Book Review: Life of Brine by Phil Jarrett is a surfer’s journey across our great land

Life of Brine (brine – water containing salts), is a surfer’s journey across our great land and venturing across many continents. In this memoir Phil Jarrett, a world class chronicler of surfing culture, brings us a multitude of stories that placed him in some of the most exciting moments in surfing history.

For Jarrett, growing up in the 1970’s, life seemed a little cruiser and more innocent than today’s youngsters. At twelve years of age, he was living in Corrimal (Sydney), surfing with his Narm rubber surfoplane and learning about puberty, girls and finding waves with the older cool kids he looked up too.

Around fifteen Jarrett was working in a surf shop and this moved his future right along, including a Cadetship at the Herald newspaper and I followed his journey through girlfriends, the Vietnam war, during the apartheid doctrine in South Africa, to Bali, London, Whitlam, Nixon, Carter, Abbott, Bill Murray and beyond. Jarrett’s story is a blatantly honest autobiography with many laugh out loud moments, great photos throughout that help capture what it would have looked like ‘back in the day’.

The 70’s sounds like the typical 70’s, the drugs, girls and music. His story is raw, honest and a bit of love mixed in there as well. His writing is articulate, no doubt due to years of writing experience, and whilst reading it, I could almost smell the salty water and feel the burning sun. You may even feel inspired to pick up a short or long surfboard and take up surfing at some of the incredible sounding surfing locations mentioned in Life of Brine.

There are a few ‘Point Break’ moments where his adventures can get a bit hairy but I feel his laid back nature and quick thinking saved him a few times. Like the Leyland Brothers and other autobiographies I’ve read, Jarrett doesn’t sit still. Book Launches, world travel, working many years for various newspapers and magazines including Playboy and Penthouse and continuing on with a family of his own, and this always has me pondering why people take on so much at once. Lose so much money on alcohol and snort a lot of money away, but I guess that’s part of the territory.

Surrounded by mates who fill the pages with adventure and promiscuity, through the good and bad times, Jarrett explains to us in details enveloped with humour how he treasures every moment spent in the ocean and at the age of 63, surviving a heart attack, he can still teach his grandchildren his passion amongst the waves.

If you’re a surfer or a lover of autobiographies, this book is for you.

Life of Brine is out now through Hardie Grant Books


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