Matt's Reviews > The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean

The Wave by Susan Casey
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's review
Jun 13, 2011

really liked it
Read in June, 2011

The book dedicates about 3/4 of its pages to the surfers that ride giant waves, and about 1/4 to the science behind them. All in all, very cool, and not being a surfer myself, I found myself enjoying those parts more than expected. As famed critic Joshua Brustein points out, the hero worship can get to be a bit much (especially with Laird... geez Susan, he can't be that cool), but it doesn't take too much away from the content.

I would have enjoyed a little more time dedicated to the science, especially the relation between climate change's effect on giant waves and what it means for specific places. Still, well done. The only element I thought was largely missing was the viewpoint of the surfer's family, especially given how dangerous the whole business of riding 100 ft waves can be.

The first quote I think summarizes Susan Casey's writing style, and the second is her attempt to summarize our relationship, even kinship, with waves.

"... a true waterman could swim for hours in the most treacherous conditions, save people's lives at will, paddle for a hundred miles if necessary, and commune with all ocean creatures, including large sharks. He understood his environment. He could sense the wind's subtlest shifts and know how that would affect the water. He could navigate by the stars. Not only could he ride the waves, he knew how the waves worked. Most important, a waterman always demonstrated the proper respect for his element. He recognized that the ocean operated on a scale that made even the greatest human initiative seem puny."

"Like the sea, we are always in motion. The waves loom in our dreams and in our nightmares through all of time, their rhythms pulsing through us. They move across a faint horizon, the rush of love and the surge of grief, the respite of peace and then fear again, the heart that beats and then lies still, the rise and fall and rise and fall of all of it, the incoming and the outgoing, the infinite procession of life. And the ocean wraps the earth, a reminder. The mysteries come forward in waves."
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