Book details lure of surfBy Greg Ambrose
SurfRiders: In Search of the Perfect Wave: By Matt Warshaw, 133 pages, Tehabi Books, $20
FORGET the lavish use of riveting contemporary and archival action photos, and forget that the author isn't pleased with some of the art choices and layout decisions made by the publisher. "SurfRiders" is an amazing contradiction, an easy read that provides tremendous insight into the arcane world of surfing.
San Francisco author Matt Warshaw has written more cogent words about surfing than any other human. He is in big demand when some event brings surfing to the attention of the mainstream media and journalists who don't get it grapple with this pastime.
Drawing on years as editor of Surfer magazine and a lifelong addiction to the painful pleasures of surfing, Warshaw provides a rare glimpse into the elusive soul of surfing that is at once eloquent and intensely personal.
To get a handle on a boundless, ineffable subject, Warshaw divides the surfing experience into six segments that portray the evolution (devolution to some purists) of the sport/lifestyle/pastime.
Surfing's export to the world through the travels of gold medal Olympian and beloved surfing ambassador Duke Kahanamoku; the spread of surf fever planet-wide as surfers went on surfari seeking unspoiled (uncrowded) waves; the commercialization and competitive zeal that has transformed a simple pursuit of pleasure; the changing art/commerce of creating the perfect hydrofoil so surfers can transfer wave energy into flights of fancy; taking the quest for splendid isolation to the unridden realm of huge waves on distant reefs; and a calabash chapter that makes a valiant attempt to define that seeming oxymoron of surf culture, all combine to provide a comprehensive look at the surfing phenomenon.
But the message that Warshaw never overtly articulates while repeating subliminally is that regardless of how lucrative an industry the sale of the surfing lifestyle becomes, wave riding remains an intensely private affair between wave rider and ocean.
50 Years of Surfing on Film: The Surfer's Journal, $29.95 at Strong Current Haleiwa
THE Surfer's Journal has the perfect item for the wave rider who would rather view surf history than read about it. "50 Years of Surfing on Film" has four volumes filled with rare and classic footage from the collections of the pioneers who captured surfing's colorful characters and outrageous waves on film and video.
Better yet, filmmakers from the venerable Greg Noll, John Severson, Bruce Brown and Greg MacGillivray to the still-cranking Jack McCoy, Scott Dittrich and Taylor Steele share their personal insights and candid comments on the surf heroes and rogues who have made surfing such an intriguing lifestyle.
There is no less-painful way to relive, or discover, the traditions, incidents and cultural icons that have shaped modern surfing.
Snorkel Hawaii: By Judy and Mel Malinowski, 128 pages. Indigo Publications, $14.95
FUNNY thing about Judy and Mel Malinowski. They live in Northern California, and are certified scuba divers who have traveled to more than 50 countries around the planet. Yet they prefer the freedom of snorkeling, and they keep coming back to Hawaii.
The result of their love affair with Hawaii is a series of exceptional guidebooks to the best snorkeling sites in Hawaii. With simple prose that is eloquent with aloha, their books are extended love letters to Hawaii's best reefs.
The authors preach respect for moana and aina, and gush over the more extravagant snorkeling sites while warning of problems.
Detailed and accurate maps and charts can put even a hopeless twit in the right spot for a delightful diving adventure, and the text leaves readers with a sense of history, Hawaiian culture, geography, oceanography and aloha.
They have achieved a rare balance in presenting essential elementary information to help beginners, and insightful revelations to keep experts interested.
Their series includes books about the Big Island and Maui, but the Malinowskis are happily plunging into field research to cover the rest of the islands.
Waxing the Lunar Mountain Apple: By Steven Curry, 98 pages, Anoai Press, $9.95
FOR those who wonder what would result if an English professor were addicted to night surfing, Anoai Press offers "Waxing the Lunar Mountain Apple."
Steven Curry teaches English at the University of Hawaii-Manoa by day, and waits patiently for waves in the moonlight at Queens. While waiting, his mind wanders through some dreamy mindscapes, which brings back poetry when it returns from its journeys.
Curry also brings back free-form, nonrhyming musings from the twilight terrain of dreams. Although Curry never explains the significance of the book's title, diligent readers will find clues scattered throughout his poetry.