The Open Book & The Sea

Two of my favorite worlds collide in Cape Town next month at the Open Book Festival. But more on that later, first let’s focus on the fest.

In case you don’t know, Open Book is a diverse and very convenient literary festival hosted by  The Book Lounge and The Fugard Theatre . If you live in Cape Town and have never been to the aforementioned establishments, you have missed out. Make Open Book a reason to get down there.

Because I am only one level above stalker on the Nosy Parker Scale, I love things like this. These are the kinds of events where authors emerge from behind their desks/computers/hand written manifestos and answer tricky questions before an audience. It’s marvelous. It’s Quizzy Lizzy heaven.

The programme (ie Who is Being Grilled  When) for Open Book is available HERE but I will give you a hint because I’m helpful that way.

One highlight  for me is the event where the ocean meets the sand,  where surfing meets the literary world and forms a perfect intertidal zone. It’s an event where a book panel talks surfing.

The event is called Me and My Board  and will be chaired by  Glen Thompson, a Stellenbosch University Research Associate in history. (Of surfing. More specifically he writes on race, gender and cultural politics in the history of South African surfing.)  He has a good South African surfing name, even though it’s spelled differently, and it turns out that he is perched at #25 in the SUPSA National Wave Rankings in the Open Men’s division (Stand Up Paddle) for 2016. Glen is also the Environmental Officer of SUPSA (the national Stand Up Paddle organization) and he will be at Open Book, chatting to two quite different surf legends, Chris Bertish and Andy Martin

Chris is famous for surfing big waves (four story building size, about 40 – 60 foot),  winning the Mavericks Invitational in 2010 and writing an interesting book about it all called Stoked. (I have made his two wave hold down mantra  ‘When you panic, don’t panic‘ my own for anxiety fraught moments in 3 foot Muizies.) Chris is about to attempt a mind-boggling first ever Sup trans-Atlantic crossing. (Yes. The actual vast ocean on a Stand Up Paddle Board. Alone. Read about it HERE)


Andy is famous, not for surfing big waves, neither for getting those 20 stitches in his head trying, but rather for applying his excellent mind to taming those tube rides into words, for somehow bringing the ever moving playground of the sea into our realm of understanding and for allowing us to pause and reflect on our obsession with an environment in which we cannot ultimately survive. Andy does this with astonishing skill in his cult classic book Walking On Water   His other equally compelling book on surfing, Stealing the Wave , is the story of the rivalry between big wave surfers Ken Bradshaw and Mark Foo.

walking on water





stealing the wave


He has written many other books/papers/articles on a variety of subjects including this inspiring piece on Bethany Hamilton.  He is a lecturer in the Department of French at Cambridge University and a fair weather surfer. Andy is also in Cape Town to chat about his wonderful new book on Lee Child’s writing process, called Reacher Said Nothing  You can catch the event he will skype with Lee Child  HERE  but happily, at Me and My Board he is going to chat about surfing .

Other Helpful Open Book Hints:

  • Bring money. To buy books.
  • Buy books.
  • Have them signed.
  • Support the Leopards Leap #Words4Wine which is a ticket free event, where you bring a pre-loved book to donate and then you receive a lovely glass of wine for your generosity.

Heluhelu & Aloha

  One thought on “The Open Book & The Sea

  1. August 16, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    wish I could be there, will enjoy reading your feedback

  2. Caroline Gill
    August 17, 2016 at 4:47 am

    Eddie Aikau…..(my favourite surf story to date)

    • August 17, 2016 at 8:59 pm

      I know hey, Caroline? Sad story but brave, selfless guy x

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