A "must read" 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 (Los Angeles Times).
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.
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.