Surfing Brilliant Corners

Sam Bleakley, photos by John Callahan

Surfing Brilliant Corners cover

Surfing Brilliant Corners cover image

Surfing Brilliant Corners book pages

Surfing Brilliant Corners book pages image

Surfing Brilliant Corners: S Korea © <span class=

Surfing Brilliant Corners: Sam Bleakley © JS Callahan photo

Surfing Brilliant Corners: Mauritania © <span class=

Surfing Brilliant Corners: Mauritania © JS Callahan photo

Surfing Brilliant Corners: Barbados © <span class=

Surfing Brilliant Corners: Barbados © JS Callahan photo

Surfing Brilliant Corners: Haiti © <span class=

Surfing Brilliant Corners: Haiti © JS Callahan photo

Surfing Brilliant Corners: Philippines © JS Callahan

Surfing Brilliant Corners: Philippines © JS Callahan photo

Surfing Brilliant Corners details a decade of extreme global surf travel by professional longboarder Sam Bleakley, illustrated with stunning photographs by John Callahan. It takes surfing beyond the waves and packaged surf tourism to a wider sense of place and cultural identity. Sam travels from his birthplace in West Cornwall to Indonesia and the Philippines; through vibrant West African highlife in Ghana, to war-damaged Liberia; to Mauritania, where landmines litter access to some of the best waves on the planet; to a serene Buddhist oasis in Communist China; to Ecuador, Oman and Haiti, whose complex culture seeps into his psyche and captures his heart. He looks deep into the jet-black eye of a surfacing shark in Kenya, and faces a stacked set of foaming lips during typhoon surf in South Korea.

Celebrating Thelonious Monk’s 1950s album Brilliant Corners, Sam explores how, like great jazz musicians, talented surfers use invention, complex rhythm, timing and spontaneity to turn impossible waves into beautiful and challenging music. ‘Surfing,’ he says, ‘has opened me up, split my skin, widened my horizons, and closed me down, because any obsession restricts your involvement in other aspects of life.’

You can use Google Book Search to look inside this book here.

Sam Bleakley is a writer and professional surfer. He has been a multiple European, British and English Longboard Surfing Champion, and a regular competitor on the Oxbow World Longboard Tour. He has an MA in Geography from Pembroke College, University of Cambridge. He is author of  Surf­ing Trop­ical Beats, and is widely published and featured in international magazines, including Resurgence, Action Asia and The Surfer’s Path, and has contributed to numerous surf and travel books, as well as editing The Surfing Tribe: A History of Surfing in Britain.

John Callahan is one of the most widely published surfing photographers in the world. Raised in Hawaii and based in Singapore, he has a BA in Design from the College of Fine Arts, UCLA in Los Angeles. After working for iconic American magazines Surfing and Surfer, John went freelance and has produced groundbreaking photographic editorial projects on unexplored waters and perilous coasts. He is Company Director of

Sam and John have a combined work ethic that eclipses any sense that surf travel is an easy living. When they go to work, they go to work!

  • 1 Setting the Pace
  • 2 Haitian Fight Song
  • 3 The Birth of Cool
  • 4 No Brains, No Headaches
  • 5 Taking the Tube to Work
  • 6 Manila Dawn
  • 7 Staying Tuned in Kenya
  • 8 Panamania
  • 9 Buddha on Board
  • 10 Confronting the Kimchi
  • 11 Desert Blues
  • 12 Surfing Away from a Sinking Ship
  • 13 West African High Life… Let Freedom Ring
  • 14 Kick-out Coda

ISBN: 9780906720806
1st edition
192 pages
110 colour photographs
220 x 170mm
Distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Woodslane.

‘a beautifully written book … accompanied by some stunning photos … packs in some incredible trips which are well off the beaten track … A great read and a wonderful contribution to the increasingly rich library of literature by British surfers’ (Tim Kevan, The Barrister Blog, 29.06.10. You can read the full review here.)

‘A book worth reading if you’re looking for a one-man jazz-infused tip-toe along the road of life. … Sam simply shares his past, his present and his frequencies with us, which is worth sharing. He’s well travelled, a Cambridge alumni, and speaks with soft tones.’ (Drift, 22.06.10. You can read the full review here.)

‘a jazz-inspired song of surfing…
‘Bleakley argues persuasively that surfing, and therefore life generally, consists of imparting some new syncopated swerve to an old standard and improvising amid the maelstrom, “between chaos and control”.’ (Andy Martin, The Independent, 09.07.10. You can read the full review here.)

‘un piacevolissimo mix di surf-report, avventura (quella in cui qualcosa va necessariamente storto) e raffinata letteratura di viaggio, resa palpabile dalle immagini di Callahan.’ (SurfNews, June 2010)

‘Bleakley is part of a growing group of creative writers determined to push the boundaries … “and write with a jazz timing that captures the essence of travel and sports … and enable a wider readership to take surfing and surf travel more seriously.” …
Surfing Brilliant Corners is unlike anything else in the surf writing genre – and all the better for it.’ (Cornwall Today, August 2010)

‘Sam is a cut above when it comes to travel writing … he has made a name for himself in all the best surfing publications world wide. … the insights into some of the more remote quadrants of the surfing world are inspirational … The photos are excellent, the words perfect’ (Wavelength, 194, August 2010)

‘a highly entertaining surf-travel book … Written with the same elegance with which he rides a board.’ (The Cornishman, 29.07.10. You can read the full review here.)

