Pier Rats is now in my top 3 surf books ever, and I’ve read a lot of surf books.
Pier Rats has been written for salty old sea dogs and teenage groms.
It has the surfing insight and emotion of Breath by Tim Winton, but without the kinky sex.
It contains the adventure and thrill of a Kem Nunn novel, but without the dark adult edge.
However, it’s not candy coated for kids. So beware, the contents of this book are physically, socially and criminally hazardous.
Pier Rats – The Story
Lead Character: Lance Stratton, aged 13
Mission: To become a surfer
Location: Ventura, California
Era: Early 1970s
In addition to Lance there’s all the surf scene characters you’d hope for. The local guru and surf shop owner, the local groms aka The Pier Rats, moms, dads and a few hobos thrown in to spice things up.
Pier Rats is action packed. There’s fights with ‘southers’, criminal acts to fund new surf gear and ‘yogi bearing’ for surf trip sustenance.
It’s full of surfing insights including saving for your first surfboard, surf gang initiations and adrenaline addiction.
There’s also plenty of historical snapshots from beavertail wetsuits to losing your leash less board on wipeouts.
For me, it prompted many recollections of youth. The transition of friends, from those who don’t surf to those who do. Wanting to be part of the surf gang and trying to impress your social peers. And of course, chasing girls.
Pier Rats really does have something for all surfers and I highly recommend you read it.
Still not convinced you should buy the book?
Would it help if I told you the author is a really nice guy who really is a surfer?
Well it’s true. Bruce even took the time to answer a few questions.
Bruce Greif interviewHow much of Pier Rats is based on your own experience, and are you Lance?
Yes, the story is loosely based on my own experiences and Lance would be me. It’s like they say, “All fiction is largely autobiographical, and much of autobiography is fiction.”
Lance’s friends started as composites of guys I knew, but as the story developed they took on their own identities, and after a while they were making their own decisions, even Lance. Those guys became my friends, I would itch to get back to the computer, I always felt like they were waiting for me to come get ’em and go to the beach.
It’s kind of like I got to live that part of my life twice, and both times were fun as hell.
What surfing words of wisdom would you give your teenage self?
Wake up kid and look at all the chicks! Ha, just kidding. Boy, that’s tough. My first thought would be try harder in school, don’t be so reckless. And work harder to have better equipment. In those days everybody had just one board, so when the waves got big we’d be under gunned, spinning out, and getting pitched.
What inspired you to write the book?
I always knew I’d write a book, even if no one read it. I started thinking about it after I took a literature class in Community College. I just loved how worlds could be created out of words, so I started writing every day about anything. I filled stacks of spiral notebooks with words. But when I opened a record store in the early 1990’s, I didn’t
write anything for years.
After closing the store I found myself at a corporate desk job, and I decided to start writing again, and this time make a real attempt at a story. So, like the old adage says, write what you know. So, I did. I took a novel writing class at night and once I got a knack for dialogue it really got fun.
Do you have another book in the pipeline?
Yeah, I have a few scenes written for the sequel, I’ve got other ideas too, but I’m back to working full time. I forgot to tell you, I got laid off from that corporate job and for a year worked part time while I finished the book, much to my wife’s dismay. So, I’ve been working a lot trying to help get us financially stable again. But, yeah, I’m working on it.
Thanks Bruce, we wish you many days of rideable waves in Oregon. Like these:
Almost forgot to say: you can buy Pier Rats from Amazon and other good book retailers.