Let’s not dwell on the fact that I abandoned this endeavor for a significant amount of time. Yes, I am finally back for another week of gourmet Literary Cuisine. Without further adieu, let’s get started on this week’s delectable recommends!
1: Gone Home (Video Game)
I can’t exactly remember why I bought the game Gone Home for the PS4. The game wasn’t one that stood out to me as something special. Actually, it was the opposite. I was familiar with the title, having seen the beginning of a few playthroughs and believing it to be a game in the horror genre, a genre I usually stay away from. For this reason, I believed the game to be a silly one at best. But for some reason I bought it, and for the life of me can’t remember why. I only remember that I bought it right after I bought Firewatch (a game I recommended in another Literary Cuisine blog (this one!)) and Gone Home was in the section where it tells you what other people bought when they bought Firewatch. So I bought it and began to play. The first time I clicked start I was met with dark hallways and booming thunder that made my heart jump into my throat. I made the assumption that this was a game in the horror genre, which I can’t do. It seemed that at any moment a person was going to pop out from behind something and reveal they killed my family and were going to kill me too. But that never happened. Before I go on, let me explain the premise of this game. In the game Gone Home you play Kaitlin Greenbriar who is returning home from an overseas trip when she finds the house completely deserted. Your job is to figure out where your family (mom, dad, and younger sister Samantha) have gone by exploring the house and using clues left throughout. I stopped playing Gone Home after about 20 minutes, too scared to move forward and wondering if I had wasted my money. Luckily I gave the game another chance (and it helped that I decided to play the game during the early afternoon vs. the late hours of the night). As I explored the house and listened to the audio journals that played over ethereal music, I quickly realized that this was no ordinary game. Gone Home is not only a masterwork in gaming but also in storytelling. Similar to Firewatch, it takes a simple premise that shapes the game based on character development instead of obstacles and timed challenges. My love for the game stems from the fact that I’ve never experienced gaming quite like this before. As I said, in the beginning I walked in completely terrified something was going to jump out at me. But exploring this house did nothing of the sort and became so much more than jump scares and high speed chases. It was an experience that I will never forget that left me in awe and brought tears to my eyes. Someone in a gaming forum referred to the game as a “visual novel” which is a perfect description. I can’t reveal the ending because I encourage everyone to play the game themselves and let the story bask you in all of it’s glory. Trust me, it is worth every penny. Buy the game for your PC or console here.
2: Bible Adventures by Gabe Durham (Boss Fight Books) (Book)
No one could ever look at me and say, “yeah she is a hardcore gamer,” because I’m not that hardcore. But that isn’t to say I don’t love video games. I grew up in the golden age of video games. Nintendo 64 was the first system I ever owned and I still own it today (I just beat Banjo Kazooie. It only took me 18 years. Be jealous of my skills). What do I love more than video games? Well, it’s in the title of my blog…reading! Books! Combine the two equals a match made in heaven. Enter Boss Fight Books. I just heard of this company about a month or two ago after coming across their Kickstarter for their third season of this amazing book series. It didn’t take me long to support their campaign. In a nutshell, Boss Fight Books is a series founded in 2013 by a man named Gabe Durham which publishes books about classic video games. The books take unique looks at video games and each is authored by a different person. The one I read is titled Bible Adventures and was written by Gabe himself. If you are familiar with me and my blog, you will know that I take a big interest in Christian theology and it’s relationship to culture. While I never played any Bible games growing up, I am aware of the various releases and knew Gabe’s book was one I’d probably enjoy. The book was fantastic. Gabe framed his book around his own personal experience with Christianity and Bible Games while largely discussing the history of the company that created many of the games known as Wisdom Tree/Color Dreams and taking a critical look at the Christian entertainment industry. Like I said before, this book was fantastic. Not only did it have fantastic content and was well written but the cover art is really really amazing. The minimalistic interpretation of Noah stacking animals up on his head is not only hilarious but practically genius. I love this book so much that I may start playing the games in this book series so I can actually read the rest of the books. Go and buy them here!
