In one way or another, all surfers are non-conformists. Waveriding might not carry the same anti-establishment stigma it did in the 1960’s, but many of us still struggle with the question of pursuing our love of the ocean or tempering it with all the trappings of modern life. Such is the care of Jacksonville’ FL, author Paul Hayden whose new book, The Nonconformist, follows a corporate banker named Jonathan Lewis who reflects on the choices he made in his life: family over freedom, career over true happiness, security over following his dreams.
Deeper issues are also examined: the pressure put on American children of the post-World War II generation to live up to their parents’ expectations. The battlefields of marriage. Sexual assault and emotional shame. The guilt that plagues all of us after loved ones die. Sure there are some cringe-worthy moments in The Nonconformist (like when he tells his wife: “That’s the response I expected from my brave little surfer girl”). And at 441 pages, it’s long by today’s ADD standards. Also, since the book mirrors much of the author’s life (a surfer named Paul turns up at the end of the book and becomes fascinated by Jon’s story), it’s hard to tell where the line between autobiography and fiction dissolves. But the universality of The Nonconformist’s themes will make the book appeal to most surfers. NM