The Dogs of Winter
Review by Ross Cauvel
There's a category of surf writing called Surf Noir. If you're not familiar with "noir", it usually involves crime, moral ambiguity and a healthy dose of cynacism.
It’s not a large genre, but one worth digging into if you like suspense and you're about to endure airports, chicken buses, bad winds or any combo of travel downtime.
The Dogs Of Winter is Kem Nunn’s second outing in the Surf Noir genre. It begins with an inciting incident, when an aging surf photographer receives a gift assignment from a surf magazine editor.
The writing is quick-paced, gritty and soulful. You'll quickly burn through chapters, as you follow Nunn's heroic and quirky characters, which include big waves chargers, a reclusive legend, and resentful natives.
Throughout the book, the ocean plays a natural catalyst for adventure, beckoning a roll of the dice on undiscovered waves. Here’s a taste:
It was to this end that Fletcher now set himself, and he watched as the first wave of the set passed over the reef and began to break. At close quarters, it was an unnerving spectacle, and yet a thing to behold, full of terror and fluid beauty.
The amount of water involved was such that it was like watching a piece of the earth become liquid, as if in some cataclysm, or at the hour of creation. The wave rose first with great mass, like a hill, but this hill was made of liquid, in constant flux, and even as you watched it, it would change its form, turning itself to a long dark wall as the face went vertical and then beyond vertical as the crest began to feather and finally to pitch forward, to strike the water far out in front of the face—thus creating the vaunted green room of surfing myth—the place to be if you were to be there at all, on a board, at the eye of the storm, encompassed by the sound and the fury, bone dry in a place no one had ever been, or would be again, because when the wave was gone the place was gone too and would exist only in memory, or perhaps, if the right person was there, in the right place, with the right equipment, it would exist on film—a little piece of eternity to hang on the wall.
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