Title: Lines to the Horizon
Author: Sally Breen, Emily Brugman, Sam Carmody, Madelaine Dickie, Jake Sandtner and Mark Smith
Genre: Anthology, nonfiction
Publisher: Fremantle Press
Published: March 2021
The Lines to the Horizon anthology is a reminder of the sunshine and blue water many of us might feel we are lacking in these wintry months. I am not a surfer, despite the one wave I tried to catch at a camp six years ago. I love the beach though, and as an Australian it truly is hard not to when we are all thrown into it at some point in our lives.
This collection of stories takes readers from the coast of Mexico, where the surf is not the only danger, to the beautiful and lush coasts of Western Australia. It is a collection of six stories from six different authors describing the almost religious experience people can have while surfing. Each author presents their work differently, with some autobiographical work and others opting to tell the stories of others. Each story takes you somewhere new, where the water could wash up a great and terrible beauty of a wave or a terrifying near-death experience.
Devouring the words from each author was quick, with the ocean itself written every time as a special and unforgettable character. Emily Brugman’s story The Sea: Friend or Foe tells of near-death experiences that some people have gone through. There is a story from a group of swimmers, a sailor and two surfers. Each group or person’s story gives the ocean a much more sinister depiction and discusses the dangers that lurk above and below the surface. The group of swimmers was a standout to me, with Emily describing their ocean experience as “about feeling yourself as part of the universe and understanding that you are not so different to other species, be they water- or land-dwelling creatures” (p.127). Brugman’s story really drives home how small we are in comparison to the vast ocean that surrounds us, while also maintaining that the ocean and the surf is always there, and with it come elements of healing and reflection.
Sally Breen’s story Don’t you know you’ve got legs was a standout as well, depicting some of the gender disparities found in surf culture. It brings readers to the sunny Gold Coast and the euphoria surfing has for those residing there. Sam Carmody’s Hold Down was also an incredibly honest depiction of mental health and how the water and surfing can be a healing journey for both our bodies and our minds
Surf culture is truly a culture of its own, with some of the stories transporting readers across the globe to some of the most magnificent surf spots in the world. It describes the joys, friendship and pain that being in the water can bring. I think it is valuable to acknowledge how the ocean can often impact human beings in so many ways, as well as how integral it is to some people’s lives.
I had very little knowledge of surfing before beginning this anthology, and I left it with not a lot of understanding of the technical jargon that comes with competing and wave styles, but I was certainly left with a newfound passion for the ocean that meets so many of us at our back doors. It was also a wonderful escape from the wet weather, and so I think whether you are a kook or a grom this book is calling your name!