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Surfing Brilliant Corners on Amazon

Alison Hodge Publishers Woodslane

My first book details a decade of extreme global surf travel, illustrated by the exquisite photographs of John Callahan. I journey from the living vodou of Haiti, through vibrant African highlife, to a serene Buddhist oasis in communist China. Amongst other adventures, I look deep into the jet black eye of a surfacing shark in Kenya and face a stacked set of foaming lips during storm surf in South Korea with bemused lifeguards waving me and my companions in from the beach to point out that surfing is banned. Framing surfing through metaphors of jazz, the book celebrates genius bop pianist Thelonious Monk’s 1950’s album Brilliant Corners. Monk’s album was famed for its outrageous, groundbreaking compositional originality, and I explore how talented surfers think like great jazz musicians, using invention, complex rhythm, timing and spontaneity to turn impossible wave scenarios into beautiful but challenging music.

As part of an the ongoing Surfing Brilliant Corners project I have been presenting travel films in Haiti, Jamaica and Barbados.

Reviews: Andy Martin/The Independent, Tim Kevan, Drift Magazine,  Matthew Branton, SurfersVillage, Huck Magazine, Cornwalls Coolest, Arts Desk, Pacific Longboarder, SurfCaribe, Flicka, SpinalSurferDrift, Tim Kevan, Huck, Interview

Surfing Tropical Beats on Amazon

Alison Hodge Publishers

In this sequel to Surfing Brilliant Corners, I travel with the surfexplore team on a rollercoaster ride through Gabon, India, Vietnam, Algeria, China and Haiti, drumming up a tropical beat. Combining ‘deep’ travel, John Callahan’s incredible photography and my performance writing, I attempt to capture the spirit of these turbulent coastscapes, blood-racing, running on saltwater fuel.

The wide belt around the equator – the tropics – has become an alluring path for travel, but a place often steeped in war and environmental disasters. With surfexplore, I go off the regular route, carving a niche, collaborating with locals along the way, documenting the occasion poetically and with precision.

Where ‘waves transform from green glass to white foam, the surfboard is the frozen double of that transition – a rainbow bridge that allows you to step in the blink of an eye from inertia to adrenaline-fuelled ecstasy to the fear of the water-wrestling hold-down.’

The paradoxical red hot and cool blue of surfing, and the often icy logic of preparation for challenging travel, form a matrix from which springs a distinctive kind of writing as performance. By turns, we gather our wits at the crossroads where ‘lovers part and souls get taken by the lost highway, lured down the wrong route.’

Surfing Tropical Beats is also available in Mandarin Chinese with the Hainan Publishing House, Haikou.

Reviews: Tim KevanDriftSurfEuropeSurfBooksSophiaTim Hannigan