And here I am again, reminded of Bordertown -- first wrecks in the forest and now skateboarding -- which occupied a significant part of Alison Gross, a novella I wrote for Life on the Border (1991) and for which my research involved devouring skate magazines, gawking at cool stuff in skate shops, and watching endless videos posted by skaters in crumbling, fuzzy videos of spectacular flights and just as spectacular falls. It was so much fun back then to write the story and even more fun to watch the skaters. So, I was delighted at suddenly discovering an article by Claire Cameron about Michael Christie, a professional skateboarder now turned author. He explains in the article about the five ways skateboarding and writing are the same. And it is wonderful set of observations.
When comparing the physical pain to sitting all day (oh my aching back) and the constant injuries that come with skateboarding he argues that despite the pain, "...there is great pleasure in the physicality, too. When I’m on a roll, it feels like my body is possessed by some benevolent guiding force and hours zoom by, pain-free. I remember similar days on my skateboard when it felt like I could land just about anything I attempted. My legs were lighter, more springy. My balance was consistently zeroed in and my board seemed telekinetically bound to my will. What greater joy is there?"
And in another section he argues that both require there to be "blood on the ground," because in "both skateboarding and literature, there is that sublime moment when someone pulls something off that is clearly at the very outer limits of their ability, that is even perhaps beyond their ability, but yet it somehow worked out anyway — and this is where the true magic happens. Art is risk. That’s why it captivates us. And if a writer taking this risk has left a little (metaphorical!) blood on the ground, then all the better for those watching. The spatter is how we know they meant it.”
I have ordered Michael Christie's novel, If Fall, If I Die, (already garnering excellent reviews) because it sounds fascinating and because there is a journey to an unknown "Outside" and the conveyance is a skateboard. And probably because I have already had a glimpse from the article about the beautiful way Michael Christie writes about skateboarding, describing a boy doing an ollie , as “frozen like a cat stalking a robin, before cracking the rear of the board down, rocketing himself upward with the apparatus clinging impossibly to his feet like a burr.” Yeah...I'm hooked.