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Surf & Moon

surfing in the moon light

Usually I’m really good at making all of my selections fit together, have a theme, or at least finding some sort of vague way to bind them together, but this time I’m really not sure what that is. Here we have three stories that seemingly have nothing in common. A story of a life spent surfing (and eventually writing) sounds like heaven to me, but to the author made him feel at times lost, because he had spent his life chasing waves instead of stability, family, and the comforts of home. The story of a girl with a traumatic childhood past, who tried to bury that and start a new life, only to eventually realize that running only leads you back to where you started.  And finally a story of the dull boredom and Zen like stillness that is left behind after the chaos and excitement of a new beginning has worn off, the aftermath of great ambition, if you will. These are the three stories I’ve chosen to write about this blog post and perhaps the theme here is simply just, me. All of these poignant tales in some way seem to fit into my life at the moment. Maybe getting older has me musing over where I thought I would be versus where I am, learning to embrace the inner childlike me with the balance of being an adult sans the dreams and beliefs of childhood, and lastly remembering that chasing excitement is tiring and sometimes just being is the best thing we can do.     


Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life book cover

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan

I am pretty much a surfing poser. I fell head over heels in love with the beach at first glance at 5 years old, and my first crush was not of a real boy but a slick photo of a blonde tousled haired, tanned skin surfer boy that I ripped out of some glossy Tween magazine and hung on the back of my closet door. I still vaguely remember the photo with the beach and sand in the background and I still pretty much have a crush not only on that boy in that photograph but on the ocean behind him. I’ve always wanted to learn to surf and it still very high up on my list of things to do in life, but of course being landlocked makes that difficult. I’m not a poser in the sense that I go out and buy surf gear and clothing to carry around with me, BUT I do have a healthy obsession/fascination with all things surfing and since I can’t actually get out to the waves every day I spend a great deal of time reading surfing memoirs and watching surfing documentaries. This book was written by lifelong surfer who is also a writer for the New Yorker. I personally loved this book because it chronicled his entire surfing career starting from California & Hawaii as a child and the following the wave to the South Pacific, Australia, Asia, Africa, San Francisco and finally New York. It is not only a book about surfing but a book about the Earth, travel, friendship, and becoming who you are. Incidentally this book won the Pulitzer Prize for biography/autobiography in 2016, so don’t just take my word for it here, as I am not the only one who thinks it is wonderful!

Pull Me Under book cover

Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce

Pull Me Under has hands down some of the best art work I have ever seen on a book cover. While this book was recommended to me by a coworker I would have hands down read this story for the cover art alone. The cover is black and white, with the dark body of a woman either removing a light colored mask or putting it on. Not only is this a striking cover on its own, after reading the story it also fits so well with the main character who spends the novel struggling with who she was in her past , who she thought she was, and who she is becoming. This quick little page turner is probably the closest I'll get to reading a mystery novel (it is still considered fiction) as it chronicles the travels and explorations of Rio as she ties together the events of her past and seeks to find answers after the death of her father. This is a story of childhood bulling, murder, healing and loss. What I liked best about the book is the insight it gives to Japan and Japanese culture!

Mooncop book cover

Mooncop by Tom Gauld

Per usual I’m throwing in a graphic novel, and in honor of the moon eclipsing the sun on August 21, this one is the sweetest, loneliest little story of a cop that polices the moon. I love all those 1950/60s movies and TV shows that showed blobs from outer space terrorizing 1950s America small town teens, or the atomic mid century styled TV shows where humans traveled through space visiting other planets, falling in and out of love (in a very sexist way looking back), and fighting otherworldly villains with a fashion sense I can’t get enough of. It seems like those were the days when humans dreamed fantastically about living on the moon, and the possibility seemed hopeful and exciting and tangible in some ways. Mooncop not a story about that happening, BUT instead a story that takes place during what happens AFTER everyone decides the moon isn’t the place to be and leaves to go back to earth. Mooncop is the last man on the moon, policing a now empty space, one of melancholy and peace. A funny little story that is both written to be somewhat amusing, yet also strangely Zen like only true silence can be.


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