Review: 'No Beer on a Dead Planet' by Jono Coote
At the end of last year, I was contacted by Josh Sutton, a skateboarder, published author and founder of a small publishing company called ‘Red Fez Books’. He’d recently discovered the ‘Skateboarder And...’ podcast and was getting in touch because he was about to publish Jono Coote’s first novel ‘No Beer on a Dead Planet’. He wanted to know if I was interested in reading the book and having Jono feature on the podcast? Of course I was!
Josh sent me a pre-release copy of the book which I somehow managed to transfer to my kindle (much easier to read than from a PDF). I’d crossed paths with Jono Coote a few times during his tenure as a staff writer at the legendary Sidewalk Magazine, whether at VANS events or skating the XC in Hemel Hempstead. I even have a brief background cameo in one of his videos (claim to fame right there).
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Jono’s book and I later found out ‘a novel’ wasn’t the original plan. Whilst still employed at Sidewalk, Jono had booked a trip to Australia with his antipodean other half Alyce, with the idea he’d send back a sort of travelogue to appear in the mag. Not long before he was due to leave, Sidewalk wrapped up, he was made redundant and that was that. He did float the idea to Vague who seemed eager, although when he started writing he soon realised he had something else on his hands.
When I sat down to read ‘No Beer on a Dead Planet’, I really didn’t know what to expect; one man’s skate trip across Australia and New Zealand? It became evidently clear in the first few pages that this wasn’t just about skateboarding. The book has so many themes running through the 120 pages; racism, music, history, film - with references to Peter Jacksons ‘Brain Dead’ & ‘Mad Max’, to literature including old Australian Cookery books and of course, plenty of beer! He paints a vivid picture of Australia, Australian culture and of course the skate scene down under. I found myself reaching for my phone throughout, to google spots mentioned in the book and further research his many historical references. I had no idea about the Australian Black Panther party of the 1970’s and it’s things like this throughout the book that make it such an enjoyable read.
‘No Beer On a Dead Planet’ is a confident debut and I urge you to pick up a copy if you’re interested in something more than an Australian travelogue or nuts and bolts skate trip write up (that said the list of skate parks visited at the back was much appreciated).
For more info you can check out the latest episode of the ‘Skateboarder And…’ podcast where I got to have an in-depth chat with Jono about the book.
Also check out Jono’s recent interview with ‘The Skateboarders Companion’.