It was anything but. It was therapeutic, a place to fall apart and feel a little better.". You should be! If President Trump had a reading list, Finnegan would not be on it. But they tend to involve some degree of competition, of a pretty primitive type, and that’s what I can’t imagine changing. Even more improbably, he does so without losing credibility among other surfers. But I think that in English it’s the adjective “barbaric” that we associate with the worst sort of human violence (though not in that epigraph you mention, of course — more in polemic and in journalism). He was recently in Europe and San Sebastián, where he collected a literary prize awarded by Basque Country booksellers, and later spoke at the city’s aquarium at the invitation of the council. These days, when he's not reporting overseas or surfing the Jersey shore, Finnegan spends his free time at a climbing gym in Queens. She was the hero of my first published book, “Some barbarians are excellent at sharing — better than capitalists, certainly.”. I meant that surfing is mediocre as drama for non-surfers. That’s interesting to hear that the news that Mark hated my piece read as casual. Finnegan will speak at Readings Hawthorn (Melbourne) on July 31, Adelaide on August 1, Berkelouw Mona Vale (Sydney) on August 2, Newcastle on August 3 and Byron Bay Writers' Festival August 5-7. In autumn, they watch hurricanes wreaking havoc in the Caribbean and hope they'll reach the eastern seaboard. He has twice been a National Magazine Award finalist and has won numerous journalism awards, including two Overseas Press Club awards since 2009. But then the story William Finnegan had to tell wasn’t a particularly likely one either, even if the full … Arggh. She is 14, four years older than Finnegan when he started surfing. He and Di Salvatore cadged a ride with local fishermen and lived alone, subsisting on tinned pork and beans, fresh papaya and daily communion with the sea. They reckoned seven other surfers shared the secret, and gave it a code name – "da kine" – to keep it that way. I don’t find the scoring of rides all that fascinating or fair, but I’m sometimes keen to see who wins, sure, and I’m rooting for my fave. Which is not to say that mine are any good, just that it’s worth trying to write them. Kirra had a phenomenal wave: a huge, hollow right that started up around Boxing Day, when the cyclone swells hit. "You could just hear the fear in my voice," he says. I also cut some bits that I knew had particularly stung or annoyed him. His first short piece, about his experience living in Sri Lanka, was published in Mother Jones in 1979. I wish I had gone over the passages about her with her before publication. After the talk, I found him in a dimly lit aquarium corridor as he contemplated a particularly venomous scorpionfish. Credit:Andrew Purcell. Finnegan has returned to the island as a paying guest several times, and is honest enough to admit that his wrestling match with guilt was short and one-sided, even when Fijian surfers were barred from the wave. And when it goes well it creates something that can give pleasure and meaning to large numbers of people over the long haul. Barbarian Days is full of close calls: waves in Hawaii and Madeira and California that hold Finnegan down long enough for him to wonder whether he will come up again. Some barbarians are excellent at sharing — better than capitalists, certainly. Reading this guy on the subject of waves and water is like reading Hemingway on bullfighting; William Burroughs on controlled substances; Updike on adultery… Finnegan is a virtuoso wordsmith, but the juice propelling this memoir is wrung from the quest that shaped him… A piscine, picaresque coming-of-age story, seen through the gloss resin coat of a surfboard. In his mid ‘20s, Finnegan became one of the very first surfers to ride the wave later named Restaurants. “These questions, not to put too fine a point on it, are shite,” came his reply. This, too, seems spot-on — a contradiction intrinsic to the (serious) surfer’s lot, yes. Beyrick Thulani De Vries - The White Zulu, Surf Europe Podcast Episode 9 | Mondy Plumbs New Depths of Cynicism. But I can watch a WSL webcast for hours, yes, when the surf is pumping, and you probably can too, because we’re used to lulls, and are ever-hopeful that something amazing may soon happen. American investors had turned Tavarua into a luxury resort. Still, the thrust of the story is the same, and the depiction of his place, as I came to understand it, in the little community of Ocean Beach surfing that I knew in the 80’s, is the same. "They were better journal-keepers than I was. It would be so ironic if I broke the vow I made in print and drowned on podcast.'". Worried that he might be tiring of long-winded interviews about his most recent book, I foolishly attempted to steer things in the direction of puerility, sending him a list of brief and desultory questions. I'm not gonna go. In this talk, Finnegan explores the background and stories behind the book, as well as the pleasures and pitfalls of memoir as a genre. They study forecasts and buoy data, and keep surf cams open on their desktop, ready to drop everything at the sight of a big swell and an offshore wind. With surfing, colour falls away.”, We test and review the best surfing board shorts on the market for summer 2017, Tuberiding school for beginners and experts. William Finnegan is an award-winning reporter, a staff writer at, William Finnegan travels from New York, NY, Adventure and the Great Outdoors Speakers, “Surf Europe Meets | ‘Barbarian Days’ Pulitzer Winning Author William Finnegan”, “William Finnegan on Surf Writing and Winning a Pulitzer”, “A Lifelong Surfer Explains Why There’s No Such Thing As A ‘Perfect’ Wave”. His wide-angle curiosity and sympathies open up new worlds with self-deprecating humor and sensitivity. I like some books far more than I do most people.”, “…my favorite little stories about the good old days were either fact-challenged or just plain wrong. Learn More. I think not. …Barbarian