Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan - review by Andy Martin

Andy Martin

Liquid Cathedrals

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life


Corsair 464pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

William Finnegan makes slowcoach Donna Tartt look like Usain Bolt. He once took eight years to write a single article for the New Yorker, thus blowing her ten for The Goldfinch right out of the water. His book Barbarian Days took him almost an entire lifetime to write (he is now over sixty and still surfing). It was definitely worth the wait. On the other hand, I’m not holding my breath for volume two.

As I read through this far-ranging, unique and bewitching memoir, I kept on thinking, Finnegan, c’est moi! Who else has surfed Uluwatu (Bali), Jeffreys Bay (South Africa) and the North Shore (Hawaii) and written reasonably grammatical sentences about it? Not to mention interviewing that Sandinista poet in Nicaragua back in the 1980s? But let me admit the main difference between us: he is a far, far better

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