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The Impossible: Rodney Mullen, Ryan Sheckler, and the Fantastic History of Skateboarding Paperback – July 19, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Lyons Press (July 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762770260
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762770267
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #690,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"GQ researcher Cole Louison gave himself an impossible assignment: to write the complete history of a sport without it reading like a dusty encyclopedia or self-promotional wiki page. And make it interesting to an audience of people who don't really care about that sport (while not losing the millions of potential readers who do). Plus explain what an 'ollie' is.... [H]e's accomplished just that." —GQ

"Louison is both booster and critic, and writes with an eye to contradictions—skateboarding is a loner sport with a strong community, an outlaw pastime with big-money corporate backing—and gets to the heart of an often misunderstood pursuit." —The New Yorker

"Louison . . . has a light reportorial touch, a sense of the absurd and a sincere, affable persona…. [He] has turned his attention to the skateboarding world—a milieu that suffers no shortage of absurd, and absurdly talented, characters…. Through Louison’s eyes we see a once small subculture, now thoroughly colonized by mainstream media, public relations personnel, and other non-skate actors…. That Louison is able to successfully convey the excitement of skateboarding to the layman without offending the connoisseur is a testament to his well-researched grasp of a sometimes opaque subject." —McSweeney's Internet Tendency


 

From the Back Cover

Skateboarding:  the background, technicality, culture, rebellion, marketing, conflict, and future of the global sport as seen through two of its most influential geniuses
 
Since it all began half a century ago, skateboarding has come to mystify some and to mesmerize many, including its tens of millions of adherents throughout America and the world. And yet, as ubiquitous as it is today, its origins, manners, and methods are little understood.

The Impossible aims to get skateboarding right. Journalist Cole Louison gets inside the history, culture, and major personalities of skating. He does solargely by recounting the careers of the sport’s Yoda—Rodney Mullen, who, in his mid-forties, remains the greatest skateboarder in the world, the godfather of all modern skateboarding tricks—and its Luke Skywalker—Ryan Sheckler, who became its youngest pro athlete and a celebrity at thirteen. The story begins in the 1960s, when the first boards made their way to land in the form of off-season surfing in southern California. It then follows the sport’s spikes, plateaus, and drops—including its billion-dollar apparel industry and its connection with art, fashion, and music.

In The Impossible, we come to know intimately not only skateboarding, but also two very different, equally fascinating geniuses who have shaped the sport more than anyone else.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Dan M on July 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
This guy does not know what he's talking about. Early on, he describes landing "bolts" as landing with all four wheels on the ground. Huh? Landing on all four wheels is the norm, not a challenge, and landing "bolts" means (as you might imagine) landing with your feet On The Bolts. From there, the author continues to fill the book with so many errors and inaccurate descriptions that I had to stop reading. Was there any fact-checking or copy-editing done? To top it off, he then claims that the film "Dogtown and Z-Boys" made a major error. So I'm supposed to believe a writer who has established absolutely no credibility for himself over the people who were actually there? I don't think so.

Fortunately, there are lots of good books on skating that you could read instead of this one, like Stalefish, The Answer is Never, Concrete Wave, or the autobiographies by Rodney Mullen and Tony Hawk.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael Brooke on October 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book spins an intriguing tale and covers a lot of ground. Fans of Rodney Mullen will not be disappointed...same goes with Ryan Sheckler.
There are a few glaring errors (Eric Desden?!), but despite these, the book is a very comprehensive look at something I've enjoyed for almost 4 decades: skateboarding.
I'd would have loved to have seen some images, but what can you do.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By WintertimeFun on July 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
Cole Louison has a unique writing style. He creatively captures details in a simple, yet perfect way and has a prose-like tune to his work. It's easy to follow and fun to read. It's always enjoyable reading Cole's stuff! I got a glimpse with this: [...]. It's about time a good book came out about a sport that has experienced many attitudes and created it's own cultures throughout the years.
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Format: Paperback
I really, really enjoyed Cole Louison's THE IMPOSSIBLE--it made the perfect companion piece to my post- and pre-workday skate sessions.

With direct access to Mullen himself and many others, Louison writes evocatively on the early days of Rodney Mullen's career and his family life. These chapters really jumped off the page for me--I started skating in about 1999, yet didn't know _any_ of this, despite the fact that Rodney vs. Daewon Round 2 was my first ever skate video and Mullen was my favorite skater for years. It's amazing to think of someone that talented growing up in such an adversarial environment and being able to revolutionize his passion the way Mullen did. The section on suicide and depression stuck me probably the hardest. To accomplish everything Mullen has, and not be proud, grateful, and exuberant every waking moment? In a just world, it would beggar belief--but that's human nature for you.

The stuff about The Industry is also enlightening--I'd suspected for a long time that the magazines are wholly funded by sponsors, but it's alarming to learn how much can be traced back the investments of just a few people. (Still true, though, with the corporate buyouts of recent years?) There's something especially gut-wrenching about the idea of Steve Rocco playing golf on some Pacific Island, so far removed from the hobby off of which he made his millions...

I did notice a few factual errors that probably resulted from not having a quality copyeditor--Leo Romero is not being the first person to grind up a handrail (Jeremy Wray did that first in the late 90s), Pat Duffy not belonging in the same category of young Plan B super-athletes but being an OG pro who had the opening part in their first video as one of the original handrail skaters, etc.
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By Kristen on January 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I like this book cuz it tells a lot about skating.also I have seen videos with Rodney skating.the dude is gnarly
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