3 Books For Summer Beach Reading

For those seeking a good read to take along for your beach vacation, there are several new books that touch upon many of HardyMag’s readers’ lives and interests.  These selections have diverse subject matter ranging from the impact upon society of video games all the way to guys who fantasize about offing their wives.  We threw in a lascivious option as well which entails a fictional depiction of a 1980’s era music producer.

Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter

This book by a talented young journalist named Tom Bissell, and it delves into the current video game craze seeking to extrapolate the genre’s reflection — and effects — upon society.  Mr. Bissell is obviously a gamer, and he attempts with this work to define video games along the same terms as other art forms.  Although it is a stretch to compare WoW to Picasso, Bissell makes a cogent argument and illustrates some interesting points.  He even goes so far as to say that Grand Theft Auto 4 was the “the most colossal creative achievement of the last 25 years”.  Although this very well may be hyperbole, Bissell lays out his rationale in a clear and concise fashion.

Bissell also delves into the darker side of video games, and he concedes that they can be as addictive as crack.  He confesses to his own addiction which was actually two-fold — he began to use cocaine in order to help stay awake for marathon multi-day video game sessions.  He goes on to argue that video games provide essential life experiences which are just as important as those received in “real life”.  His analysis shows that video games have definitely improved his life, but they have also adversely impacted his existence within many realms.  All you hardcore gamers out there will surely find this a fascinating read.

Mr. Peanut

This new book was penned by a former teacher from Nashville named Adam Ross.  It starts off with the main character, David Pepin, fantasizing about his wife being struck dead by lightning.  He then envisions her being hit by a speeding train before his fantasies diverge to her being the unfortunate victim of a falling girder while walking by a construction site.  Soon thereafter, his wife Alice actually does succumb to a fatal allergic reaction to peanuts.  Police soon suspect that David either tricked his wife into eating them, or literally forced them down her throat.

The murder-mystery then plays out, and the ensuing investigation proceeds to delve into the world of relationships, marriage, love and brutality.  Mr. Peanut is elegantly written with descriptive prose — bringing scenes like a fatal car crash into the reader’s mind in stunning 3D.  Common themes run throughout the novel, and the male characters — whether they be suspects or detectives — share a common angst when it comes to dealing with their wives and girlfriends.

Hopefully — for the sake of the author’s wife — this novel displays a great imagination and talent for fiction.  The morbid fantasies held by many of the men in this book surely might be commonplace, but few men decide to put them graphically upon the pages of a literary work.  Make sure you hide this one from your wife or girlfriend — she might end up getting the wrong idea about you.

A Visit From The Goon Squad

This quirky and tough novel by Jennifer Egan is a series of interlocking stories more akin to Pulp Fiction as opposed to a single focused story line.  One vignette features a character named Lou who is a 1980’s slick 40-something music producer.  Lou is immersed in a life of coke and chasing teenage girls — habits which stick with him throughout most of his life.  Each phase of his life is depicted in different stories, and they all intertwine to show his progression through life with many aspects never changing.

The poignant conclusion occurs current day when Lou is in his 70’s and dying.  Past conquests — now in their 30’s and 40’s with husbands and kids — pay him final visits which allow him to re-live portions of his wild past.  However, the emptiness of his existence is only reinforced, and Egan uses Lou as a vehicle with which to express her own commentary on what pigs we guys can be.  This is a point that is hard to argue with.

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