Barbarian Days Analysis

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William Finnegan is excellent writer captures the flavor of growing up in the 60's and learning certain realities of how the world works. Barbarian Days is all about a surfing life. Skate-boarder, body-surfer, mat-rider, surfer, as one who did all of those activities many years ago in Central California and then swerved off the path due to crowds and other life responsibilities. Here William Finnegan expands on that piece and tell the story of his life-long passion for the sport. From his early life in California and Hawaii to an extend sojourn across Southern Asia and Australia, to South Africa, to vacation in Madeira (Portugal), to first San Francisco and then Montauk Point and the vicinity of New York City, while he pursued his writing…show more content…
The watery descriptions are so vivid you can taste the salt, even when the going gets so tough, its hard to understand why the hell anything but a fish would be out in such major surf. While many tails about summiting mountains, distance swimming in open oceans or surfing waves "three refrigerators high" seem rather tall, Barbarian Days stays grounded in factual detail. The in-depth descriptions approach meditations on ocean currents, winds, reefs, surfing technique and surf board models, and yet fails to explain the question why. Certainly not the pursuit of glory, the author makes clear. Despite popular misconceptions, in the early days, the original surf culture downplayed heroics; boasts were bad form and showing off on a wave was as uncool as scoring points in a contest. In a sort of "right stuff" tone, Barbarian Days captures the authentic experience, without romance or glamour and portrays surfing as a cold, solitary test of courage. Though the author tells all, starting with his teenage addiction to waves, a mystery hangs over the book. Why freeze in stormy waters for eight hours, or summit peaks or struggle with a terminal disease against insurmountable odds? Is it human or superhuman to push the limits of tolerance when agony seems prevalent and ecstasy elusive? I once asked a three-time channel swimmer what kept him going in the cold dark
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