cover image Inter State: Essays from California

Inter State: Essays from California

José Vadi. Soft Skull, $16.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-59376-695-5

Part love letter, part indictment, this moving debut essay collection from Vadi captures the changing landscape of California. A native Californian, aging skateboarder, and poet, Vadi laments in deeply felt prose California’s transformation. “Standing in the Shadows of Brands” covers the rise in homelessness in the Bay Area as the tech economy reshaped the city’s culture and skyline, while “14th and Jackson” describes the diminishing of a “decade’s worth of artistic potential” in Oakland as the city has gentrified. The title essay bears witness to the quickly vanishing landmarks of the California to which his grandparents came as migrants from Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl—and sees Vadi heading toward “the only local landmark I know, a skate park.” Things often come back to skateboarding—“but then I remember those visceral, intrinsic moments when the earth beneath our skateboards shook, and we asked one another with our eyes, Did you feel it?”—and many of his references will land best for readers familiar with San Francisco and Los Angeles. But even those who have never stepped foot in California will recognize Vadi’s anguish and frustration in watching the place change. The provocative observations will please essay fans. (Sept.)