‘It’s a vibrant collection of writing you’ll want to spend time with, one you can really sink your teeth into and get your brain working. And John Callahan’s photos are fantastic as always – culture and surf.
‘The road less travelled is never easy, but can be extremely rewarding. With Surfing Brilliant Corners, it’s a pleasure to have a solid gold dose of surfing literature from some of the world’s waveriding frontiers.’ (Pacific Longboarder, 15 August 2010. You can read the full review here.)

‘Book greeted by excellent sales and superb reviews’ (Global Surf News, 05.08.10).

‘Um amor incondicional pelo surf, pelo mundo e pela grande aventura humana.
‘As imagens deslumbrantes de John Callahan fornecem o apelo visual ideal para ilustrar as palavras de Bleakley, neste que é um dos grandes livros de surf atualmente disponíveis no mercado.’ (Surf Portugal, Agosto 2010)

‘There’s rhythm and fun… Bleakley has, in the surfing genre and beyond, rare writing skills and sensitive powers of observation. He also has passion and a dexterous imagination.’ (The Surfer’s Path, September 2010)

‘it is Bleakley’s lyrical stylings that set the tone, coloured by John Callahan’s photography that fleshes out the lifestyle entailed in the search for waves in the planet’s furthest-flung corners.’ (Action Asia, September/October 2010)

‘Ever respectful and humbled by the places he visits, the people he meets and the breaks he surfs, this is an inspiring travel journal… . Stir in bold and expansive photography by JS Callahan and you’ve got yourself a winner.’ (Cooler, October 2010)

‘an atypical surf book delving into the deeper meaning of surf travel and its path to self-discovery’ (Surf Caribe, October 2010)

‘Sam Bleakley has converted 10 years of world traveling into 190 pages of lyrical anecdotes and vivid photographs by J.S. Callahan’ (Surfer Magazine, November 2010)

‘the pages conjure up a lifestyle far removed from that of your average weekend surfer, and show how, when you are lucky enough to be as talented as the author, the sport can take you places you had never dreamed of visiting. …
‘The photographs by John Callahan are, simply, gorgeous. In full colour, they bring far-flung corners of the world and its people vividly to life. ’ (Tavistock Times Gazette, 04.11.10)

‘sizzling photography … Bleakley’s a thoughtful, extremely well traveled chronicler, and Corners is a fine introduction to his world.’ (The Surfer’s Journal, vol 19, no. 6, 2010)

‘voll geladen mit inspirierenden Geschichten und traumhaften Fotos. Sam blickt in seinen Geschichten hinter den typischen Surf-Tourismus und zeigt faszinierende Menschen, Kulturen und Abenteuer, bringt einen aber durch seine kritische Sicht auf die Dinge auch immer wieder selbst zum Nachdenken. Für jeden Weltenbummler eine Pflichtlektüre!’ (Surfers, August/September 2010)

‘This book is not the norm… there is poetry and there is earnestness. The divide between  photography and journalism, just got smaller… it was a serendipitous discovery indeed.’ (Spinal Surfer blog, 24.11.10. You can read the whole review here.)

‘an outstanding book… loads of longboarding photos in amazing surf spots… a great read.’ (Australian Longboarding, no. 72, November/December 2010)

‘A colourful glossy collection of a decade’s worth of the global surf adventures (to some of the world’s most offbeat destinations) undertaken by the surfer/shooter team of Sam Bleakley and John S. Callahan.’ (Slide, no. 17, January 2011)

‘O livro Surfing Brilliant Corners, escrito pelo longboarder profissional Sam Bleakley e ilustrado com fotos de John Callahan, relata viagens aos cantos mais remotos do planeta em busca de ondas perfeitas.’ (Hardcore, Mar 2011)

Red Group Retail, a leading books, stationery and entertainment retailer in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, chose Surfing Brilliant Corners for special promotion in its 2010 Christmas catalogue.

‘John Callahan’s photography is so breathtaking it makes you want to visit the rich places featured…  an incredible journey…  The descriptions of place and people make you feel right there, in the moment. This is a must for anyone keen on travel writing…’ (SurfTravel­Books, 09.04.12)

‘immers­ing him­self in the rel­ev­ant cul­tures, … weav­ing them all into the writ­ten mix. … he’s found an unlikely muse — 1950’s jazz — Surf­ing Bril­liant Corners, the title is adap­ted from a 1957 album by Thel­o­ni­ous Monk, fea­tures reg­u­lar jazz references. … through essays with titles such as Haitian Fight Song, Manila Dawn, West African High­life, and the Birth of Cool.’ (Swell­net, 06.11.12)

‘John Callahan est là pour prendre des photos, avec une approche conceptuelle. Son objectif est de cristalliser la vie humaine, le village, les pêcheurs… Sam Bleakley… est là pour capter ces petites choses de l’atmosphère et de l’ambiance, elles peuvent être ethniques, ethnographiques, environnementales, etc. Nous publions ses textes à travers des livres (Surfing Brilliant Corners et Surfing Tropical Beats)’ (L’Equipe adrenaline, 2015). Read the full article here.

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