The Game & Read Podcast: Tropes with Lessons

Summer starts tomorrow and we’re back with another episode of the Game & Read podcast! This week we are joined by our good friend Julia to discuss June’s pairing of A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen and “Gone Home” from the Fullbright Company.

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-Erin & Peter

#FridayReads: June 2

Welcome to June!! It’s Friday, and it’s June, and it’s basically summer, so things are good. I’m in Texas on this Friday visiting my family (and celebrating my brother’s graduation from high school), and I thought I’d write a Friday Reads/book haul combo post!

51cn1dnlzgl-_sx328_bo1204203200_I finished Dr. Potter’s Medicine Show by Eric Scott Fischl, and just wasn’t that impressed. The characters weren’t especially gripping and it felt like there were so many threads that I lost track of who went where. It was an interesting concept, and I loved the idea of a traveling freak show with weird supernatural leanings, but there was way too much going on for me to really enjoy the story.

73ef4de831439bf11642336a79b88364This week, I’m reading Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris. It’s about a marketing/ad agency experiencing layoffs, and the quirky characters that work there (or used to work there). I’m about 100 pages in and it’s pretty strange so far, but I am intrigued.

Now, onto the book haul! We went to Recycled Reads, a used bookstore run by the Austin Public Library. It’s the best – all paperbacks are $1 and all hardbacks are $2. We really don’t need a ton of books (since our shelves are pretty full already) but I couldn’t resist.

recycledreads_logo_with_tagline_300dpiI picked up…

  • The Expats // Chris Pavone
  • Grotesque // Natsuo Kirino
  • The Panopticon // Jenni Fagan
  • A Thousand Acres // Jane Smiley
  • The Watcher // Charlotte Link

As always, I’m looking forward to ALL these books…along with the handful of books my mom is sending me back with and all the ones on our shelves at home. I’ll get to them all, eventually!

I’d love to know what you’re reading, if you have thoughts on any of the books I picked up, or if you’ve got recommendations for what I should read next, so let me know in the comments or over on Twitter.

If you want more Game & Read, you can find us on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook, and keep up with all of our shenanigans by listening to the Game & Read podcast.

Until next time, happy reading!

–Erin

 

Erin’s May Reading Wrap Up

Finished in May:
Winter Tide // Ruthanna Emrys
–Rating: 2/5 stars
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books // Azar Nafisi
–Rating: 3/5 stars
Gutshot // Amelia Gray
–Rating: 4/5 stars
Dr. Potter’s Medicine Show // Eric Scott Fischl
–Rating: 2/5 stars
This Beautiful Life // Helen Schulman
–Rating: 1/5 stars
The Devil and Webster // Jean Hanff Korelitz
–Rating: 3/5 stars
The Bridge of San Luis Rey // Thornton Wilder
–Rating: 3/5 stars

Currently Reading:
Penance // Kanae Minato

2017 Goodreads Challenge:
42/115 (added 7 books in May)

2017 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge:
I completed two tasks this month: Read a book published between 1900 and 1950 (The Bridge of San Luis Rey, 1927) and Read a book about books (Reading Lolita in Tehran). This brings my count up to 8 complete, with 16 more to go (yikes)…but I think I can still finish it!

Erin & Kirsten’s Year of Pulitzers, 2017:
We read The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder this month, and it was an interesting pick. Though the writing felt pretty formal, and kept the reader at a bit of a distance, Wilder wove the stories of Pepita, Esteban, Uncle Pio, and others into a tale of drama and emotion that kept us going. Wilder as an author captured both our attention, and both of us are going to read more Wilder! Our June book is A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley, and I’ll let you know what we thought in my June wrap up.

As always, I am a fairly active Goodreads user and you can find me at goodreads.com/emurch (though I will admit I’ve fallen a little behind on reviews). If you have any thoughts about any of the books I’ve read this month leave a comment or tweet me @GameandRead.

If you want more Game & Read, we post pictures on Instagram, you can find us on Facebook, and listen to our weekly podcast available here on the blog and on iTunes and Stitcher.

Until next time, happy reading!

–Erin

#FridayReads: May 26

It’s already quitting time, and I’m a little late to the Friday Reads party…but I’m here, it’s raining, it’s a holiday weekend, and I’m ready to read!

amelia-grayI finished Gutshot by Amelia Gray this week, and it was totally crazy banana pants. The stories were creepy and sort of terrifying but utterly intriguing, and there were many stories I read more than once as I tried to really understand Gray’s twisted mind. Gray constructs her stories in such a strange way – some feel like full short stories, others are snippets of something far darker, and still others feel like a macabre stream of consciousness or lucid dream. Gutshot was less of a short story collection and more of a peek into a world we can only hope is far, far from reality. I am really interested in reading Gray’s novels, and I think I’ll be putting at least one of her longer works on hold soon.

