Chipped

Writing from a Skateboarder's Lens

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Book Description

A memoir-in-essays about how skateboarding re-defines space, curates culture, confronts mortality, and affords new perspectives on and off the board

Chipping a board—where small pieces of deck and tape break off around the nose and tail—is a natural part of skateboarding. Novice or pro, you’ll see folks riding chipped boards as symbols of their stubborn dedication toward a deck, a toy, and aging bodies that will also reach their inevitable end. 

In Chipped, José Vadi personalizes and expands upon this symbol. Written after finishing his debut collection Inter State: Essays From California, Vadi used these essays to explore his own empathy in aging, and to elaborate on the impact skateboarding has had on culture, power, and art. From tracing a critical mass skater takeover of San Francisco’s streets, to an analysis of visceral ‘90s skate videos and soundtracks, to the solace found skating a parking lot during a global pandemic, Vadi expands our understanding of the ways skateboarding can alter one’s life. 

Vadi acts as a “ethnographer on a skateboard,” writing, living, and animating an object, likening the board and skate ephemera to the fear of being discarded, wanting to be seen as useful, functional, living. These essays analyze the legacy of seminal texts like Thrasher Magazine, influential programming giants like MTV, and skateboard artists like Ed Templeton. They imagine jazz composer Sun Ra as a skateboarder to explore sonic connections between skateboarding and jazz, obsessively follow bands, chronicle tours, and discover the creative bermuda triangle Southern California suburbs have to offer. Chipped is an intimate, genre-pushing meditation on skateboarding and the reasons we continue to get up after every fall life throws our way.

About the Author

Praise For This Book

The Orange County Register, A New Spring Book You Won't Want to Miss

"Vadi conjures California’s charms through descriptions of invitingly empty parking lots, curbs perfectly waxed for skating, perilously designed intersections and the shimmering temptation of stairways and railings . . . Skateboarding as Vadi understands it is an act of defiance, a story that isn’t usually written. Part of what makes his documenting it powerful is the proof that a life like this is possible . . . Chipped bears the marks of everything Vadi learned on his board. His prose is often vivid and propulsive . . . In skating, Vadi found 'a compass, a lens, a portal to joy only found by trying.' Chipped offers the same even to those of us who have never stepped onto a board." —Zan Romanoff, The Los Angeles Times

"Oakland and San Francisco loom large in José Vadi’s skateboarding memoir-in-essays, which Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Hua Hsu calls 'a treasure that details 'public space and private rebellion.' Together, these pieces examine how skateboarding has influenced culture, power and art." —Hannah Bae, San Francisco Chronicle

"Written with sharp prose . . . [A]s much as the book is about skating, it also reminds readers of the beauty in the documentation of ourselves and the interests we acquire through our lived experiences." —Charlie Vargas, The Orange County Register

"If his debut essay collection, Inter State, offered a series of love letters to California, Chipped is an extended mash note to the rich subculture of the board."—Emily St. Martin, Alta

"José Vadi’s essay collection shines in its quiet power; his writing and description builds to an impressive crescendo, or oftentimes, builds to a crescendo before settling down to a profound but never facile revelation. Chipped is made up of ten essays that shine in their individuality and as a whole alchemize into a bird’s eye view of the art of skateboarding and its place in a creative life and in a contemporary society that doesn’t always value the contemplative life." —Pete Riehl, Chills at Will Podcast

"Pensive . . . 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." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Skateboarders young and old-school will see themselves in Vadi’s journey captured in this collection of essays by an optimistic, fresh, and insightful voice." —Booklist

"The essays are poetic, compassionate, and vulnerable, drawing rewardingly original connections among a host of seemingly disparate topics . . . Vadi clearly takes great pleasure in the vocabulary and syntax of skateboarding; at times, this pleasure feels contagious, even for non-skaters . . . [A] largely illuminating collection about skateboarding, race, and relationships." —Kirkus Reviews

"To José Vadi, one of our great poets of the overlooked and ignored, it’s not just a skateboard. It’s a medium for dreaming, for chasing down histories of public space and private rebellion, for measuring ourselves against the wide-open visions of youth. Chipped is a treasure.” —Hua Hsu, author of National Book Critic Circle award-winning Stay True

"Continue the line that runs from Sun Ra to contemporary skateboarding and you'll arrive at the brilliant, searching essays of José Vadi. Chipped is a masterpiece of both the form and his subject." —Kyle Beachy, author of The Most Fun Thing

"A skateboard is a simple plaything from which a vibrant global culture emerged. With Chipped, José Vadi takes us under the hood of its animating force, deftly weaving the personal with the world to show us how all the infinitely beautiful and complicated things that make us human coalesce to breathe life into this toy. A piece of wood with wheels that can, if you let it, take you everywhere and show you everything.” —Cole Nowicki, author of Right, Down + Circle and Laser Quit Smoking Massage

"In these vibrant texts, José Vadi shows how skateboarding is not a sport, but an attitude, a culture, a way of thinking. A compelling collection of insights, musing and observations." —Iain Borden, author of Skateboarding and the City: A Complete History

“A luminous reflection on the many ways that skateboarding changes the way we see the world from one of our most attentive eyes and ears.” —Ted Barrow, writer, art historian, and skateboarder