The Surfer's Journal

Friends of mine in high school surfed, making the most of the gentle waves in the emerald green, soup warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico along the Florida panhandle’s sugary beaches. I’ve never once climbed onto a surfboard but as far back as high school I’ve believed that the great unwritten American novel is a novel about a guy who surfs. The longer we go without anyone writing that story, the more I think about trying to write it myself. In my mind over the past 40-plus years my take on such a story has never really congealed much beyond it being set in Southern California in the late 1950s—and with the only character in it being the surfer guy.

I’ve been an on-again off-again reader and occasional subscriber of The Surfer’s Journal since I first saw a copy at DeLauer’s Newsstand in Oakland, California in either 1992 (its first year of publication) or 1993. Never mattered that I didn’t surf or that I didn’t otherwise follow surfing at all (especially competitive surfing, which repulses me, excluding the career of Kelly Slater who I mostly view with absolute awe). I just immediately dug the magazine’s no-ads philosophy and its bohemian vagabond vibe and the real-world photographs and the real-world stories, that it wasn’t fanboy giddy like, say, Surfer and Surfing. It’s sort of a thinking man’s surfing magazine, if you go into it the right way.

And it always kept stoking my thinking about the great unwritten American novel about that guy who surfs.