51cn1dnlzgl-_sx328_bo1204203200_I continue to read Dr. Potter’s Medicine Show by Eric Scott Fischl, and I am making it my Friday Reads again this week because I REALLY want to finish this one. I am a little lukewarm on this story thus far. I’m a little more than halfway through, and I have mixed feelings about Fischl’s writing. I am invested in the lives of Potter and Mercy, but I haven’t formed an attachment to Josiah McDaniel or Sol and Ag. I’m intrigued by Hedwith, but there hasn’t been quite enough for me to feel that I’m in his story. I am hoping that the book picks up in the second half, and I really do plan on finishing it this weekend (especially since Monday is a work holiday for me).

That’s what I’m reading! I’d love to know what you’re reading, if you have thoughts on these books, or if you’ve got recommendations for what I should read next, so let me know in the comments or over on Twitter.

If you want more Game & Read, you can find us on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook, and keep up with all of our shenanigans by listening to the Game & Read podcast.

Until next time, happy reading!

–Erin

Final Thoughts: Persepolis, Reading Lolita in Tehran, and 1979 Revolution

This month, we’ve been digging into the Iranian revolution of 1979 with our pairing of Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi, and “1979 Revolution: Black Friday” from iNK Studios and directed by Navid Khonsari. To wrap up this pairing, I want to talk a little bit about socioeconomic status and education, and the role they play in these stories.

What is striking, and significant, is that Satrapi, Nafisi, and Reza (the protagonist of “1979 Revolution”) are all well educated and come from solidly middle to upper middle class families. This is clear in the stories of travels abroad – Satrapi in Vienna, Nafisi in the United States, and Reza in Germany. This is simply a fact of life for our protagonists, and the experience of studying in Western countries is mentioned a bit haphazardly. Satrapi and Nafisi spend a number of pages on their time away from Iran, but they don’t really confront the privileges that allow them to leave the tumultuous country of their family. “1979 Revolution” is covering a much smaller time span and is so focused on the events of the days leading up to Black Friday (September 8, 1978), but the fact that they mention Reza’s European education, even just in passing, is worth noting. Reza’s socioeconomic status is clearly defined by his time in Germany and his parents’ support of the cushy life they experience under the Shah (Reza Pahlavi). For all three protagonists, the educated, financially comfortable life they lead is accepted…if not unequivocally, with few protests. This is one of my struggles with these stories: while we get a variety of perspectives – male, female, child, adult, academic, protestor – they are all in the same strain of middle class, educated Iranians.

There are two specific stories in Persepolis and “1979 Revolution” that challenge the middle class, educated identity of Satrapi and Reza. In chapter 5 of Persepolis, Satrapi tells the story of her maid Mehri and the boy next door. Mehri was from the country and began working for Satrapi’s family because Mehri’s own family was very poor. Mehri was illiterate, and asked Satrapi to write love letters to the boy next door. When Satrapi’s father found out what was going on, he forbid Satrapi to continue and exposed Mehri’s status as a poor, uneducated, country girl. Satrapi spend a few panels detailing her internal struggle of finally recognizing the class difference between her and Mehri, and this is one of my favorite parts of the book. Satrapi captures a child’s confusion of socioeconomic class and the associations – both positive and negative – with difference social and socioeconomic statuses.

Reza also has a moment of confusion and clarity around socioeconomic status with his family’s servant, Babak. This was more striking to me than Satrapi’s story with Mehri. From the beginning of the game, it appears Babak is one of Reza’s very close friends – they meet on the rooftop and Babak draws Reza into the revolution. It isn’t until much later that we discover Babak is a servant in Reza’s family home, like a brother to Reza, but still a servant. This is made clear when Babak serves the family dinner and answers the telephone for them. Reza invites Babak to eat dinner at the table with the family, an invitation that draws rebuke from Reza’s mother. It serves as a reality check, much like Mehri’s story, to the stark differences between social classes in Iran.

The tension between socioeconomic classes is present is so many societies, and yet it is only lightly touched in all three of our stories for this month’s pairing. Perhaps this is because our authors are all educated and middle class, intellectuals who have the ability to write memoirs and develop games about their experiences during the Iranian revolution. Yet I think it’s important to identify this missing piece, and understand the lens through which our protagonists tell the stories. Socioeconomic status does not invalidate or cheapen these stories – Satrapi, Nafisi, and Khonsari are sharing really important experiences, especially now – but they do leave out the stories of the country folk, the uneducated, and the deeply religious. This month’s pairing stands as a reminder that humanizing is important and hard, and that no one speaks for everyone.

–Erin

The Game & Read Podcast: Grumpy Old Polish Man

We have come to the end of our Iran pairing for the month of May 2017. This week we finish up discussion of Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi and “1979 Revolution: Black Friday” by iNK Studios. In addition to the pairing we talk about “Yakuza 0”, “Breath of the Wild”, and Gutshot by Amelia Gray.

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-Erin & Peter