3: The Price of Salt / Carol by Patricia Highsmith (Book)
The romance genre is one I tend to stay away from. That isn’t to say I have never come across really great love stories that push the boundaries of fiction and really make me rethink love altogether, but more often than not I find romance to be shallow and a quick cash grab. Then there is the genre of same-sex romance. If it weren’t for being an English major, I may never have been exposed to these stories. Many of them are just as shallow and mindless as a lot of straight love stories on the market and in my experience they are sometimes worse, plagued with this idea that just because we don’t have a straight couple it has to be entirely about promiscuity and water-in-hand emotions. Carol is not that type of love story. Originally titled The Price of Salt, Carol is a novel about a young woman named Therese Belivet who is living in Manhattan and looking for a job as a theatre set designer. When she is working during the Christmas holidays at a department store she notices a woman named Carol Aird. The two of them form a relationship and fall in love. And I fell in love not only with these two characters but the language and voice of Patricia Highsmith. The novel read like a literary classic. Upon finishing the first chapter, I had a moment of holding the book close to my chest as if I wanted to savor that one chapter and stop reading so that I would never have to finish the book. What made this book so revolutionary for its time (it was published in 1952 under the pseudonym Claire Morgan) is it’s unprecedented happy ending for a lesbian couple. Books with gay characters would often end with the notion that they could never be together because of societal rules or one of the characters would die. But Carol is different. If you haven’t read this gem yet, don’t hesitate it to buy it now on Amazon. And be sure to check out the film adaption which is also very well done.
4: Literary Disco (Podcast)
I love podcasts. I love books. Finding a good podcast about books has always been a complicated process for me. For some reason I have always been very picky when it comes to who I listen to discussing literature. I came across Literary Disco randomly…something to do with Rider Strong from Boy Meets World being on the show. Confession time, I didn’t grow up watching Boy Meets World and the many episodes I’ve seen didn’t impress me. It’s a dressed up Full House as far as I can see. That being said, I thought it was cool that one of the actors was a huge book nerd and decided to check out the podcast. BEST. DECISION. EVER. Literary Disco has quickly become one of my favorite podcasts. What differentiates between them and other book podcasts is that they have such profound and interesting conversations that take you well beyond the book at hand. All of the hosts, Rider, Julia, and Todd, have unique opinions and it is so fun listening to their banter. They are a lot of fun but it is also very apparent that these three are super smart. Listening to them reminds me of why I loved being an English major in college, for discussions like these. Check out the podcast on iTunes or at their website.
5: The People v. O.J. Simpson (Television)
We are in a golden age of television. TV has upped its game in producing content that isn’t just the typical entertainment for the sake of entertaining. Showrunners realize that audiences want more. While there are a ton of great shows out there at the moment, none can compare to the brilliance that is American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson. Going into this show, I was a bit nervous. I was aware it was made by the same people who make American Horror Story, a show I stay away from. See #1 again. But I’ve heard good things and so many people were talking about this FX drama, I figured I should watch it. Plus, my mom was interested in watching it and we never share the same interest in television. Finally, this was something we could watch together and enjoy. O.J. turned out to be one of the best pieces of television I have ever encountered. The retelling of the O.J. Simpson trial not only did a great job retelling on a surface level, it took things to an entirely new level. The show examined gender, race, the political climate at the time, storytelling and propaganda, media manipulation, celebrity, etc. In other words, the show didn’t just simply retell us the story of this epic trial, it got down to every single aspect of the trial. That is not an easy task. It is like trying to pick up every individual grain of sand that forms the beach. Being able to unbiasedly look at this trial and all aspects of it and why it turned out the way it did is nothing short of brilliant. The show seemed to move forward understanding that its characters were human. That may seem like a weird statement but flick on any CBS or ABC comedy or drama and most of the time the characters are cardboard cutouts placed to make certain jokes work over and over again. This show didn’t do that. It never forgot the motives for any of these people. It has to be one of the best adaptations of a real historical event. I can’t wait to see what is next for American Crime Story.
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