THE ANSWER IS NEVER by Jocko Weyland

THE ANSWER IS NEVER

A Skateboarder’s History of the World
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

An enthusiast recounts the rise of skateboarding and his own experiences with the sport.

Exhibiting the skateboarder's trademark gusto, newcomer Weyland begins his history of this outsider sport with the Big Bang, leaps to Hawaii circa 1900, and winds up at the Los Angeles drought of 1975, during which bone-dry swimming pools became the new frontier for hitherto earthbound skateboarders. After explaining how plastic wheels helped usher in a new era of skating tricks, the author profiles the rise of the sport and its contemporary heroes. Completists may revel in Weyland's detailed critique of early skateboarding magazines, movies, and books; others may skip these chapters entirely in favor of those where he chronicles his own love affair with skating. The author became enamored of the sport at age nine; he embraced it through the 1980s, when as a teenaged punk he enjoyed any activity that could be seen as out of favor with the mainstream; and he continues to practice today. The most engaging passages, even though they have little to do with skateboarding as such, describe the isolation Weyland felt in his small Colorado hometown, his dependence on mail-order records and magazines for outsider culture, his intense and immediate connection with the few young men he met who shared his passion. Unfortunately, his descriptions of skating remain opaque; he is unable to translate terms like “ollie,” “fakie,” or “boneless” and brings none of the sport’s fabled grace to the page. Enamored of phrasing so ponderous as to be farcical (“Play is a manifestation of an atavistic legacy that can be traced back to the propensity for the animals of all higher species to cavort and roughhouse”), Ol’ Jocko is in grave danger of crushing his entire narrative.

Never gets off the ground.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-8021-3945-0
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Grove
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2002