Bill Cleary

My generation was expected to go into the military then come home and have babies. It was all scripted, womb to tomb. Surfers didn’t want any part of that.

“Seeing Cleary,” by Jeff Duclos, ran in two issues of H20 magazine, back to back, in 2000 and 2001. Bill Cleary, the former editor of Surf Guide, was 63 when Duclos interviewed him, and would soon die Parkinson’s disease. The interview below has been shortened and slightly edited from the original.

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Great works of fiction have been written around fishing, mountain climbing, bull fighting—you name it. You’d think surfing would be the perfect environment in which to tell a story. It’s ...