The Most Fun Thing uses skateboarding as a launch ramp into ruminations on aging, marriage, and the ever-evolving culture surrounding the act of riding a four-wheeled board. You’ve never read skateboarding writing like this; it’s philosophical, academic, and grounded by sharp description. The question at the center of this memoir/essay collection is, what is skateboarding? A sport? An art form?
For the last decade, Chicago creative writing professor and lifelong skater Kyle Beachy has been publishing heady essays in skate mags like Jenkem, Free Skateboard Magazine, and The Skateboard Mag, and those pieces serve as the backbone of this intriguing book, included in chronological order, and tied together by interstitial bits that focus on the author’s life: the attempted novel that morphed into this nonfiction book, his troubled marriage, life during COVID, and the blowback from his more inflammatory essays, like a righteous takedown of racist 1980s skate legend Jason Jessee.
Beachy criticizes skating in a way that only someone who loves it is able to do, going especially hard after its more sanitized aspects: predictable contest courses that squash innovation, the control that the old guard exerts over skate media, the rise of Nike skate shoes, and gifted but robotic “contest brats” who shred with no soul. All topics tie into Beachy’s identity as a skater, which he is pondering as he rolls through adulthood and toward the day when his body will no longer allow him to do the most fun thing.
To Beachy, skateboarding is about failure. And, in The Most Fun Thing, the meditative process of making multiple attempts also applies to art, life, and relationships. Even if you have no clue what “nollie front heel fakie 5-0 revert (frontside)” means, this thoughtful book will give you a lot to consider. It shows how skating is way bigger than those 53 millimeter wheels on the pavement. It’s a sport, art and pastime... it’s life. –Chris Terry (Grand Central Publishing, grandcentralpublishing.com)