"Be careful when opening this book," writes American author Lewis Buzbee in an added letter, "inside is a tiny sliver of wood, which is a veneer from the original planking of the Western Flyer, the boat Steinbeck used for this journey." Gifts like these make me a grateful and happy sea librarian.
For Umi, life on the lush and colorful islands of Hawaii is about as average as it can be. As commoners, he and his brothers spend their days weeding the taro field, fishing in the sparkling blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, and dreaming of the delicious foods and thrilling games that are reserved only for the chiefs and priests. But late one night, when everyone is supposed to be asleep, Umi's longing for adventure gets the best of him.
This book is about waves. It is the story of an obsession, a journey through heaven and hell, the clumsy initiation of an outsider, the author himself, into a cult and a culture. It is also an oblique history of the world, a human comedy on waves, that will find an echo in anyone who has fallen prey to the spell of the ocean. Surfing is less a sport than a state of mind, an adventure in mythology, a religion with its own high priests and ritual sacrifices.