Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan

Chris Woodall | 2017-04-27

[William Finnegan’s] book Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life follows the authors obsession with surfing, from his childhood to adulthood with a long section of being a surf bum in between. I have never surfed, but I found myself being dragged into the lingo and culture and really yearning in a way for that open life adventure. For me climbing fits a similar role in my life, I know to some degree it is pointless, yet I come back to it and it keeps providing something for me. This is Finnegan’s well of inspiration, even at those periods where he leaves the sport, and each time he comes back it brings him something new.

Another thing that Barbarian Days’s highlights are the characters who find themselves so hopelessly entrenched in an activity like surfing. They are strange, often brilliant, individuals from a variety places. Some of them are professors, doctors, and intellectuals, and some are railroad workers; however, all of them become overwhelmed with their desire to surf. This book is not just a surfing book, it is a book about obsession, life and passion. I also enjoyed the deep intuition for waves and form which surfing gave Finnegan, and he is able to portray through the book.