“More than an account of a sport mastered. It’s a sharp, self-conscious portrait of the artist as a young grommet.” The New Yorker
On a Wave
978-0-8021-4001-2 • $13.00 • Paperback • June 2003
In this prizewinning poet’s wry and exhilarating coming-of-age story, a precocious boy discovers a new worldand a new understanding of himself and his troubled familyon the gleaming waves of the Atlantic Ocean
Evocative and quietly mesmerizing, Thad Ziolkowski’s On a Wave is a poignant look back at adolescence, a memoir of his surfing years that Time magazine called “a sun-bleached 1960s period piecea wistful, white-collar daydream.”
As a disenchanted, unemployed English professor, Thad decides one day to sneak away from his temp job in Manhattan and catch a wave off a dingy Queens shoreline. In the meager cold waves, he contemplates how he could have possibly become a semidepressed, chain-smoking, aimless man when for a few shining years of his boyhood, he was invincible.
His lapsed love affair with the ocean begins amid the late-sixties counterculture in coastal Florida. After his parents’ divorce, nine-year-old Thad escapes from his difficult familynotably a new brooding and explosive stepfatherby heading for the thrilling, uncharted waters of the local beach. In the embrace of the surf, he is able to stay offshore for years, until his life is upended once again, this time by a double tragedy that deposits him at a crossroads between a life in the waves and a life on land. Lyrical and disarmingly funny, On a Wave is a glorious portrait of youth that reminds readers of Tobias Wolff’s This Boy’s Life and Frank Conroy’s Stop-Time.