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Under the Wave at Waimea af Paul Theroux
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Under the Wave at Waimea (udgave 2021)

af Paul Theroux (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingSamtaler
524401,182 (3.54)Ingen
Medlem:markburris
Titel:Under the Wave at Waimea
Forfattere:Paul Theroux (Forfatter)
Info:Mariner Books (2021), 416 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:****
Nøgleord:Ingen

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Under the Wave at Waimea af Paul Theroux

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Travel writer and novelist Paul Theroux has for years now split his time between Cape Cod and Hawaii. It's not a surprise then that his latest novel is set in Hawaii. Under the Wave at Waimea is the story of an aging big wave surfer named Joe Sharkey. The older folks know him by reputation but he's bothered that the young generation of surfers don't. Aside from that he's happy and fills his days with surfing and living the good life in Hawaii. He's been able to live off of surfing sponsorships and money inherited from his mother and has never had to work - surfing is his life.

Then the 62 year old surfer hits and kills a homeless biker while driving home from the bar. He slowly sinks into a spiral of depression, leaving his partner, a nurse, to try to help him put his life back together.

The book is broken into thirds. In the first third we follow Joe's life after he's met his new-ish girlfriend / partner Olive, through the accident and into the depths of his downward fall. In the second (and longest) third we flash back and follow Joe from childhood up to meeting Olive. Finally in the last third Olive guides Joe out of his fog and to a satisfying ending to the story.

At first I found the book a bit uneven, and the main character not all that likable. There are a lot of subplots, especially in the second third, and at times you wonder where the book is headed. But in the final third Theroux pulls the threads together in some unexpected ways, yielding an ending that has a big emotional impact.

While I liked this book it did drag in places. There is a whole subplot about the author Hunter S. Thompson, supposed to be a friend of Sharkey's, that really didn't have a lot to do with advancing the storyline and, like Thompson himself, was a bit over the top. There is a whole bunch of surfing detail in the book which is respectful and beautifully written, but I've heard mixed reviews on this - some have pointed out that Theroux is not a surfer himself and got some of the technical details wrong, which could put you off the book if you are a surfer.

If you have spent time in Hawaii among Hawaiians, or even if you are just interested in learning more about Hawaii, I think you'll appreciate the Hawaiian-ness of the book. And I did like the way everything came together in the end. I think if you stick with it through the draggy parts you'll be glad you read this book. Overall I give Under the Wave at Waimea Three Stars ⭐⭐⭐. ( )
  stevrbee | Sep 23, 2021 |
Based only on his travel books, I wasn't sure what to expect from a Theroux novel. Would his misanthropy dominate, or his human curiosity? A pleasant surprise: this works very well. It is certainly still Theroux talking, as you can see from his descriptions, and from the main character. He bends reality into a morality tale that, while not quite believable, is as or more compelling than another Theroux train trip.

> That was the oddity of fame, not that everyone seemed to know you but that you were always confiding to strangers, speaking in general, everyone a potential ally or well-wisher, as though on a lifelong campaign, the guest of honor at every table, the brightest light at every party, always the talker among rapt admiring faces—it seemed that way. You were everyone’s friend, holding conversations with the multitudes, and so you had no real friends, but that didn’t matter, because the intensity of one intimate friend, or a loving wife, was an obstacle to talking to the world. The world was your friend.

> He had wooed her with his stories once, and now she was near to being repelled, except that she was so sorry for him in his plodding in circles. ( )
  breic | Jun 30, 2021 |
UNDER THE WAVE AT WAIMEA by Paul Theroux is brilliantly written.
The story expands outward in many ripples, exactly like the waves at the North Shore beaches on Oahu.
The book is very atmospheric. I can close my eyes and feel the breezes; smell the flowers and drink in the lush vegetation and views.
The book is a story of privilege, of aging, of mortality, of ebbing power and admiration.
The book is a detective story, a mystery. Not only does Joe Sharkey seek the identity of the stranger he accidentally kills; he also seeks his own identity and acceptance of himself.
This is a ‘coming-of-age’ story, but the person ‘coming-of-age’ is in his 60s. (I say better late than never.)
There are several main characters here - Joe Sharkey, of course; his companion/partner Olive; the ever-present water; the surf; riding the waves; the culture (at least on the North Shore) of surfing; the island of Oahu - good and bad, glossy and decadent.
UNDER THE WAVE AT WAIMEA is an ode to Hawaii and the art of surfing.

The bits with Hunter Thompson were intriguing.
I especially liked the the references to Vietnam. (That bit of history is slowly fading from our memories and I regret that.)

I took many ‘notes’ but two stand out. (for me)
“Anyone who did not surf had no idea how even the most basic maneuver took such strength and balance; how for long periods in a pounding shore break he was still driven by anxiety; how so many of his good friends had died - drowned in a hold-down, got hit by their board and knocked unconscious, got caught by their snagged leash. But it all looked so simple from shore, people invented improbable feats and heroics. They did not understand that simply to ride a big wave was a miracle of poise and strength. (p.17)

“Surfing was the pulse and passion of his life, not like a sport that involved catching a ball or swinging a bat, and not a recreation either. It was a way of living your life that only other surfers understood - even the posers and punks who’d somewhat spoiled it; and good waves took precedence over everything on land.” (p.41)

An excellent book, UNDER THE WAVE AT WAIMEA by Paul Theroux. ***** ( )
  diana.hauser | Apr 27, 2021 |
Under the Wave at Waimea by Paul Theroux is a highly recommended novel, especially for the right reader, of aging, mortality, but, most importantly, big-wave surfing.

Joe Sharkey is a legendary big-wave surfer who is now in his sixties and past his prime. Although there are some new, young surfers who realize who he is and recall his many incredible feats on the surfing circuit around the world, increasingly more of them don't recognize Sharkey. Sharkey still checks out the wave forecast and tries to surf everyday. He seemingly has an ideal life now. He is comfortable. He is living with a much younger woman, Olive, a nurse from England. But when Sharkey accidentally hits and kills a homeless man on a bicycle when driving home from a bar, he suddenly begins to question his mortality and begins repeating the many stories of his life to Olive. She begins the process and encourages him to uncover the identity of the victim which will hopefully give him closure.

The narrative also jumps back in time, to Sharkey's childhood, his family, and his start in surfing, as well as the bullying he experienced. Then it covers his surfing life. Basically, this is an in depth character study of a man who becomes a competitive surfer and follows his life, as he remembers it, in his search for the ultimate wave. This is about Joe Sharkey, and it is a ponderous novel. There is a whole lot of surfing in Under the Wave at Waimea, which is to be expected, and also a plethora of Hawaiian vocabulary, which can be frustrating without the context to always understand what is being said. There are also passages of brilliant character insight along with vivid descriptions.

The search for the identity and information about the man he killed, Max, does expand the focus of the novel and gives Sharkey a focus beyond his surfing stories. It is this search that sets his own mortality before him and provides a new dimension to his character. In the end, however, this is a well written character study of one man that suffers a bit from it's length and could use a bit of editing. In the parts that are successful, it is amazing, but there are whole sections that could use some editing. It also requires a higher degree of interest and appreciation of surfing than I expected. Finally, Olive could have used more character development as she was an intriguing woman.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HMH Books in exchange for my honest opinion.
http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2021/03/under-wave-at-waimea.html
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3911879969 ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 27, 2021 |
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