing with family life Thinking that Barbarian Days would be about the life of a quintessential California beach bum, I had few expectations when I began this book I have found the Pulitzer winners I read to be well written even if the subject matter doesn t necessarily interest me Barbarian Days ended up being about how the baby boom generation has grappled with growing older as well as an overview of the history of surfing and a quasi travelogue If anything it has made me pine for the beach in the middle of winter and has me eager to read Pulitzer winners in the year to come 4 stars

  4. says:

    William Finnegan, has a sultry pleasant voice His voice alone was alluring.I enjoyed listening to the never ending surfing stories as I might a guided meditation..I often drifted into ozo land taking detours away from the spiritual path I didn t have the endurance to keep up with the Zen of Surfing God William Finnegan is a phenomenal writer blows my mind a surfer could be so lyrical and descriptive BUT THERE IS NO LET UP Very impressive ongoing ongoing and ongoing specific detail descriptions of Everything Surfing The ocean.a surfboard..waves.paddling.competitions.surfers obsessions surfers addictions a surfing life William s stories about his childhood living in Los Angles then Hawaii his family his personal self worth growing up his body concerns of being smaller and too thin as a young white boy living in Hawaii , his parents, siblings, his school days, friends, girls, books, almost as important to him as surfing , his relationship with surfing from early beginning days to advance, were all interesting..BUT.When he describes in details wave patterns I felt like he was speaking a foreign language Lots of surfing jargon SOME of it is BEAUTIFUL to listen to.AND..SOME of it becomes overwhelming nap time The end BUT.I LIKED THIS VERY WARM SWEET NATURED MAN I LIKED HIS COMPASSION..I LIKED THAT IS WAS SMART AS A WHIP.God no, I wasn t awake all 18 hours of surfing storytime.but I liked MUCH of it Our younger daughter Ali grew up surfing in Santa Cruz Ha, she cut her first period class in H.S a little too often because she was busy catching the waves before sunrise I was suppose to write her notes that said was at the dentist twice a week Haha 3.7 3.8 rounding up to 4 stars.

  5. says:

    The writing was so vivid that I ended up having nightmares about trying to learn how to surf I ll be coming back to this especially for the descriptions of surfing, reading the wind, and shapes of waves There s a great interweaving of politics of places as the author surfs through them, engaging with his decisions and his relationships with people in the moment and over time.

  6. says:

    Let s get this out of the way I don t know how to surf, I ve never been to Hawaii, and what little I do know of surfing was gleaned from watching cheesy movies like 1991 s Point Break and 1987 s North Shore To wit I am not the ideal audience for this memoir about a surfing life And yet, I really enjoyed this book For starters, it has some seriously gorgeous prose William Finnegan writes for The New Yorker and he won a Pulitzer Prize for Barbarian Days, which is how it came to my attention The memoir chronicles Finnegan s childhood spent in California and Hawaii, his stories of learning how to surf, making friends and enemies among the local gangs, and eventually of his adventures traveling around the world looking for great surfing spots My favorite stories in the book were about his dangerous surf outings I lost track of how many times he nearly died , of his travels with various friends and girlfriends, and of how he tries to balance his surfing obsession with being an adult who has a job and a family Surfers never grow old, it seems.If you like audiobooks, I highly recommend Finnegan s narration He has a beautiful, deep voice that is perfect for storytelling His voice reminded me of the actor John Slattery kinda dreamy This is a great ride of a book.Favorite Quote But surfing always had this horizon, this fear line, that made it different from other things, certainly from other sports I knew You could do it with friends, but when the waves got big, or you got into trouble, there never seemed to be anyone around Everything out there was disturbingly laced with everything else Waves were the playing field They were the goal They were the object of your deepest desire and adoration At the same time, they were your adversary, your nemesis, even your mortal enemy The surf was your refuge, your happy hiding place, but it was also a hostile wilderness a dynamic, indifferent world At thirteen, I had mostly stopped believing in God, but that was a new development, and it had left a hole in my world, a feeling that I d been abandoned The ocean was like an uncaring God, endlessly dangerous, power beyond measure.

