Humble Book Review: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

Had you ever been separated from family or familiarity as a child? Couldn’t locate your parents in a busy mall, or walked a few blocks in the wrong direction and lost your bearings? At a young age, this can be a very scary thought – you’re mostly dependant on the care of others. When that link is severed, even momentarily, panic soon sets in.

That’s the basic idea behind The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, where nine-year-old Trisha becomes separated from her mother and brother while on a hike in the wilderness. With each failed attempt at reasoning for the best course of action, she finds herself deeper and deeper into the woods, all alone.

That sense of loneliness slowly begins to dissipate, however, when she discovers she packed her portable radio and can tune in to baseball matches featuring her hero, Tom Gordon. As her mind starts to slip, she imagines him by her side, comforting her.

At the same time, a malevolent presence stalks her, feeding off her fear, waiting for the right time to show itself…

I loved this book exactly for what it was – a focused, self-contained popcorn novel. No external factors to complicate things, just the story beginning with a girl going on a hike. We get shown some of the family dynamic, but after the point of separation, it is just a story of a young girl fighting for survival in unfamiliar territory.

Trisha is a well-sculpted character, everything she does is believable for her age. The addition of imaginary dialogue between her and her hero also means the book doesn’t resort to strange self-narration, due to being the only character around.

It felt a bit like a departure from King’s norm, in that the main character stumbled onto the home of this malevolent spirit, not the other way around. It took a very passive role overall, unlike the majority of King’s antagonists. Arguably, the main antagonist wasn’t the spirit, but more the natural elements themselves.

Still, a great read and like the story itself, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon was disconnected from the larger Stephen King Multiverse – but in a comforting way.

WOTH: Platinums #21 & #22 – Arcade Game Series: Galaga & Dig Dug

The first video games I associate with my childhood mainly come from the shareware hard disks found at computer swap meets. I’d be taken around there, find a few to pester Dad to buy for me, then ask nicely (read: whining) for him to install it on our trusty MS-DOS home PC. Those games ranged from the ported classics, such as Frogger or Rockwell, to the (at the time) newer games like Wacky Wheels, or Rise of the Triad.

I never encountered any versions of Galaga or Dig Dug, however. Playing these as part of the Arcade Game Series collection was quite a new experience, given they were before my time. Sure, I’d seen probably countless knock-offs of the originals. Certainly regarding Dig Dug, Rockwell had similar mechanics and felt like a modern take on it.

So what was it like spending a few days as an 80’s kid?

It felt great to meet the grandparents of contemporary games – while playing them, you could think about how the very basic mechanics evolved over time to become what they are today. The old shoot but don’t get shot of Galaga, and the strategic path-finding of Dig Dug really had given rise to countless current game mechanics and designs.

But, of course, there was the distinct feeling of out-datedness. The very discrete responses when giving inputs from a modern controller is the most jarring – especially when, say, you try to turn while going in one direction, and the game cannot recognise the input until your sprite lines up with the row it’s turning into, often resulting in no recognition or even turning back towards an enemy. Little things like that, however, didn’t phase me in the long run. Given these were relatively short experiences, it was something I could easily put up with.

Regarding platinum difficulties, these two games are ranked pretty similar to the Pac-Man games. As long as you appropriately abuse the game-saving exploit offered by PS Plus, you’ll be fine. You may get frustrated with the longer trophies, such as Rambler (destroying 1000 spaces in one game) for Dig Dug, or getting perfect scores on 5 of the Galaga levels, but after following a few Youtube guides, the platinum trophies should come to you in 3-4 hours each.


Currently playing:

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PS4)
  • Amnesia: Memories (PS Vita)
  • Little Deviants (PS Vita)
  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (PS4)
  • Borderlands 2 (PS4)

Humble Book Review: Civilization and Its Discontents

Civilization and Its Discontents is a brilliant summation of most of his former works. His explanations for human nature involving the id, the ego, and the super-ego structure pairs up with the individual’s struggle to exist in a civilization.

According to Freud, we are defined by opposing forces Thanatos (death drive), and Eros (sex drive). These internal struggles lead to human aggression, showing itself either internally or externally, depending on the makeup of your idand super-ego. These individual discontents eventually manifest themselves into human aggression on the civilization level, and the question is posed whether we will ever be able to overcome these frustrations.

This was a very engaging read, primarily because it opened up and formally collated many disjointed notions of the world I’ve held before. My thoughts on civilization and my micro-frustrations towards it, along with the way the world is, were only fleeting across my consciousness. But I knew they existed. Having read this text, I can at least bundle them together and assign them as something that we all supposedly go through, which provides more comfort.

Will we ever be able to overcome the aggressions Freud discussed? It’s a weighted question. Given that these aggressions tie to our fundamental human nature, it seems very unlikely to change.