Sunday, December 21, 2014

Tapping the Source by Kem Nunn

Innocent boy from the desert learns about surfing and the dark side of life.

Ike Tucker, orphan boy from a hick desert town, receives word one day that his runaway sister has vanished for real this time, last seen in the company of three unsavory surfers. Despite his small stature, and utter cluelessness about life in the big city, he takes the bus to Huntington Beach, determined to track down the three men. But first he encounters Preston Marsh, one time surfer golden boy, now tattooed threatening biker. Preston has old ties to these men he would rather not revisit, but he helps Ike as well as teaches him how to surf. Ike finally gets close to one of the three men, Hound Adams, leader of a magnetic circle of surfers and is soon sucked into the various temptations of Hound's criminal lifestyle.  Eventually, Ike’s innocent girlfriend is threatened by depravity, and Preston comes to the rescue.

I loved the thoughtful poetic writing, the careful characterization of shy passive loyal Ike. And the sensually depicted details of surfing and riding the waves. This is a surf novel which is truly about surfing. Although again I asked myself the question -- Is this genre or literary? Eventually I decided that two elements kept the book in the genre category. First of all, the very thin characterization of women. Both the sister and the girlfriend are beautiful sexually damaged girls needing a man to protect them. (Although is that any different from several more sophisticated literary books with barely there female characters?) And secondly, near the end, the initially modest plot disintegrated into a welter of satanic silliness.  However, I plan to read more of Kem Nunn.

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