Mixed Plate
Book Report: Surfing's Greatest Misadventures: Dropping In on the Unexpected (07/06)

Surfing's Greatest Misadventures: Dropping In on the Unexpected, edited by Paul Diamond (2006).

Many months ago, I remember Paul Diamond inquiring for submissions for this book. I wasn't sure if my writing would qualify, but I tried anyway. It was respectfully declined. However, I was generously offered to review the book by the publisher.

Surfing's Greatest Misadventures: Dropping In on the Unexpected is a compilation of 30 true short stories (with some images) written by many different surfers from around the globe. Although it is a somewhat thick 288 pages in length, the stories are short and reader-friendly, and I gobbled down the book quickly.

Right off the bat in the Introduction, the editor expresses that the title could be misconstrued. Misadventure is a word that is "all-encompassing and much misunderstood," while greatest is a superlative that not everyone will agree on. Okay.

The stories are loosely divided into seven categories, and their breadth captures a good cross-section of the surfing experience. They include: Sharks; Big Water, Big Trouble; Long-Distance Crossings; The Old Days; Surf Safari Meltdown; Conspiring Coincidences; Characters and Character.

On the topic of sharks, the Bethany Hamilton story was quite inspirational (though way overplayed already). However, the Transkei article was seriously gruesome and almost makes me not want to ever surf South Africa.

The Indonesian Tsunami was covered in the story Lesson Six, where some tourists were learning how to surf in Sri Lanka. It was a harrowing tale of a couple separated, then reunited amidst the carnage on the other side of the Indian Ocean.

I think my favorite individual story was 'Fraidy Cat by Matt George, which fell under the Conspiring Coincidences category. Even though only peripherally related to surfing, it still gave me chicken skin (goosebumps).

However, the one that really turned me off was the Homeless Surf Challenge. I found that one to be extremely tasteless and inappropriate.

Stepping back, maybe the stories actually are a fair representation of the heroism and folly of surfers. Whether these stories are the greatest, or if they are even misadventures is debatable. Regardless, the book is still a good read.


More Review/Links