  7. says:

    Barbarian Days A Surfing Life is the subtitle than the title that is, a surfing life To break it down further, it is life than surfing, as it follows William Finnegan from youngest years to the present day, from continent to continent, from schools to jobs, from here to eternity Is there a lot of surfing in that life Yes Is there a lot of life maybe too much life in this book Yes again.Meaning, I felt that 464 pages was a bit much Surprising, considering Finnegan is a New Yorker writer that is, if you subscribe to the notion that journalists, than novelists, are likely to stay on point and cut to the narrative bone There are enjoyable descriptions of the ocean and the surfers who like to ride it spread throughout the book There are also lulls where I kept looking deep for incoming swells.Admittedly, I may not be the best judge I have never surfed in my life Thus, I came to the book with romanticized notion and hoped for lyrical passages you d expect from a real writer s writer You know Hemingway Hangs Ten But really it was matter of fact Well written, yes Just overwritten, content wise In need of the famous editor Maxwell Perkins, maybe That said, if you are interested in the autobiography of a New Yorker writer whose greatest love has been surfing almost 500 pages worth you ll likely enjoy this journalist s tale At least his life is exciting than most certainly exciting and accomplished than mine Hat s off, then

  8. says:

    Barbarian Days reviewThis is a memoir built around surfing Despite knowing nothing about surfing I enjoyed most if it That s an accomplishment It s also got a great cover The book is split into three parts The first part, set in California and Hawaii, is the strongest It talks about Finnegan s childhood and his discovery of surfing If this were a superhero movie this would be the part where the protagonist discovers their powers Some of this was excerpted in The New Yorker and it s what drew me to the book Sketches of Hawaii interspersed with passages about surfing These, although cryptic, coalesced into a vivid picture of what makes surfing so exciting.In the middle of the book, Finnegan wanders around the world with his buddy Bryan surfing and traveling The organizing principle is, of course, surfing This actually seems like an excellent idea since it takes him off the beaten path to some interesting places But surfers are an introverted lot and the singleminded pursuit of waves leaves the reader feeling like Finnegan s missed the forest for the trees It s not culture that interests surfers Most stops on the journey are summarized by their breaks Fiji becomes Tavarua, Australia is Kirra and Indonesia turns into, well, not much since they don t manage to find any great surf spots there You ll never forget that you re reading a surfing book And we get a lot of it If this were a romantic comedy, this would be the part where those endearing quirks start turning into annoyances Finnegan redeems himself in the end with two long pieces One is about big wave surfing in San Francisco and another concerns Madeira, a Portuguese island off the coast of Africa The SF piece was also written for the New Yorker and I read it greedily after reading the Hawaii story The writing is relaxed and funny The jargon washes pleasantly over you You find the characters engaging If this were a dinner party you d be starting your third drink But it s just too long You have to commit to this guy like his wife committed to vacationing in surf spots It goes by pretty quickly but the good bits are overwhelmed by a relentless accretion of surfing For surfers it might be the opposite, too much life and not enough surfing There is a review of the book in Surfer magazine It s polite Great pictures though Maybe I m being too harsh when I say he s got a great face for radio he writes gripping magazine articles but a collection of magazine articles doesn t make a book I haven t read his other books but that s what I thought of this one.

  9. says:

    Barbarian Days is Finnegan s autobiography memoir of his life as a surfer His interest in surfing starts at a very young age in California and becomes a real passion when his family moves to Hawaii when he is in middle school.Finnegan states that surfers are perfectionists I don t know the others, but he certainly is one He spends most of his life almost till the end of his 40s searching for the perfect wave and perfect place to surf This journey takes him literally around the world many stops from Hawaii to South Africa to Australia to Portugal During his quest while he is trying to become the best version of his surfer archetype he is also collecting and publishing stories from island life, anti communist vs communist movements in Java, Indonesia and Polynesia, the apartheid in South Africa, civil war in El Salvador, etc.This book had the effect of fresh air on my brain Didn t know surfing was a serious business It even has its own jargon, which I liked I admired the writer for finding the energy and courage to pursue his passion for surfing, actively living his life, building a family and also being able to continue his career so successfully.

  10. says:

    Finn AgainThis book is not about moonlight on the bayou It s about structured water Water, and other media, muscled with vortices.