Book Review by Sapphire Ng
Hound of the Sea: Wild Man. Wild Waves. Wild Wisdom.
by Garrett McNamara, Karen Karbo
Copyright November 2016
Hardcover, 304 Pages
An invigorating autobiography penned by surfing legend Garrett McNamara. In line with the author’s daredevil disposition, the reader can expect a fast-paced narrative choked full of exciting adventures to the most bizarre and ridiculously hilarious escapades.
This book is heartwarmingly inspirational; its human connection and meaningful depth elevates the book to near perfection. Whilst McNamara fans can expect to be smitten, serious surfers, earnest athletes and big dreamers on the other hand are well advised not to miss this gem of a book.
McNamara’s magnificent achievement of making the Guinness Book of World Records for riding a 78 feet history-making wave at Nazare, Portugal is characterized, as a tremendous inspiration to all, as a “universal” manifestation of “how anything in life is possible.”
Even with personal recounts of winning the Jaws Tow-In World Cup—a big-wave contest—, receiving the coveted invitation to compete in the Eddie tournament, or successfully making the covers of countless prominent surfing magazines, a predominant focus remains spotlighted on universal themes relatable and galvanizing to people from all walks of life—McNamara’s resolute ambition and desire to succeed, his display of mental strength and fortitude, his awe-inspiring perseverance and tenacity, and his unbelievable positivity and fertile attitude toward life.
It was beyond fascinating to devour firsthand recounts of McNamara’s electrifying surfing adventures—one such heart-stopping and perilous adventure of tow-in surfing amidst calving glaciers at Childs Glacier, Alaska, that left the author “glacierized;” his reflexive and candid assessment of Mavericks as a break “that had intent, and that intent was to kill you;” or his designation of Banzai Pipeline as “the most deadly break in the world” with reefs consisting of “a disorganized series of jagged flats.”
McNamara of course, also dedicates considerable attention to his home breaks—Velzyland, one of his Six Feet and Under spot; Hale-’iwa, which he had religiously “memorized where the submerged rocks were;” and Wai-mea, the birthplace of big-wave surfing.
The athletic reader, particularly one with professional athletic aspirations, who is or had been afflicted with varying severity of injuries, would potentially find tremendous comfort in this book. Especially in learning about McNamara’s personal history of injuries, and particularly one rather debilitating and immobilizing injury—involving a pair of severely herniated discs—that did not preclude him from eventually successfully ascending to the very zenith of his sport and attaining iconic status.
A possible critique to this book would be the author’s utilization of a range of surfing terminology without accompanying explanations. The general interest reader might not have readily understood terms used such as barreling, but of course one could easily and quickly resolve the issue by conducting an internet search. And considering the book’s target audience to be possibly and primarily McNamara fans and surfing or sports enthusiasts, in addition to its autobiographical genre, one ought not to expect too exhaustive an approach and coverage by the book.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours for this review.