The Face of the Deep

In The Face of the Deep we float on and submerge
below the ocean's liquid mirror, surfing and diving in "a continuum, concatenation, of sunrises,'s consciousness itself rising and falling with the swell."
From villages in Samoa to haunts in Hawai'i, Thomas
Farber tells of encounters in bars and backwaters as he explores Oceania's mythologies and literatures. From treasure hunters of Cocos island to writers of the Literary Pacific, from Stevenson and Melville to the indigenous writings of Wendt and Hau'ofa, Farber navigates the complexities of the Pacific and its peoples. With the play and music of his language, Farber's shimmering reflections give us a fresh appreciation of the Pacific's depths.

Critical Praise

"[Farber] torques the implicit poetry of the scientific world so that the reader is awash in that most seductive of writing techniques: simply gorgeous prose...Finally, it's Farber's love of language, combined with his love of the sea, that lofts this book up above the many others on diving, surfing, and water. Farber clearly knows not only the changes in tide, but also the swells and eddies of language that make reading and writing a pleasure rivaled only by the pleasure of living by and for the sea."

--San Francisco Chronicle

"Farber's writing is superb, equally deft at observing terrain visible and internal."

--Honolulu Star Bulletin

"[Farber] communicates the joys of salt water with a vivid and emotional language that rings true for any surfer who's ever taken the time to smell the seaweed...The pages salivate with saltwater. The wettest book since 1,000 Leagues Under the Sea."

--Surfing Magazine

"It is poetry, short story, and essay, all rolled into one, and the presence of water carries you along for a journey you'll never forget."

              --Hawaii Pacific Review

"The Face of the Deep is a marvelous, poetic achievement, the best book on diving that I have ever read, a marvelous meditation on the polysemous richness of the sea...a fascinating log of a risky voyage of self-discovery."

--Stephen Greenblatt, Harvard University

"Farber is..a lithe, spare stylist who deploys his language as 'art, shield, music, weapon.' The like epigrams--witty, paradoxical riffs over a range of Pacific Ocean subjects, so compressed, the sides of the page appear to bulge outward."

--Kirkus Reviews

"In a hybrid form entirely Farber's own, this book works at once as Quixotic travel narrative, a story about a story, a dive into many long, deep dives, and a kind of radar tracking device for the acrobatic play of a powerful, facile mind. Nobody writes about water the way Farber does; nor about the sea, nor about what it feels like to be human, and even as his craftsmanship dazzles, his honesty elevates."

--Dan Duane, author of Caught Inside: A Surfer's Year on the California Coast

"...a literary book...elevated by Farber's humility about the people and the places he approaches and his willingness to apply a critical gaze toward himself and other travelers...In Farber's eloquent and extended meditations, we find that his subjects --travel, water, and writiing--offer not exotic adventures, but a mirror of our own lives."

--San Jose Mercury News

"The Face of the Deep is a visionary work about diving, about writing and seeing, about opening oneself to the great watery world that shapes and encircles us."

--James D. Houston, author of The Last Paradise

"Farber tattoos the face of Oceania with dine patterns akin to to symbols on skin that embody and evoke the material and the spiritual, the past and the present, the profound and the ways that mirror, contrast, and complicate our understanding."

--Vilsoni Hereniko, Center for Pacific Island Studies, University of Hawai'i

"The Face of the Deep, dropping in and cutting back in time, reads rather like the spiraling inside of a wave, where the surfer/reader planes on a rail, or line of prose."

--The Nation

"Thomas Farber knows intimately the links between water and life, ocean and self, and...explores them with inelligence and good humor in this captivating book."

--Bill Barich, author of Carson Valley

"A renegade Bostonian, Farber has lived, taught, and written in the Pacific Islands, has exiled himself to paradise and back, and knows that paradise is rarely as it seems from a more earthbound vantage point. There is nothing earthbound about his prose, which spreads a descriptive joie de vivre over everything it touches."

--Boston Globe

"Here's the book to grab when your ship goes down. Thomas Farber's writing is intelligent, informed, meditative, inquisitive, quirky, and deeply entertaining."

--Molly Giles, author of Creek Walk