On a Wave by Thad Ziolkowski
A Surfer Boyhood

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In this prizewinning poet's wry and exhilarating coming-of-age story, Thad Ziolkowski's On a Wave poignantly looks back at adolescence in a memoir of his surfing years. 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 family -- notably a new brooding and explosive stepfather -- by 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.

About Thad Ziolkowski

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About the AuthorThad Ziolkowski's poetry has appeared in Sulfur, Mandorla, O-blek, Lingo, and Talisman, among other journals. His work was included in An Anthology of (American) Poets (Talisman Books, 1998) and Writing from the New Coast (O-blek Editions, 1993). His chapbooks include Dream Works (Bill Maynes Books, 1996) and Terminal B (Fractional Currency, 1990). He was a staff reviewer for Artforum Magazine for almost a decade, and his non-fiction has appeared in Slate, Bookforum, Index, Travel & Leisure, and The Village Voice. An account of his surfer boyhood in Melbourne Beach, Florida, On a Wave was published in 2002 by Grove/Atlantic and was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award in 2003.
Published December 1, 2007 by Grove Press. 272 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction, Sports & Outdoors, History. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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A wistful, elegiac remembrance of a surfing adolescence mingled with a search for life's authentic experiences that marks poet Ziolkowski (Our Son of the Arson, not reviewed) as old for his years.

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Publishers Weekly

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Generally speaking, surfers don't write.

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