Tapping the Source

Tapping the Source

by Kem Nunn
4.8 5


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Tapping the Source by Kem Nunn


Kem Nunn’s “surf noir” classic is a thrilling plunge into the seedy underbelly of a Southern California beach town—the inspiration for the film Point Break.

People go to Huntington Beach in search of the endless parties, the ultimate highs, and the perfect waves. Ike Tucker has come to look for his missing sister and for the three men who may have murdered her. In that place of gilded surfers and sun-bleached blonds, Ike’s search takes him on a journey through a twisted world of crazed Vietnam vets, sadistic surfers, drug dealers, and mysterious seducers. He looks into the shadows and finds parties that drift toward pointless violence, joyless vacations, and highs you may never come down from...and a sea of old hatreds and dreams gone bad. And if he’s not careful, his is a journey from which he will never return.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451645545
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 06/19/2012
Edition description: Original
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 384,225
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Kem Nunn is a third-generation Californian whose previous novels include The Dogs of Winter, Pomona Queen, Unassigned Territory, and Tapping the Source, which was made in to the film Point Break. Tijuana Straits won the Los Angeles Times Book Award. He lives in Southern California, where he also writes screenplays for television and film.

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Tapping the Source 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Lance_Charnes More than 1 year ago
Surf noir has been around about as long as surfing has been in the popular mind -- for one, Ross Macdonald dipped a toe in it in 1962 -- and its current strongest practitioner is Don Winslow, whose works I've reviewed in the past. But Kem Nunn was working this wave before Winslow paddled in, and Tapping the Source is the first of his six widely-spaced novels. It exhibits many of the characteristics of a debut: uniqueness, passion, but also issues with pacing and plot resolution. A wayward mother dumped Ike, our 18-year-old protagonist (it's hard to call him a hero), in a dead-end desert town. He and sister Ellen grew up longing to go elsewhere, which Ellen eventually did, falling off the map in the process. Then news from Out West sends Ike to Surf City USA, looking for the only person in the world whom he really cares for. He finds that all is not Jan and Dean on the Pacific's edge. Ike -- quiet, suspicious, shy, self-conscious, naïve -- is vividly drawn. By his nature he's hard to cozy up to, and in many places you'll want to hit him with a clue stick, but that's a function of who he is. He reacts to events in the way you might expect a closed-in kid might, which doesn't always make a lot of sense and isn't always in his best interest. Nunn avoided the trap of making him an investigative adept, natural-born hustler or quick study; he's a plodder in a milieu that eats up plodders without a thought. That milieu is the Huntington Beach, California of 1984, before redevelopment and gentrification wiped out the beach slum, erased the jagged edges and made Surf City safe for rich suburbanites. The HB we see through Ike's eyes is a festering pit of losers, druggies, lost children, mad dogs, gangs (motorcycle and otherwise) and the two-bit businesses that feed off them. Nunn's scene-setting is atmospheric and easily visualized, and most of the supporting cast members are clearly defined and true to their types. Preston and Hound -- the yin-and-yang natural forces who try to lay claim on Ike's soul -- are both fully realized characters who could easily carry their own stories. So why not five stars? As mentioned earlier, Ike is true to his nature, but his nature isn't especially dynamic, and as a result he spends a good deal of time drifting. No doubt a real Ike would do the same, but his lack of drive robs an already prolonged Act II of the energy it needs. You'll guess the supporting cast's secrets much sooner than Ike does, which robs them of their impact. Baddie Milo Drax is much typier than the other major characters; his daddy is Blofeld, and his siblings are all the other slick-entrepreneurs-with-hearts-of-slime that we've seen on TV and in books and films over the past thirty years. While the much-maligned climax makes a certain topical sense -- in 1984, Manson still cast a long shadow over the Southland, and serial killers were all the thing -- if reader comprehension is the author's major goal, it's truly unhelpful to have his POV character stoned as well as generally clueless. Tapping the Source is a good book that could have been great but for Nunn's rookie mistakes. I hope to read one of his later works to see how he's developed as a writer. This has been called one of the great California crime novels. That may overstate the case, but it's a moody, atmospheric evocation of Southern California surf culture before the developers paved it over. Just expect to respect it more than you enjoy it or are thrilled by it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't think I would, or could, like this more than Pomona Queen, but I was so wrong. Yes, I grew up going to Newport and Huntington Beaches, so there's a bit of a nostalgia factor, but Kem Nunn tales a great tale. His character development is top notch and there are plenty of twisty turns, to keep you up reading, into the wee hours.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even if you dont surf, this book takes you on an incredible journey. Luckily I do surf, so it made it even better for me. One of my top 3 all time favorite books. Now if they would just release it for my NOOK, I would read it over and over
Guest More than 1 year ago
Possibly the best book about surfing and the California culture since Wolfe's Pump Houxe Gang. This book tells it like it is and pulls no punches. If you have ever wondered or experienced what it is like to perform that elusive dance with a wave on a surfboard, this book is for you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book will take you from your first fears as a new surfer to the ultimate exhilaration of dropping in and finding the green room. This is all done while the book twists you through a strange tale of a mystery and deceit.