What We Are Reading Today: Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, by William Finnegan

What We Are Reading Today: Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, by William Finnegan
Updated 31 May 2018

What We Are Reading Today: Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, by William Finnegan

What We Are Reading Today: Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, by William Finnegan

This week, a rare breed of thrill-seekers gathered on a tiny remote Fijian island in the South Pacific.

Among them were some of the most prominent names in big-wave surfing.

The congregation had tracked a purple blob on the swell forecasting models as it pulsed out from a fierce storm in the Southern Ocean, destined to strike a slab of coral reef known as Cloudbreak.

First the images, and then the videos, started to filter out on to social media.

Tiny figures crouched low on their surfboards, dwarfed by and encased in towering caverns of deep blue water.

For one day, the surfers caught some of the biggest waves ever surfed at Cloudbreak.

The scenes were a far cry from when William Finnegan arrived at the island in 1978, following a tip-off from a yacht that had passed by and reported a perfect surf break.

Finnegan was among the first to surf there and spent weeks camped on the nearest island, cut off from civilization and indulging in his obsession.

That obsession is the focus of his brilliant Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir “Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life.”

The book fills the reader with youthful wanderlust, explains the strange intricacies of the cult of surfing and reminds of a time when the world still held some unexplored corners.