Mixed Plate
Quickie Book Reviews 2

30 Years of Riding the World's Biggest Waves, Fred Van Dyke
Very fragmented and awkwardly sequenced passages. Font made it looks like a random series of journal entries. Admission that book is part fact, part fiction really makes book lose some of its potential impact. I thought it was poorly written considering he was a schoolteacher.

That said, I found this book extremely entertaining. The seal stories were surreal (especially since I've had some interaction of my own). But Fred delved into some interesting topics and personalities. Ala Moana, a secret spot? Get out of here!

The most interesting to me was the many wipeout references. Fred was very frank in his descriptions on what wipeouts did to your mind and how fear eventually catches up to you. I found these passages the most intriguing.

Despite the poor structure, I liked the book. Two thumbs up! [Link]

The Tribes of Palos Verdes, Joy Nicholson
I really had to force myself to finish this book. More a rich family's recipe for divorce through an adolescent's eyes than a surf novel. I hope I'm wrong on this, but the casual sex and drug references seemed unreal and contrived. It perpetuated the notion of the druggy surfer types. Most of the surf references seemed like the writer knew nothing of the sport and asked for assistance on the Internet. And what's this "hang loose sign?" [link]

The Big Drop: Classic Big Wave Surfing Stories, edited by John Long
I already read most of these stories since they were excerpted from various other surfing publications. It is scary reading for someone leaving his prime behind (in one fell swoop). Dating the penned date of writing more explicitly would have put each story in better perspective. However, overall it is an excellent read, with lots of machismo, fear and introspection into this elite subsport.

A few primo b&w photos peppered throughout the book truly enforce the intensity of the stories. The tow-in madness is so surreal. The final words from my buddy Peter Cole is classic! [Link]

In Search of Captain Zero: A Surfer's Road Trip Beyond the End of the Road, Allan C. Weisbecker
[My full review]

Surf Rage: A Surfer's Guide to Turning Negatives into Positives, introduced by Nat Young
[My full review]

Surfer's Guide to Hawaii (1991), Greg Ambrose
As with most guidebooks, I found this one very hard to read from cover-to-cover. The descriptions of the surf breaks were fairly accurate, given my experiences, but the words were sometimes overly expressive and flowery. It seemed tailored more to a tourist or casual surfer rather than a more experienced waverider. The surfspot illustrations with icon indexes provided excellent quick references of the waves. One disappointment was the omission of several marquee breaks (Ala Moana Bowls and Sunset were mysteriously MIA), along with the inclusion of some secret spots that might've been better kept anonymous.

Greg has solid credentials, being the former longtime surf reporter for the Honolulu Star Bulletin (I could swear he used to spell his name "Gregg"). After this book was published, he moved to the West Coast (coincidence?). (Btw, of the 54 surfspots featured, I've ridden 34 of them.) [link]

Surfing Hawaii: The Ultimate Guide to the World's Most Challenging Waves (2000), Leonard and Lorca Lueras
Another guidebook on surfing in the islands. This one is actually quite readable, with not only surf spot info, but some decent historical and anecdotal stories. The Lueras were smart in employing local surfers from each of the islands to describe their own breaks, yet still managed to maintain a consistent read. It actually is laid out similar to one of those travel guidebooks like Fodor's.

The surfspot information is very accurate, but lacks a quick reference conditions guide. They readily admit that much is omitted out of respect to local surfers and challenge the readers to discover Hawaii for themselves.

The book has some exceptional photos, both old and new. It was immediately obvious that it was printed in Southeast Asia (Singapore). [link]

Cosmic Banditos, Allan C. Weisbecker
[My full review]