Other books byTom Bissell
The Father of All Things
A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam
The Father of All Things is a riveting, haunting, and often hilarious account of a veteran and his son’s journey through Vietnam. As his father recounts his experiences as a soldier, including a near fatal injury, Tom Bissell weaves a larger history of the war and explores the controversies that still spark furious debate today. Blending history, memoir, and travelogue, The Father of All Things is a portrait of the war’s personal, political, and cultural impact from the perspective of the generation that grew up in the wake of the conflict. It is also a wise and revelatory book about the bond between fathers and sons.
Why Video Games Matter
In Extra Lives, acclaimed writer and life-long video game enthusiast Tom Bissell takes the reader on an insightful and entertaining tour of the art and meaning of video games. In just a few decades, video games have grown increasingly complex and sophisticated, and the companies that produce them are now among the most profitable in the entertainment industry. Yet few outside this world have thought deeply about how these games work, why they are so appealing, and what they are capable of artistically. Blending memoir, criticism, and first-rate reportage, Extra Lives is a milestone work about what might be the dominant popular art form of our time.
Chasing the Sea
Lost Among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia
In 1996, Tom Bissell went to Uzbekistan as a na•ve Peace Corps volunteer. Though he lasted only a few months before illness and personal crisis forced him home, Bissell found himself entranced by this remote land. Five years later he returned to explore the shrinking Aral Sea, destroyed by Soviet irrigation policies. Joining up with an exuberant translator named Rustam, Bissell slips more than once through the clutches of the Uzbek police as he makes his often wild way to the devastated sea. In Chasing the Sea, Bissell combines the story of his travels with a beguiling chronicle of Uzbekistan’s striking culture and long history of violent subjugation by despots from Jenghiz Khan to Joseph Stalin. Alternately amusing and sobering, this is a gripping portrait of a fascinating place, and the debut of a singularly gifted young writer.
Essays on Creators and Creation
In Magic Hours, award-winning essayist Tom Bissell explores the highs and lows of the creative process. He takes us from the set of The Big Bang Theory to the first novel of Ernest Hemingway to the final work of David Foster Wallace; from the films of Werner Herzog to the film of Tommy Wiseau to the editorial meeting in which Paula Fox's work was relaunched into the world. Originally published in magazines such as The Believer, The New Yorker, and Harper's, these essays represent ten years of Bissell's best writing on every aspect of creationbe it Iraq War documentaries or video-game character voicesand will provoke as much thought as they do laughter. What are sitcoms for exactly? Can art be both bad and genius? Why do some books survive and others vanish? Bissell's exploration of these questions make for gripping, unforgettable reading.