I started inline skating again after a 12ish year hiatus, and while buying some new gear, I picked up William Nealy's book Inline. This was not my first William Nealy book -- that would be Kayaks to Hell, which I bought sometime in the late 80's. I wasn't a kayaker then, nor did I plan to be, but the book was so damn funny it didn't matter.
I'm a fairly advanced skater, so I didn't need to buy Inline, but that also doesn't matter -- his books are worth it for their humor value alone. I do have some purpose for it, however: I'm thinking about teaching skating again, and I want to check out Nealy's material to see if it has useful teaching suggestions. It does, and I was planning to write Nealy a letter with gratuitous praise and a couple suggestions.
That was until I looked up his publisher to get his address, and I found out that William Nealy passed away in 2001.
I'm deeply saddened by this, as I've gone back to Nealy's books many times since I first bought Kayaks to Hell. Every couple years I pull them out and read them all again. I'm still not a kayaker, mountain biker, or anything else his books are about, but for me the value is in his great humor and cartoon style. His books are filled with personal misadventures, so it's like I know him, and today I found out I lost a friend.
So instead of sending Nealy a letter about Inline, I'll start posting my comments here. I figure he'd be honored for his book to continue contributing to the skating community as it stands, plus be the subject of ongoing discussion.