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Inter State: Essays from California (Paperback)

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Description


A debut collection of poetic, linked essays investigating the past and present state of California, its conflicting histories and their impact on a writer's family and life.

California has been advertised as a destiny manifested for those ready to pull up their bootstraps and head west across to find wealth on the other side of the Sierra Nevada since the 19th century. Across the seven essays in the debut collection by José Vadi, we hear from the descendants of those not promised that prize.
 
Inter State explores California through many lenses: an aging obsessed skateboarder; a self-appointed dive bar DJ; a laid-off San Francisco tech worker turned rehired contractor; a grandson of Mexican farmworkers pursuing the crops they tilled.
 
Amidst wildfires, high speed rail, housing crises, unprecedented wealth and its underlying decay, Inter State excavates and roots itself inside those necessary stories and places lost in the ever-changing definitions of a selectively golden state.

About the Author


JOSÉ VADI is an award-winning essayist, poet, playwright, and film producer. Vadi received the San Francisco Foundation's Shenson Performing Arts Award for his debut play, a eulogy for three, produced by Marc Bamuthi Joseph's Living Word Project. He is the author of SoMa Lurk, a collection of photos and poems published by Project Kalahati / Pro Arts Commons. His work has been featured by the PBS NewsHour, the San Francisco Chronicle and The Daily Beast, while his writing has appeared in Catapult, McSweeney’s, New Life Quarterly, The Los Angeles Review of Books, SFMOMA's Open Space, and Pop-Up Magazine.

Praise For…


"What distinguishes this tentative newcomer on the West Coast essayist scene? For one, a fresh approach: Vadi’s deepest purpose is to understand and retrace the footsteps of his abuelo, who picked vegetables up and down the Central Valley. He layers this important quest with a tart mixture of originality and devotion, as well as his own lens as an avid urban skateboarder. And finally, Inter State deserves attention for the way it pits Southern California against the Bay—which is always fun . . . Some of the liveliest writing is fueled by the author’s roots as a skateboarder with a 'unique, original, and destructively perceptive eye,' proving that a journey on urethane wheels can be a profound way to consider a city’s architecture . . . [A] fast, slim, successful addition to the canon of books that get at something essential about a maddening, sprawling, epic state." —Nathan Deuel, Los Angeles Times

"California is a palimpsest; there are cities and stories that were erased to make room for the ones that exist now. Vadi’s dispatches about gentrification sanitizing Oakland, the state’s many unheralded laborers (like the incarcerated men and women who work shoulder-to-shoulder but not dollar-for-dollar with our firefighters), and the tech and population booms reshaping the state, are an attempt to unearth those stories . . . His writing transposes those voices from the margins to center stage by letting them assume their rightful place as co-authors of the story of California . . . Inter State comes alive because of the intimacy Vadi infuses into his archiving . . . Vadi’s meticulous retracing of his family’s footprints across the state—down to the exact placement of the orange tree, chiles and aguacates in his late grandfather’s backyard—is exemplary." —Naomi Elias, KQED

"In his new collection, Inter State, long-time East Bay essayist-poet-playwright-skater José Vadi travels the length of California and re-acquaints himself with the state’s zeitgeist. In eight perceptive essays, his reportorial eye falls on sights as varied as the National Cesar Chavez Memorial, the California High Speed Rail Authority and blowing a tire on the Grapevine." —Michael Berry, East Bay Express

"Vadi takes readers on a journey up and down the length of an ever-changing California, painting beautiful, longing, and often fleeting scenes of what he sees. He gives voice to a wide array of Californians, including skateboarders, farmworkers, DJs, and tech burnouts; their perspectives add up to an unexpected and sharply cogent report on the state of the state." —Alta

"José Vadi offers a distinctive perspective on the past, present and future of the Golden State." —Tobias Carroll, InsideHook

"Regardless of setting, every essay in this sharp collection addresses a different aspect of California’s gentrification, but the thread that holds the pieces together is Vadi’s own confusion, anger, and bitterness at watching the state that he knows and loves fade away before his eyes, providing a modern rejoinder to Richard Rodriguez’s kindred memoir Brown. At a line level, the book is outstanding, filled with long, breathless sentences, innovative syntax . . . Vadi’s talent shines in his descriptions of characters . . . A stunningly written . . . series of essays about California." —Kirkus Reviews

"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 . . . The provocative observations will please essay fans." —Publishers Weekly

Inter State is a cinematic, tender collection of essays that breathe memory into the layered histories of an ever changing California. Written with prose that sings with love, Vadi demands that we pay homage to the cracks, the streets, the buildings, and familial bodies that once occupied spaces now crowded with gentrifiers and dreamers. 'How can I tell you how much an intersection means to me?' Vadi writes, and so we learn a land by driving, walking, by skating through smoke and ruin, paying attention to what startling beauty persists." — Mariama J. Lockington, author of The Lucky Daughter and For Black Girls Like Me

"In this lyrical collection, ethnographer-on-a-skateboard José Vadi uses personal and family history to explore the vicissitudes of California life. Inter State is a soulful chronicle of precariousness in the Golden State—including farm work, tech work, homelessness, gentrification, and wildfires—that also pays homage to the familiar drives, dive bars, and skate spots that will keep its author loyal until death. A rich and moving meditation on the forces that can make us feel displaced even when we know we are at home." —Nina Renata Aron, author of Good Morning, Destroyer of Men’s Souls

“This is a must read book, it must be read to yourself, aloud to your friends, and to strangers on the bus. José Vadi's brilliant collection Inter State maps internal and external geographies of California through lush description and deft analysis. From the Bay Area down through the Central Valley into SoCal this collection showcases a voice keenly aware of how history is alive both in the landscape as well as inside his own writing body.”—sam sax, author of Madness and Bury It

“I wonder if our country had more writers like José Vadi whether we’d be in quite so wretched a state as we are. With wit and rage and love in equal measures, Inter State is an antidote to the persistent mythology of power as character. Vadi claws elbow-deep into the soil to unearth that which has been buried, forced aside, and willfully forgotten. He speaks of family and injustice, of labor camps and tech booms, and after reading this book, it is clear that anyone who writes of California without anger is a liar. I look very forward to reading it again.” —Kyle Beachy, author of The Slide: A Novel

“Cerebral and rich with history and sharp observation, Inter State is a searing love letter to California, a physical and emotional map of the places and people we call home, cities that destroy as well as nourish. With smart prose and daring form, these are perfect essays for our complicated times.” —Melissa Valentine, author of The Names of All the Flowers
Product Details
ISBN: 9781593766955
ISBN-10: 1593766955
Publisher: Soft Skull
Publication Date: September 14th, 2021
Pages: 224
Language: English
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