• Under the Wave at Waimea

  • By: Paul Theroux
  • Narrated by: Jim Meskimen
  • Length: 18 hrs and 20 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (129 ratings)

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Under the Wave at Waimea

By: Paul Theroux
Narrated by: Jim Meskimen
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Publisher's Summary

“Theroux’s work is like no one else’s.”–Francine Prose, New York Times Book Review

From legendary writer Paul Theroux comes an atmospheric novel following a big-wave surfer as he confronts aging, privilege, mortality, and whose lives we choose to remember.

Now in his sixties, big-wave surfer Joe Sharkey has passed his prime and is losing his “stoke.” The younger surfers around the breaks on the north shore of Oahu still idolize the Shark, but his sponsors are looking elsewhere. One night, while driving home from a bar after one too many, Joe accidentally kills a stranger near Waimea, a tragedy that sends his life out of control. As the repercussions of the accident spiral ever wider, Joe's devoted girlfriend, Olive, throws herself into uncovering the dead man’s identity and helping Joe find vitality and refuge in the waves again.

Set in the lush, gritty underside of an island paradise audiences rarely see, UNDER THE WAVE AT WAIMEA offers a dramatic, affecting commentary on privilege, mortality, and the lives we choose to remember. It is a masterstroke by one of the greatest writers of our time.

Narrated by Jim Meskimen

©2021 by Paul Theroux (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Under the Wave at Waimea

Average Customer Ratings
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Needed a native speaker from the islands to narrat

I was expecting a lot when I saw this new book. Mostly I was rewarded, I think Theroux gives a good take on being haole in Hawaii and on being in a watermans world. I would have enjoyed it sooo much more if it had been a native speaker. Not only is the Hawaiian pidgin awful he can’t even get place names right. Hopefully they will re-record this book, the author should insist.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Really enjoyable and surprising novel.

There are so many crummy books out there about surfing. As a life long surfer only a handful hold up...Paul Theroux did it here and as a non-surfer...it’s impressive simply that it doesn’t read like a vegetarian reviewing a steak house. I commend him for not fucking it up and getting it so right. Not an easy feat. You could really feel, smell and taste the north shore...and this story. The book was a much needed escape and thus a gift.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Theroux punches through yet another

I thought ol Paulie was out of his lane this time but somehow he grappled with cliched Surfer Tales and whipped it around into something meaningful, storybook. Fulfilling yet missed when completed. The narrator decimates Hawaiian pronunciation and thinks an english dame sounds like C3PO. Unlike other Surf Stories this one doesn't require you to surf to get wet and go over the falls.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent Writing; Terrible Audio Book


The production of "Under The Wave At Waimea" is a complete failure. The narrator Jim Meskimen's voocal timbre is totally inappropriate for this book. He mispronounces everything. He doesn't have the slightest idea of the sound and rythm of Hawaiian pidgin. He has no vocal acting ability.

For example, the Hawaiian word "PAU" ("finished," "ended") should be pronounced "pow," but he pronounces it "po" like the French city Pau. The British character Olive initially sounds Australian, but gradually deteriorates into nothing in particular. The sound and cadence of Hawaiian pidgin is absent from this reading.

Where was the producer? The pronunciation of place names could and should have been ascertained through a phone call to any Hawaii library. If Mr Meskimen didn't properly prepare for his role, then the producer should have researched the basics enough to know that.

I read the print version of the book. I think it is excellently conceived and written. Paul Theroux is a first rate writer.

I was told that this book is being recorded again. I hope they choose a different producer and narrator who properly prepare for the job. I think anyone who bought this audio book should get the new version free, or a refund. This version is a waste of money and a big disappointment.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Long and Boring

What a long and boring novel about a sixty two year old character that no reader could relate to. I mean this novel got so bad and so bogged down in its main character development of Joe Sharkey, the author, whom I like as a travel writer, had to introduce a new character, Hunter S. Thompson, of all people, to keep the narrative of this over-the-hill, semi-successful White surfer, alive. By the end of the novel, the main characters self-pity for accidently killing a man while driving intoxicated, growing up White on an ethnic Hawaii and Asian dominated Oahu, with an inability to trust anyone, as well as the authors need to characterize all native/local Hawaii's as pidgin English speakers who show their racist indignation towards Whites by consistently using the word haole to describe them and Joe Sharkey, was overwhelming enough to make me want delete the book several times. Part 2 of the novel was the worst. I don't know what happens to these authors as they age, but it happened to Tom Wolfe in his last three novels like it happened to Paul Theroux in this novel and even his previous novel, The Lower River, but they become shock jocks of the written word. Their descriptions of sex and certain sex acts are colorfully written and vividly described to the point of being vulgar, adolescent and not required. The book ends after an 18 hour exhaustive look at Joe Sharkey's life that few, if any Paul Theroux fans could relate too, and Sharkey finally admits to himself and others, he killed a man who was, in many ways, similar to himself.
I would not recommend this book to anyone and I chose a two star rating because ultimately the novel was performed okay.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Needed editing.

It was a grave injustice that the Hawaiian words cannot be pronounced correctly particularly Hale’iwa and eww. You need better editors.
Also the reader simply did not capture the spirit of the characters particularly olive.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Terrible pronunciation of local words.

Anybody living in Hawaii for more than a couple of weeks would know how to pronounce Hawaiian and local words. Too many mispronunciations make it unlistenable. Could have just asked any Hawaiian to help the narrator proof listen and avoided this shameful reading.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Boring!

Do not even think about buying this book unless you are really really into surfing. Can’t believe I made it thru part one. Wasted time!

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Poor pronunciation

The story was fun and entertaining, especially since I’m from Oahu and live on the North Shore. My main complaint is with the narrators terrible pronunciation of Hawaiian
words! This could have easily been remedied. The pronunciation was very bad!

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Big Dissapointment

Weak story, with possibly the worst narration in the history of audiobooks. Main character, Sharkey is pathetic.