Book Reviews


Usually we don’t have very much time to read, but there were just so many good books this month that we made an exception.

Dusk Like Fire

Selected Poems By Mike Vallely 1989-1999

Mike Vallely

Mike V.’s never been at a loss for words. Or aggression. Or uppercuts. Or nuclear-bomb-style energy. And that’s precisely what makes the man so intriguing. Sure, he may come across as a wee bit preachy sometimes, but his unbridled enthusiasm all but makes up for it. In his new self-published book of poetry, Dusk Like Fire, fans and foes catch a glimpse of the intensity Mike V. has bottled inside since third grade (that’s when he began writing poems). Expectedly, the themes of uprising and ferocity are alive and well; but unexpectedly, the overall tone of the poems is something of tranquility. “Mannequins stand around without a thought/ But they’re always talking/ Talking about feeling good/ But never about feeling.” Twisting, profound thoughts like this, from “Surface Street” (1989), reveal a meditative side of a man whose carefully constructed persona has-often times-gotten the best of him. Like his skating, and like his public speaking, Mike V.’s poetry embodies a heart-on-its-sleeve ballsy-ness that is truly respectable, any way you look at it.-Carleton Curtis

Concrete To Canvas: Skateboarders’ Art

Jo Waterhouse and David Penhallow

Oh great, another book about skart? Well, not exactly. The idea of Concrete To Canvas doesn’t involve board graphics or company logos; rather, it collects the artwork of skateboarders that they create in the outside world, for the outside world, and oftentimes just for themselves. Assembled by the U.K. founders of the now-defunct art and design Web site,, the book exposes the personal art of skateboarding’s best art directors, illustrators, and riders-big or small. The bigs include the usual suspects like Ed Templeton, Dalek, and Andy Jenkins, but it’s the lesser-known artists that attract the most curiosity. Instant Winner’s Craig Metzger, Outcrow Collective’s Simon Peplow, and Heroin Skateboards founder Mark “Fos” Foster are all on display. Hey, even our art director here at TWS, Monsieur Randy Laybourne, is in the mix. So it can’t be that bad.-Carleton Curtis

Photographer Series Book

DVS Shoe Company

Photography makes the skate world go round, so it’s only right that those photographers who have had their hand in bringing us the most candid moments and exceptional talents of the likes of Jason Dill, Keith Hufnagel, and the rest of skateboarding’s greats get their own time to shine. That’s where DVS Shoe Company is celebrating five photographers (Mike O’Meally, Gabe Morford, Ben Colen, Giovanni Reda, and Atiba Jefferson), by letting them pick up their own DVS model to customize-from sole colors and luxury materials not seen on the general releases all the way to the box design. As a supplement to, and promotional giveaway prior to the Summer ’06 release of the shoes, this 50-page, 4.5 X 7.5-inch black and white photo book is limited to 8,500 copies and features each photographer’s (and ours, and probably your) portfolio favorites.-Eric Stricker

Art, Skateboarding & Life

Andy Howell with Amely Greeven

In the early to mid 80s you could find the teenage Andy Howell writing in to this very then-virgin magazine, hyped on his Virginia Beach scene and trying to let TWS (and the skate world) know about some of the then soon-to-be greats like Henry Gutierrez. Around that same time, Tony Hawk received his very first fan letter-from a kid on the East Coast named Andy Howell. These are a few of the anecdotes one learns while perusing Art, Skateboarding & Life, one of the most massive collections of skateboarding recollections, products, notes, scribbles, board graphics, stories, and artwork ever assembled of this genre-all through the eyes of Andy Howell and his journey as a creator, artist, painter, professional skateboarder, entrepreneur, teeam manager, company owner, designer, and liver and lover of life. ASL is just as much a blueprint for the not-the-norm lifestyle as it is a book that will consume your every waking hour should skateboarding and the arts interest you in the least.-Eric Stricker