Meet the writers inspired by skateboarding
Ernest Hemingway had the chase. Norman MacLean was sinning. Haruki Murakami ran. Name a top writer and you will likely find an activity that inspires her and, more often than not, finds its way into her work. What this activity is is not always as important as the fact of its presence. Even so, certain acts made their way into literary mythology. Consider how machismo and the great outdoors seem to relate to Hemingway and Jim Harrison, for example.
But times have changed, as have the range of things that could spark inspiration in a writer’s mind. And right now, a growing cohort of authors find their muse on a modest four-wheeled device, one also at home when used as a form of transportation or for performing high-risk tricks and maneuvers.
âI think skateboarding has had a huge impact on the way I treat the world,â JosÃ© Vadi told InsideHook. “It’s probably the biggest contributor to the way I interact with physical space, both as a potential for street skating and as a living history book of tips already made.”
Vadi is the author of Interstate, a collection of essays that fits neatly into the category of meticulously observed and socially conscious non-fiction rooted in Californian life. He’s also a longtime skateboarder – something that has influenced his writing, whether or not he writes about board trips across the state. It also contributes to a holistic approach to where he writes about skateboarding, such as in the âSpot Checkâ essay.
âCrack is part of the design of every good skate park in the world, and I miss its San Francisco source,â Vadi writes in the first sentence of the essay. It’s a bold and lived-in statement, though it’s unlikely to end up in an Olympic skate montage at the upcoming Summer Games. The essay as a whole is about finding unlikely ways to explore a city, the pleasures of skating in the same space all day, and the impact of the Bay Area’s recent transformation on skateboarding in the region.
âWherever I am in the world, I wonder about its connection to skateboarding, and it’s a step forward in exploring new places or neighborhoods in the city that I don’t visit often. It was fun to weave into those moments throughout the book and find a way to highlight what lens skateboarding creates, âVadi recalls. âWhen it comes to skateboard writing, one of the reasons I probably hesitated at first writing about it was how much I care about it and how much skateboard writing can be awkward. It’s basically the fear of becoming that Steve Buscemi meme in literary form.
Vadi isn’t the only writer with skate roots to release a acclaimed non-fiction work This year. There is also Kyle Beachy’s Funniest Thing: Messages from a Skateboarder’s Life. Like Vadi, Beachy describes the act of skateboarding as something central to him.
âI became a writer in my twenties, 15 years after becoming a skateboarder, so the solution was there,â he said. âThe first thing I wrote about skating was at the end of 2008, just a little blogging thing. I guess I finished my first novel and started to think about ways I could try to write about this obviously important part of my life in a way that centered that obviousness and importance. “
Vadi and Beachy are part of a growing cohort of writers with deep roots in skateboarding who have left their mark on the literary world. (Earlier this year, the two shared a scene at the Green Apple Books in San Francisco.) “Skateboarding is arguably enjoying a literary renaissance over the past decade,” Vadi said – citing Beachy’s book with a recent essay by Ben Powell compare skateboarding to “rave culture” and that of Noah Johnson GQ Palace Skateboards profile as proof.
The way in which skateboarding can interact with other artistic mediums is a recurring theme in Beachy’s book. He spends a lot of time in the pages of his collection thinking about the aesthetic of skateboarder Mark Suciu. And, when asked, he quotes a number of top skateboarders who have gone on to write books, including Walker Ryan, who described his novel. Mason top as “an adventure story about a guy trying to overcome a breakup – crossing the worlds of skateboarding, contemporary celebrities and the homeless – while facing an identity crisis in his late twenties.”
Other skateboarders turned writers Beachy cited include Michael Christie, whose 2015 novel If i fall incorporated the sport into its plot, along with Scott Bourne and Leo Baker, who followed their skateboarding days to write books for young readers. And he also greeted the Skateboarding, space and the city, calling it “surely the most important book on the subject ever written.”
Beachy went on to speak of his admiration for “the work of longtime skateboarders who have followed various paths to write, make films or study while keeping the skateboard in their bodies.” âYou don’t have to be a pro to know skateboarding well,â Beachy said. “You just have to live with it and have the curiosity to ask what it is and why it matters.”
What skateboarding offers its practitioners is a distinctive way of seeing the world – and, often, getting around it. And to hear both Vadi and Beachy talk about it, that outlook has helped shape the way they put words on paper.
“The skate spots let me see the temporal nature of everything – the people, places and things they create – not to mention gentrification and the impact it has on cities or fires. forest, âVadi explains. “Having said that, it also allowed me to see a form of resilience – even if the spot is gone, the skaters will find a way to do their thing.”
These are classic themes for a writer to adopt, and it’s no surprise to hear Vadi allude to them. The same is true for Beachy; when asked about the counterparts of The funniest thing, he quotes an unexpected literary work. “Annie Dillard Teaching a stone to speak is probably the closest thing my book has to a soul mate, âsays Beachy. But it may not be long before writers cite books like The funniest thing Where Interstate as their own touchstones for the skate literature of tomorrow.
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