The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld

The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld
A Memoir
Justin Hocking
“Beyond cool. A voyage both erudite and affecting.”—Junot Diaz, author of This Is How You Lose Her
"Hocking is earnest and candid, and he writes well about nature. . . . Invigorating."The New York Times Book Review

About the Book

Surfing in Far Rockaway, romantic obsession, and Moby-Dick converge in this winning and refreshing memoir

Justin Hocking lands in New York hopeful but adrift—he's jobless, unexpectedly overwhelmed and disoriented by the city, struggling with anxiety and obsession, and attempting to maintain a faltering long-distance relationship. As a man whose brand of therapy has always been motion, whether in a skate park or on a snowdrift, Hocking needs an outlet for his restlessness. Then he spies his first New York surfer hauling a board to the subway, and its not long before he's a member of the vibrant and passionate surfing community at Far Rockaway. But in the wake of a traumatic robbery incident, the dark undercurrents of his ocean-obsession pull him further and further out on his own night sea journey.
   With Moby-Dick as a touchstone, and interspersed with interludes on everything from the history of surfing to Scientology's naval ties to the environmental impact of the Iraq War, The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld is a multifaceted and enduring modern odyssey from a memorable and whip-smart new literary voice.

Additional Reviews

"In this appealing memoir, the young author finds salvation from a dead-end Manhattan office job in an activity not often associated with New York: surfing. . . . The passages about surfing and the relationships it fosters are filled with excitement and tenderness. It's hard not to cheer for [Hocking]."The New Yorker
“As generous as it is smart, as intimate as it is grand, as illuminating as it is dark. With grace and guts, Justin Hocking dares to go where few men have gone before: not only out to sea, but also into the depths of the human heart.”—Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild
"With nearly pitch-perfect tone, Hocking impressively builds [Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld] around a series of tension-and-release vignettes that roll through the narrative like waves. . . . Hocking's journey will prove relevant and immediate in its exploration of maturation and experiencing both spiritual collapse and, eventually, renewal."The Boston Globe
"Through stylistic understatement and perfect tonal pitch. . . . Hocking ultimately transcends 'the dark Ahab force.'"Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Hocking doesn’t dwell on his misfortunes, or cast himself as the hero. Instead, Wonderworld focuses on a more common, less headline-catching narrative: the small, lovely, but difficult, ways human beings heal in a world rife with mistakes and misjudgments, wrongdoing and despair. . . . [The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld is] reflective and honest, with charm and just the right amount of innocence."—Los Angeles Review of Books
"This is a book about obsessions (Melville, romance, surfing, skateboarding) and anxieties, which, in some ways, makes it a perfect memoir for our times. . . . Justin Hocking collects the seemingly disparate experiences of his life and uses deftness, humility, and humor to craft a readable, relatable story of one life well examined."—Oregon Humanities
“This nightshade journey reflects on the inner Ahab inside all of us, entwined with a maniacal obsession with a certain whale of an American literary touchstone deserving of such devotion. Melvillian arcana abounds, leading to a profound journey into Moby-Dick’s infinitude of meanings, mixed with inopportune break dancing, a harrowing carjacking, and a meditation on the redemptive power of skateboarding and surfing, the allure of waves and the sea, and life itself.”—Jocko Weyland, author of The Answer Is Never
“Searching, gutsy, and vulnerable, The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld is a deeply felt account of a young man’s aching coast-to-coast search for an emotional home in the world. The settings and quasi-romances couldn’t feel more contemporary—anti-depressants and underground New York skateparks, sleeping pills and cold water surf breaks in the Pacific Northwest. But the journey couldn’t be more universal, painful, and worthwhile.”—Daniel Duane, author of Caught Inside: A Surfer’s Year on the California Coast
The Great Floodgates of The Wonderworld is transcendent. Justin Hocking explores what it means to be a skateboarder, a surfer, and a writer, and he lays bare the pains and joys of each, the surprising ways the endeavors mirror one another. The book is thrilling in its structure and moving in its emotion and conviction. The chapters roll like waves, carrying you along and breaking over you, washing you in revelation after revelation.”—Bret Anthony Johnston, author of Remember Me Like This
“Melville-haunted, surfing-imbued, and wisdom-packed, The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld is a lucid and moving memoir. Hocking’s laid-back erudition and narrative generosity take us by the hand down a winding path at the end of which lies a new openness to the world’s wonder.”—Antoine Wilson, author of Panorama City

"Funny and heartbreaking. . . Hocking's memoir is a masterful work of confusion and clarity, of obsession and letting go."—Michael Schaub,
"Melville called Ishmael a 'dreamy, meditative man.' So is Justin Hocking. From his modern masthead, he sees a capacious and generous world, one he brings to life in this erudite and introspective memoir."Shelf Awareness
"In this elegant hybrid of homage to Melville and memoir, Hocking examines timeless archetypes and questions their pertinence in his own life. . . . His admiration for Melville's opus does not prevent him from telling a compelling story of his own."Library Journal, starred review
"The romantic obsessions which haunt [The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld] are both deeply personal and intensely relatable, digressing often into bouts of poetic erudition that echo Melville in more ways than one. Wonderworld’s anchor, however, is its underlying account of Hocking’s overqualified, financially precarious, unfulfilling youth, making it one of the most timely and relevant Millennial memoirs yet seen."BookRiot