Tag Archives: surf lit

Review: Night Beach

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Night Beach by Kirsty Eagar

Penguin Group Australia, 2012

I borrowed this from the library with zero expectations – or rather, with fairly low expectations – because it looks like the sort of YA paranormal romance that I’d generally turn my nose up at. I picked it up because it had the word ‘beach’ in the title and there’s mention of a surfboard in the first page, and I’m always looking for writing about surfing to inspire my own novel. There’s a lot of bad writing about surfing out there. Like, people getting barrelled on their first lesson. I wish.

But this book – I was hooked. Right from the first page. Kirsty Eagar can clearly write about surfing, and beach life, and oceans.

The sand is crusted over from the rain yesterday and crunches under my feet, and I keep telling myself it’ll be warmer in the water.

Yes.

A line of surfers is strung out like a necklace, from the point, all the way down to the south bank. The swell is from the east; each wave face held up by the wind for an impossible long time; each crest ripped backwards into long strands of spray.

Yes yes yes.

I quickly flicked to the ‘About the author’ page and saw that she lives on Sydney’s northern beaches and surfs every day, and her first book Raw Blue won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction in 2010. OK, I was looking at the book with new eyes now.

I thought it was brilliant. Not just the surfing scenes (which I loved), but the characterisation, the dialogue, the subplots. I loved the black dog and the kid she babysits. I like that the main character is introverted, obsessed and anxious. The story quite quickly turned dark, and was creepy enough to give me goosebumps in bed and to make the hair stand up on the back of my neck when reading on the train on the way to work. It’s not a paranormal romance at all. It’s a dark and twisted horror – it’s about loneliness, and sexuality, and wanting, and obsessions, and nightmares, and, from the blurb, ‘the dark things that feed the creative process’.

I don’t read horror, at all, (since Goosebumps, at least), but I just went with it. It’s not perfect – it felt a little repetitive sometimes with Abbie looking for Kane, chasing Kane, then running away from Kane, then looking for him again, and I just had to gloss over how many times it seemed Kane would admit to something and then straight after not acknowledge it again (but I guess that was his character). But I have to say I was happy with the *spoiler* fact that she chooses not to hook up with him at the end, and I did like that the surrealist elements weren’t explained away as some sort of stress disorder, like was hinted part way through.

Here are some more beach/surf snippets.

There’s a black dog lying on the [abandoned] couch, guarding a towel and set of keys, staring out at the surf like she’s worried. When she sees me, her tail thumps on the busted vinyl, and she licks her lips and wriggles, but she stays on that couch like she’s been nailed to it.

Give me summer. Give me dry, hot northerlies and green water that’s oily with sunscreen and sweat.

They all look the same to me, hands in pockets, legs astride, hoodies and beanies pulled on, hunkered down for winter. Faarkin’ this and faarkin’ that.

Smash the lip, gash the face, carve, cutback, ripping – it’s all about leaving your mark, being a man, dominating the wave.

And here are the artworks that are referred to throughout.

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Brett Whiteley, ‘Henri’s Armchair’

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Brett Whiteley, ‘Thebes’ Revenge’

mystery-and-melancholy-of-a-street-1914

Georgio de Chirico, ‘The Mystery and Melancholy of a Street’

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Dorothea Tanning, ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’

Dawn after the Wreck c.1841 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Courtauld Institute Gallery, London http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/TW0501

Dawn after the Wreck c.1841 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Courtauld Institute Gallery, London http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/TW0501

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Review: Lockie Leonard Human Torpedo

9780141307305Lockie Leonard Human Torpedo by Tim Winton

Penguin Books Australia, 1990

Yep, it’s summer and I’m on a middle grade/ YA surf reading spree. I actually loved this book. I really appreciated it but I don’t think teenage boys quite would:  it’s a bit… almost literary? A bit old-fashioned. I love the voice — snappy and masculine — but to me it sounds more like Tim Winton’s childhood than a modern day one.

Lockie Leonard, hot surf-rat, is in love. The human torpedo is barely settled into his new school, and already he’s got a girl on his mind. And not just any girl: it has to be Vicki Streeton, the smartest, prettiest, richest girl in the class. What chance have you got when your dad’s a cop, your mum’s a frighteningly understanding parent, your brother wets the bed and the teachers take an instant dislike to you and then you fall in love at twelve-and-three-quarter years old? It can only mean trouble, worry, mega-embarrassment and some wild, wild times.

Sentences I found funny

“The Leonards called Lockie the Human Torpedo because he took so long to get out of bed in the morning. Actually Lockie was slow at almost everything…”

“Lockie’s method of eating Weetbix was truly, awesomely foul. Let me just say that it involved a lot of milk, an overripe banana, and a spud masher.”

“Lockie’s mum was the serious sort. She liked to be involved; she was concerned, conscientious. She’d even been to Parent Effectiveness Training and for a few weeks after that she was just a flaming nuisance.”

“He went to school with a great daggy smile on his face like he’d come half-stoned from the dentist.”

[Trying to get his wetsuit off] “He pulled up from the front and got his arms pinned to his chest. No good. He pulled the vest down again and tried reaching back behind him and he ended up looking like a dumb 13-year-old pashing on with himself inside a bag.”

“I’m nuts,” he told himself. “I am a flamin’ fruitcake.”

Surf stuff:

“Genuine surf rat, grommet extraordinaire.”

“He picks off the second without any trouble. He took the drop loose-kneed and casual, taking out a wide, leaning bottom turn before hammering back up at the lip. As he swung round off the top again, he saw the hairy kid dropping in from the shoulder. You rotten mongrel, he thought.”

“It was a foul day, no argument. Southerly wind, no surf, and school tomorrow.”

“The air was colder than the water and his teeth were doing First Year Typing like they’d never heard of liquid paper.”

“The sun was almost down as he caught his last wave, leaning and cutting across its orange glistening surface as it rolled towards the beach like the twist in a great monster’s tail. His hand trailed in the smooth wall; he tossed his head back and hooted as the pitching funnel of its insides shot him down the line. He wasn’t thinking of anything. He didn’t need to.”

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Review: Blue Water High

blue-water-highBlue Water High by Shelley Birse

Pan Australia, 2008

This was a TV show first, and following its success the screenwriter adapted the episodes to make a novel. Overall, I really enjoyed the book. It’s a bit old for what I’m doing (the characters are 15-16), and I found the narration jumped around a bit, but the stakes were high and the characters were likeable.

For me the best bits were the surfing descriptions, and all descriptions of the beach and water:

“Watching the currents sucking in and out, like some huge water-breathing dragon was snoozing just off the coast.”

“She cruised down the back of the first wave and found herself with front row tickets for the Stacey Jervis show.”

“It didn’t matter how many times Fly did it, this was the moment, this frozen crystal in time, where nature and physics and gravity were in charge. It never failed to make her beam.”

And throwaway metaphors/similes:

“She stared at the computer … until her eyes were red and square and had their own screensaver.”

Characterisation:

“She’d packed half-heartedly, almost embarrassed to pretend it might come true.”

“She was a world champion blusher. She could cook up twelve shades of beetroot in under 5 seconds.”

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