Days offers a clear-eyed vision of American boyhood. "She's a beautiful climber," he says. In the mid-'80s, he was living in San Francisco, near Ocean Beach, when The New Yorker commissioned a profile of Renneker, a doctor and fanatically evangelical surfer. Finnegan began contributing to The New Yorker in 1984 and has been a staff writer there since 1987. I even enjoy the lulls. Through the sheer intensity of his descriptive powers and the undeniable ways in which surfing has shaped his life, Barbarian Days is an utterly convincing study in the joy of treating seriously an unserious thing… As Finnegan demonstrates, surfing, like good writing, is an act of vigilant noticing. he yelled, as the stranger disappeared behind the spray. And yes, it was also a matter of realizing where my strengths and interests as a writer lay. He can talk about his double life as a journalist, covering civil wars and international organized crime, and his far-flung adventures as a serious surfer. It’s a fair question, a fair comparison. Finnegan is a sincere and funny speaker. WILLIAM FINNEGAN is the author of Cold New World, A Complicated War, Dateline Soweto, and Crossing the Line. WF: Blessedly, no, not a one. As they drove west across Australia from Kirra in an overheating Ford Falcon, Finnegan and Di Salvatore subjected a pile of New Yorkers to "the outback test", reading them aloud and criticising pretension and false notes. In addition to his work as a journalist, Finnegan is the author of the memoir Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, which received the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Autobiography and was one of the most acclaimed nonfiction books of the year. His descriptions of surfing have been compared to Ernest Hemingway's paeans to bullfighting, but that two-word review is his favourite. I don't know if I could surf it now. For the past three decades, William Finnegan has been a staff writer at The New Yorker and has reported on a host of contemporary global issues, writing primarily about politics, war, poverty, race, U.S. foreign policy, political Islam, and globalization, but also punk rock, the Olympics, and surfing. It sounds like you’ve read some of my stuff, including, possibly. Now you’re using “barbaric” in the bad sense, as in vicious, winner-take-all. Finnegan's experience in South Africa transformed him from a novelist to a political journalist. Yes, I enjoy the irony of winning a big journalism prize, after decades of hard reporting, for writing something about my hobby. But you remind me of the reaction that an old friend in Cape Town had when I told her the title of the book. When Hurricane Irene passed through, in August 2011, William (Bill) Finnegan drove to a jetty he knows, slipped into the ocean and surfed alone all day as sirens wailed and lights flashed on the shore. Others he had almost to himself. Over a couple of gin and tonics at Gabriel's restaurant in uptown Manhattan, he tells me how he finally got around to combining his life's two passions: writing and surfing. Barbarian Days is published by Hachette Australia at $24.99. I actually wrote quite a bit more about his displeasure, even quoting from a long, angry, eloquent letter he wrote me, and arguing with him where I thought he had it wrong, while conceding other points — but that material was all cut, on the advice of my editor. Think of the Slater-Fanning final at big clean Cloudbreak a few years back — they both surfed great, but Slater was clearly in a different league, even possibly peaking as a surfer, thinking and reacting and drawing lines on a level extremely rare even for him. Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life received the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Autobiography. There was also a ton of fact-checking to do, and the frequent discovery that my favorite little stories about the good old days were either fact-challenged or just plain wrong. Two years ago, he was scared enough by a bad wipeout in Makaha, on the western shore of O'ahu, to tell himself (and an interviewer) that he was done with big wave surfing for good. A legendary tube on Nias, off the western coast of Sumatra, has been better than ever since an earthquake raised the reef in 2005. Podders Paul and Ben are back with Episode 9 surfing’s favourite broadcast of any kind! From Rincon to Honolua Bay, Nias to Malibu, Jeffreys Bay to Padang-Padang, Finnegan has surfed the world's most famous breaks. I think you’ve pretty well nailed it. “It’s communication, not masturbation, at least when it goes well. It took Finnegan seven years to finish the article. I do use “barbarian” to mean unregulated (to use your word) but not necessarily ruthless, not at all. His skin has been baked and brined, his body battered on reefs and rocks, but at 63 years old Finnegan still has a long, powerful, surfer's frame. I kept hearing in France just now that the French word “barbares” has more violent connotations than what I intended, even that it’s associated with Nazism. That was even true when I profiled Mark. The unpleasant lineups aren’t likely to get better — although I have seen places where the worst old reprobates lost their edge and retired from the fray, and the next generation was mellower. Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. It does some practitioners some good — it can make you happy, make you fit, perhaps open up your world. I returned to the US keen to write non-fiction about the history then being made in southern Africa and elsewhere. Perhaps surfing double-overhead Honolua whilst off one’s tits on acid was par for the course among sunburnt pagans in the 1970s, but probably not. I keep studying the videos and saying 'I coulda done when I was 25, but could I do it at 63?'. It’s an unlikely story. He and his friend Bryan Di Salvatore — who in another unlikely coincidence would end up, like Finnegan, on the staff of The New Yorker — had it to themselves for weeks. Finnegan's 2015 memoir, Barbarian Days, won the Pulitzer Prize for biography.