- Twitter / Shea Serrano
The tome follows up two New York Times Bestsellers, 2015’s The Rap Year Book and 2017’s Basketball (and Other Things), both sharp and accessible books that mix illustrations by artist Arturo Torres with informative lists and charts, plus plenty of smart, funny writing.
If you’re among those books’ legions of fans, you’re aware of Serrano’s easygoing genius for pulling together disparate threads of commentary into a whole that’s as entertaining as it is thought-provoking, as insightful as it can be delightfully absurd.
His Twitter game is fire too. He’s amassed a gang of followers, collectively dubbed the “FOH Army,” that spread the word about his projects and participate in his frequent spontaneous giving endeavors, the kind of crowdsourced acts that almost make you want to believe in humanity.
The string of successes might appear natural for Serrano. After all, he’s a badass young sports and media writer with sick crossover capabilities. He moved quickly from writing for Houston Press, where he met rapper Bun B with whom he co-penned his first book Bun B’s Rap Coloring and Activity Book, to writing for outlets like Grantland and The Ringer, publishing books and moonlighting all over.
But, Serrano, 38, tells a different story: a story that’s mostly about will and wits — and maybe a dash of luck.
In 2007, ya boy, who is originally de San Anto and moved back in 2018, was teaching middle school science in Houston when complications with his wife Larami’s pregnancy forced her to stop working. In need of money, Serrano applied for jobs at places like Walmart, Target and Pappadeaux.
He was turned down due to the lack of flexibility in his teaching schedule.
It was then that Serrano decided he would be a writer, despite the fact that “writing was not something [he] liked to do or looked forward to in school.”
“I was just Googling work-from-home jobs and ‘writer’ came up, and I was like, ‘Oh, I can do this on my own time from home, and I don’t have to, like, be at a place,’” Serrano said.
“I didn’t even know what a freelance writer was, so I started researching and picked up this antiquated book on it that was like, ‘Type up a letter and fucking mail it.’ But it did have some good stuff about how to pitch and what editors are looking for.”
He submitted pitches to every rag in H-town before getting the chance to contribute a few sports stories for the Near Northwest Banner.
“Not even the Northwest Banner, but the Near Fucking Northwest Banner,” he joked.
Serrano managed to parlay the clips into freelance work with the Houston Press, where the editors taught him how to write a story and “really opened up everything.”
The rest is quickly unfurling history, though Serrano reflects fondly on his nine-year teaching experience.
“Teaching was the best job I ever had. Writing is good for my ego. You know, people tell you all the time ‘this is so good’ or ‘this is so funny’ or ‘I wish I could do that’... it makes you feel big-headed. So, writing is good for my ego. Teaching was good for my heart. I just felt important without anyone having to tell me I was important.”
- Twitter / Shea Serrano
After having been away from San Antonio for 19 years, Serrano said it feels like this is where he and his family belong.
“For the first time in my life it feels like I am adding something to San Antonio, and that feels good,” he said.
His three favorite things about being home?
“Number one: Mendez Cafe on Bartholomew. The best tacos I’ve ever had in my life. Get a bean and cheese, a carne guisada, a Big Red and a whole bunch of green salsa. It’s my favorite restaurant.
“Number two: I like that my sons and I go to Spurs games, just like I went with my dad.
“The third thing… I don’t know if this is controversial or not. I like walking around the city and seeing that so many people look like I look. I like to see Mexican faces. It makes me feel comfortable, it makes me feel like I belong here — especially with all the shit you have going on with immigrant targeting and the border stuff.”
Pausing, he reassessed his list.
“Shit, I guess I probably should have said the last two before the taco spot.”
We’re happy to have Serrano back and glad he’s got his priorities straight.
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