Reading Down Under

Tunnel Vision By Mullivan McLeod

I once went to a seminar about getting published while at university. The author giving the talk gave me a bite of information I’ve never forgotten:
“If you do a gap year, don’t bother writing it down and hope it’ll get published. No one wants to read about a young person going around and doing aimless stuff, no matter how amazing that experience may be to you.”
I remember this advice with every single page of this book because, not only has Sullivan McLeod managed to find a publisher for his book but even positive reviews!
The story in the blurb and on the cover is that McLeod decides to spontaneously take a year out of his life and try and do what he loves, surfing, for a living. He takes a spot on the dream tour in the hope of proving himself and having some fun at the same time.
Now, first of all, I know nothing about surfing but I live very close to Newquay, the UK spot on the dream tour. I’ve had a go at surfing and even watched a few competitions so I hoped that this book would give me a little more info and give me an inside look at the passion and hard work it takes to be a professional surfer.
Hoo boy was I disappointed. From the word go McLeod does no kind of training and seems to view the whole trip as a vacation. He gets drunk on a regular basis, missing the contests more than once, and engages in a lot of recreational sex. I’m not going to attack that kind of lifestyle but it’s simply not what one would expect from a pro surfer. This is also because McLeod simply ISN’T a pro surfer. If you wish to read about pro-surfing I suggest you go out and find another book on the subject as this book is an entirely personal trip through a laughable year. The things that McLeod manages to do to impede his journey leave me dumbfounded as a person who travels on a regular basis: losing his tickets, his visa, his passport, his boards, it just goes on and on.
Easily the best parts of the book are where he is describing other surfers. Here his tone changes as he clearly respects these other men. He does a good job of summing up surfers who I’ve never even heard of and making sure I remember them for when he next bumps into them on the tour. It confuses me greatly how he can have so much passionate support for them and yet he does so little to actually improve himself for the sport he’s attempting. That said, some of his anecdotes are amusing, particularly at the beginning before his trip, but many are just results of overzealous party-ing rather than due to surfing. Perhaps I’m being naive but this book contains sadly little actual surfing. McLeod catches one impressive wave right at the end but then the book abruptly ends immediately afterwards.
If you are after a personal story of ambition and success, then this is not the book for you. If you are after a story about a guy you could have a few beers with messing around for a year, then enjoy it!


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