Tapping the Source by Kem Nunn (1984)
The gold standard of surf novels follows a naive kid from the Salinas Valley as he searches for his missing sister in Huntington Beach and encounters surfers, bikers, punks, and other locals. The surfers have a Zen-like connection to the ocean, but beach culture is tribal, macho, and violent. Nominated for a National Book Award, it earned lavish praise from critics and the writer Elmore Leonard: “God bless Kem Nunn, one of a rare breed, the novelist who knows how to write and isn’t afraid to plot and tell a story.” Nunn, who grew up in Pomona, recounted to The San Diego Union-Tribune that he was mesmerized the first time he saw surfers when camping with his parents at Salt Creek near Dana Point.
POSTSCRIPT Nunn tips his hat to mentor Oakley Hall, co-founder of UC Irvine’s MFA creative writing program and the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, by naming the yacht owned by a character after Hall’s 1958 Western novel, “Warlock.