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An excerpt from That Crazy Perfect Someday by Michael Mazza
Google “Mafuri Long.”
That’s me, surfing the monster of all waves—an eighty-foot beast. I’m like a tiny knife slicing through a gigantic wall of blue that’s rearing up behind me, a total H2O Everest. Scale? Picture me standing next to an eight-story building. In 2023, I became the first “chick” to win the Nike XX Big Wave Classic: one of the few women in history to surf a wave that big, the only one to do it officially. I followed Daddy’s advice before we left the dock for the open sea. “Don’t ride that horse with half your ass,” he said, sending me off with a fist bump. “Go after it, cowgirl.”
The freaky part is that the wave is a hundred miles off the San Diego coast in the middle of nowhere. The surf spot’s called the Cortes Bank, where the fish around you are the size of Volkswagens and very big things can swallow you whole. The only way out there is in a decent-size boat, and the only way to be saved after a serious wipeout is to be rescued by that decent-size boat or plucked up by a Coast Guard helicopter, which one big-wave legend experienced firsthand after a three-wave hold-down. The bank sits just under the water and can kick up epic hundred-footers. It’s one of the biggest, scariest waves in the world, and I mastered it: little five foot three sandy-haired me.
You’d usually have to wait until winter for a wave like that, but weather patterns are so crazy with the globe heating up the last few decades, it’s monumental—like, who can predict? I had no clue how ginormous the wave was. I mean, nobody anticipated it—not my surf coach, the safety team, the other surfers, or the pilots in the choppers circling above—but a tiny voice inside and the never-ending elevator ride up confirmed it was going to be borderline cataclysmic. When the wave hit its peak, I was staring down a seventy-five-foot vertical drop, fear shrieking inside me. Ride or die, that’s what I thought. Like, seriously, flinch on a wave like that and it’s bye-bye girly-girl. I went supersonic after that, faster than I had ever gone before, my legs feeling the board’s feedback full force, completely in the zone, focused, the entire ocean an angry fist beneath me . . . Then I left the wave.
When the video hit social, it ping-ponged around the world, out into space, and back again, sending up a collective girl-power supercheer, pretty much locking up a ton of cash in surf-sponsorships and placing me on every news feed from here to Alice Springs.
© 2017 Michael Mazza, with permission from Turtle Point Press
About Michael Mazza
Michael Mazza is a fiction writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. His stories have appeared in Other Voices, WORDS, Blue Mesa Review, TINGE, and ZYZZYVA. He is best known as an internationally acclaimed art and creative director working in the advertising industry. Along with being named National Creative All-Star by Adweek, his work appears in the Permanent Collection of the Library of Congress. He has lectured throughout the country and abroad, most notably at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. He has attended the Iowa Summer Writers’ Workshop, the Stanford Creative Writing workshop, and the Wharton School Executive Education MBA program. That Crazy Perfect Someday is his first novel. Connect with Michael at his website: www.mazzastory.com or on Twitter and Instagram: @mazzastory
Q&A with Michael Mazza
- What inspired you to center your novel on surfing?
My son took to surfing at an early age. On occasion, we’d ride waves together. But then he started to surf big and left me behind. When he began to compete in the NSSA, the contest schedule dictated long and tiring trips up and down the California coast. I became a surf dad, carting him to each contest for nearly a decade. This is where I absorbed surf culture and witnessed the talented men and women competing first hand. I’ve never come across a novel about a professional female surfer and thought how much I’d like to write a smart portrayal of one living in a world of high-stakes competition and the family drama that comes with it.
- Your protagonist, Mafuri long, has such a unique voice—how did you get in her head as you were writing?
I’ve worked and work with so many intelligent, dynamic, and funny young women in the Ad business. So it was easy to draw from their voices.
- 3. Who are your top three favorite authors? Are there any authors that have had an influence on your own writing?
The first has to be Thom Jones. The Pugilist at Rest, his book of short stories, set my writing in motion. It so impressed me that I immediately began pecking away at a keyboard. I’m a huge fan of T.C Boyle. The musicality of his narrative is utterly breathtaking. He never fails to delight. Finally, another author who knocks me out is Nobel Laureate, J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians and Disgrace. In my opinion, they’re about as perfect novels as you’ll ever read.
- How does your “day job” creating ad campaigns influence your writing?
Copywriting is clear and colloquial, designed to speak directly to the reader as a means of persuasion. Get the reader on your side, in other words. It’s often fast and to the point. I think I’ve carried that sensibility into my fiction.
- What book do you wish you’d written yourself?
The Sympathizer by Viet Than Nguyen. I cannot believe it’s a debut novel. The level of craft is masterful—so deserving of the Pulitzer Prize. If I could have written Waiting for the Barbarians,I’d simply drop the mike and get onto something new—cake making, crocheting or bedazzling or something.