Kirkus Reviews QR Code
CAUGHT INSIDE by Daniel Duane


A Surfer's Year on the California Coast

by Daniel Duane

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-86547-494-X
Publisher: North Point/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

 Duane (Lighting Out, 1994) is a surf hound, doubtless, but he explores a whole lot more than great green rooms of tubular water in this testament to an obsession. The narrative starts with Duane drowning, nearly, pounded by the waters of the Point, his chosen venue, a slice of the Pacific Ocean off Monterey Bay. Neither new to surfing nor a veteran, Duane wanted to spend an intimate year with the waves, to feel their soothing, healing effects and astounding violence, to live the surfer's life. But sliding down the water's face is only part of the process; he wanted the whole zeitgeist, and he delivers it with easy precision. The technicalities are handled with aplomb: how to craft a board, from the old 18-foot Hawaiian prototypes to today's 7-foot shredding marvels; how to interpret the color of the water, the vectors of wind and swell. He conveys a physicist's appreciation of wave forms--frequencies and amplitudes and periods, energy as measured by joules per second. He is an appreciative audience for the natural world during walks to the beach, seeing and describing mustard and hemlock, cougar and bird. On the water, he explains traffic rules and pecking orders (more than once falling foul of the strictures); up and running he dips a ``finger in the water just to believe it's happening, and feel the light joy of effortless, combustion-free speed''; surrounded by a pipe of water, he ``physically penetrates the heart of the ocean's energy,'' then gets slammed onto the deck once again. Duane willingly takes his knocks. Utterly intriguing are the psycho-probings he assays with his surfing friends into the fanaticism of surfers, how it reflects their past, brackets their love lives, defines their expectations. Duane wrestles poetry from the surf's chaos--wild and vital, supple and elegant. (Author tour)