The Page Turner

Well, after finally finishing Mark Danielewski’s ‘Only Revolutions’–an eternal, idyllic and American love story/maze which took me a few years to get through–I knew that I could begin tackling my goal for the summer: to read more. And so Graham and I set out last night with two objectives: to browse, if not buy, a book or two to read, as well as to find the original Indiana Jones movies.  As I near the end of Uncharted 2, and I begin thinking about my hypothetical review, it seems neccesary to have seen the movies which so many compare the game to.

Anyway, we ended up at Chapters and started combing through the entire store, trying to find something that would pique our interest. As I looked through the fantasy section, I noticed something strange. Isn’t that the cover of Alan Wake, I thought to myself? I doubled back, and sure enough, there it was: Alan Wake, by Rick Burroughs.

Interested, I turned to the back and read the following:

Welcome to Bright Falls-a seemingly idyllic small town in the Pacific Northwest. The perfect place for Alan Wake, a bestselling crime novelist, and his wife, Alice, to relax for a few weeks. Maybe a second honeymoon and the fresh air will cure Wake of his writer’s block. But when Alice goes missing under mysterious circumstances, Wake’s desperate search for her leads him into a hell only he could imagine. In the depths of nearby Cauldron Lake, a dark and malevolent presence has awakened from a long slumber. It’s reaching out now, turning the townsfolk into mindless killers. Sheathed in shadows, vulnerable only to light, they are Taken. Wake’s journey will lead him to the very edge of madness, and deep within the dark woods, he will come face-to-face with a story he has no recollection of ever writing.

I was intrigued–Alan Wake, a book? Hell, I was excited, even–what if the book was better than the game? What if I thought it was just as bad, considering that I might be subjected to more of Alan’s terrible “literature”? Who’s Rick Burroughs?

I flipped through the book and noticed that some pages showed the manuscript, and so that narrative element would still exist. And coming from a Danielewski fan–having read House of Leaves, of course–I thought that this element of narrative miiiiiiight just be more succesful in this medium than it was in the game. Or maybe not. I mean, I still don’t really care about how Mott apparently wanted my wife, or what Rose felt. Still, I very much enjoyed Danielewski’s appendix and his decision to include various documents and footnotes which further informed your understanding of the book, and so I know that the  manuscript pages are capable of being succesful in book form.

Still, I have reservations. I mean, you take a look at the narrative, dialogue and manuscript pages of Alan Wake, and what you get is something slightly better than Dan Brown. I’d make a comparison in the same genre, but I’m not well read in thrillers/horror. Then again, the genre itself tends to fall within the low brow category of ‘literature’. And while I’ve never read a video game adaptation of a book, would it be presumptuous of me to assume that they are generally not very good due to the source material? I hear the Gears books are pretty good. And browsing through Chapters, I saw adaptations of a lot of things…Assasin’s Creed, FarScape, Halo…other things I can’t quite remember.

These are but speculations, of course. And so, what better way to rid myself of them than to read the Alan Wake the book? I was going to buy it in store, but everything costs an arm and a leg in Canada, so we made an order on Amazon instead. Actually, we went book-crazy and bought quite a few things…Alan Wake, Neuromancer, Battlestar Galactica Omnibus, A Scanner Darkly, Scott Pilgrim vol 1, and Coraline. That list makes it sound like I’m a huge sci-fi nerd or something, which I’m not. Also, I’ve managed to avoid the Scott Pilgrim craze until now, and so I fully expect to not understand what the whole hoopla is about, since I’ll be reading with extremely high expectations. Oh well, such is the nature of these hype trains.

And so, once Alan Wake gets here, I will read it and post my impressions here–as well as impressions of Scott Pilgrim, and possibly BSG. First I have to make my way through Junot Diaz’ ‘The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.’ This shouldn’t be a problem, though, since I’m trucking through it pretty fast–it’s a fantastic book, and I look forward to hearing Junot speak for the freshman at Hampshire’s orientation. One of the popular rumors around campus is that Diaz wanted to teach at Hampshire, but that we didn’t hire him for some reason–if true, I’m assuming the reason is monetary in nature.

Anyway, the books should get here within a few weeks, so you’ll have to wait until then to see if Alan Wake the novel is any good!