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Caught Inside: A Surfer's Year on the California Coast Paperback – April 10, 1997

3.9 out of 5 stars 88 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Tossing aside a mundane and meaningless job, Daniel Duane went to Santa Cruz, California, to surf for year. The book he wrote about it, Caught Inside is something of a Walden of our times. It's wonderfully written, weaving wave wisdom with literary and historical references. And it's not for surfers only: even readers who have never seen the surf will find themselves taken up in the book's rhythms.

Duane sought the peace that surfing offers, and his impressions of surfing characters, sea life (otters, seals, and the great white shark everyone fears is right under you as you paddle your board), and the seasons by the sea are evocative and soothing to read.

From Publishers Weekly

Surfing enthusiast Duane quit his unfulfilling retail job in Berkeley, Calif., and moved to Santa Cruz, where he spent the better part of a recent year riding waves, exploring the coastline, researching the history of surfing and befriending and philosophizing with various locals who have arranged their lives around the quest for the perfect wave. The results of these pursuits are recorded here in quietly meditative prose that simultaneously deglamorizes the sport and seeks to imbue it with a kind of metaphysical profundity. Dedicated surfers, Duane discovers, tend to feel a measure of guilt about their willingness to give their favorite pastime precedence over career ambitions and family responsibilities. At the same time, surfing yields unique and valuable opportunities for appreciation of and communication with nature. Duane is clearly anxious to justify an ostensibly hedonistic lifestyle, and his arguments on its behalf are not always convincing, but the deftly rendered observations and epiphanies make his own experience seem decidedly worthwhile.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: North Point Press; 1st Pbk. Ed edition (April 10, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865475091
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865475090
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #204,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a terrific book. The reviewers who complained about the history and the overly- descriptive prose are really just reflecting the mind-set they brought to the book, because he does both of those well. I mean, that's the book he set out to write. Also, there is not a story here - rather it is a collection of essays, like that from a journal. Approach this for what it is: a bang-on personal report about what it's like to live a surfer's life revolving around the beach, wind, swells and tides. It's extremely accurate.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I can't swim, not really anyway. I can doggy paddle, I can float for a little while, I can even go from one side of a pool to the other if I have to (width not length). But after a couple minutes in the water I start to feel this weight on my chest, like the pressure of the entire ocean is pushing on me. Out of breath, I panic and realize the enormity of what surrounds me, the depth beneath me and the power that moves me. Reading Daniel Duane's "Caught Inside: A Surfer's Year on the California Coast" made me feel that way too, minus the panic. Mixing equal parts memoir, trail guide and history lesson Duane concocts a recipe that might not be for everyone and yet for those who have a taste for such things, what he has written will leave you changed. It's about surfing but it's really about being alive and noticing the world around you. It's about understanding the world as both science and art. It's about leaving home and finding something more.
If you're looking for cover to cover eloquence in prose it isn't here. If you're looking for a pure surf story it isn't here either. I think that what we have in this book is an honest reflection of a year from a guy that's read some books and seen some movies, a guy who can think about masturbating and physics and pop culture and relationships. The book is full of quietly poignant moments about things like tide pools or teenagers staring at a bottle of beer and if that makes Duane a "wanker" like one fellow Amazon reviewer suggested, I think we should all strive to be wankers too.
Anyway, it's been 5 years since I read this book last and yet I find myself thinking about it even now. As one person said to the author about the setting of the sun, it's just not the kind of thing you can look at once and say, "huh, I get it."
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book’s description on Amazon was more than enough to convince me to order a copy. I read the preface as soon as it arrived and wasn’t able to put it down until reading the final, evocative pages of the epilogue. Having grown up in the S.F. Bay Area, and traveled/surfed the same stretch of coast in the ‘70s that Duane writes about, I can attest to the honesty and authenticity of this wonderfully crafted piece of non-fiction that answers so many questions about the lure of the world’s greatest sporting adventure.

This book is everything it should be and more. Duane’s style and delivery has a poetic touch that deviates from the stodgy conventions of other work I’ve read in the memoir genre. Every passage is written with purpose with words that stimulate all of the senses. From the descriptions of the Santa Cruz cliffs overlooking Steamer Lane up toward Natural Bridges, 4 Mile, Scott and Waddell Creek and on up through Davenport and Pescadero, Duane took me on a ride that reminded me of everything I love about that stretch of coast.

The smell and taste of thick salty early morning Pacific fog and the muffled sound emanating from the lip of a thick glassy wave smacking into the flat water came to mind. Reading along in the warmth of my living room, the cold and camaraderie of surfing with friends in a secluded spot, away from the crowd, also conjured emotions of nostalgia. Duane’s relationship with the people in the community of Santa Cruz and those he surfs with ring true and offer insights recognizable by anyone who’s ever surfed California’s Central Coast. Though local surfers probably might not appreciate it, Duane’s story might just be the lure for others to come and experience the region.
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Format: Paperback
How did it happen? Sure, I thought the sport was cool. Yes, I wanted to get good at it. But how did it take over? And why am I 30 years old and only working part-time just so I can go to the beach everyday? These are questions that many surfers find themselves asking at one time or another. Daniel Duane does more than answer them in Caught Inside. He does so with the impeccable observations of a poet and nature-writer. Perhaps I'm biased because Dan happens to be writing about my favorite stretch of coastline in California - the one between Santa Cruz and San Francisco - but I think Caught Inside is one of the best surfing books ever written. He certainly inspired me to write Saltwater Buddha: A Surfer's Quest to Find Zen on the Sea.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a specific take on an experience. However, it is not what I was hoping to get/what I was looking for. It's a little too 'wispy', to 'etheral' for ME, if that makes any sense. I'm not saying it's not a good book-the star rating does not indicate whether or not it's a good book. The star rating system is evaluating if I, ONE Reader, ME, liked it. I don't 'like' it, but not because it's not a good book, that's not it. It's not for what I was looking/it didn't fit into my cookie cutter.

I was looking for a different type of product completely. What I was looking for was more of a "How to" or a "How I did it", or a "Here's all of the gobs of places I visited." etc.

One SUPER neat thing about this book tho' that I really liked: The history of surfing and account of surfing from way way back in time. This book my be worth it simply for THAT account, cuz that's pretty neat in my opinion.

I would like to thank the author for writing this book.
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