cover image Chipped: Writing from a Skateboarder’s Lens

Chipped: Writing from a Skateboarder’s Lens

José Vadi. Soft Skull, $26 (208p) ISBN 978-1-59376-755-6

In this pensive collection, essayist Vadi (Inter State) meditates on “how skateboarding gave me a new lens to see my world and myself differently.” In the eponymous essay, whose title refers to the small pieces of board that break off during a ride, Vadi discusses how “the older I get the more I empathize with those chipped boards I had as kid... wanting to still be seen as useful.” “Wild in the Streets” expounds on the sense of community Vadi felt attending a 2007 Fourth of July skating event in which boarders took over San Francisco’s Embarcadero: “It was another night of trying to synchronize ourselves to a city’s rhythm for the opportunity to collectively bear witness to everything a city can create.” Drawing parallels between skating and jazz, Vadi suggests in “King Shit (or Can a King Be a King?)” that both elicit disciplined obsession from practitioners and come alive through performance. Elsewhere, Vadi serves up an ode to VHS skate demos and recounts taking up poetry “to describe the feeling skating gave me,” honing his spoken word skills by watching mixtapes of poetry slams similar to the demos from which he learned new skating tricks. The rhapsodic prose shines, and Vadi’s passion will hold the attention even of readers who know little about the sport. It’s a ride well worth taking. (Apr.)