226: Eric Blehm/The Darkest White

Craig in Iran, 2001.

Eric Blehm is a journalist and author who has had one of the most unique and quietly-influential careers in snowboarding.

As one of the original and most high-profile American snowboard journalists, his work certainly had a direct influence on what I ended up doing.

His work at Transworld Snowboarding, in particular, where he combined a none-more-geeky passion for snowboarding with an insatiable curiosity about the wider world, inspired me to think this ‘snowboard journalism’ lark was something I could maybe end up doing.

Eric’s storytelling talent meant he soon outgrew our little world, and these days he’s an acclaimed none-fiction writer in the Krakauer/Grann mould. But with his latest book, The Darkest White, he’s returned to his sideways roots to tell one of the most important stories of all – the life and death of Craig Kelly.

I have no hesitation in saying that The Darkest White is the best book ever written about snowboarding. It is a subtly structured and truly brilliant piece of work that, like all the best none-fiction, is about much more than its ostensible subject matter.

Of course, it a lovingly and respectfully put together biography of Craig, Eric’s friend and mentor who clearly had a huge personal impact on his life. But it is also the grown-up history of snowboarding we’ve been crying out for, which sheds new light on the key phases of our culture’s development.

And it is also a dispassionate, forensic and at times enraging (for me, anyway) look at what actually happened to Craig, and which casts the entire sorry episode in a completely new light.

Myself and Eric have plenty of mutual friends and have known of each other for years. But this is the first time we’d actually connected, which made this one a real pleasure. This one covers a lot: the books, of course, but also Eric’s own remarkable career. Hope you enjoy our conversation.

HKC Discount Club