Technically this is a well-written book. Sometimes funny, and the characterization is superb. Sadly, it characterizes a monstrously unlikable character, who refuses to learn anything from adversity, and consistently blames external factors -a game- for his problems.
It is written in an memoir format, and is the story of a hideously unsocialized boy who discovers Dungenos and Dragons. The boy comes across as a terribly repellent person, and the adult, looking back at this socially misplaced childhood appears a dissassociative personality. All the things that went wrong in his life is the fault of Dungeons and Dragons, not the fact that he was a social misfit. And his life, he believes, would have been much better if he had never picked up the dice. However, the book provides ample evidence that he was badly dysfunctional socially long before he discovered Dungeons and Dragons.
He supposes life would have been much better if he had found a different, more "normal" interest, but the book subtly illustrates that his the subject of his interest was not the problem, but the intensity of it. Looking at it with a readers eye, it seems unlikly that the main character would have been any less obsessive over a different interest. He'd simply have ended up in a subculture less tolerant of social misfits.
In writing this "memoir" the character believes he would have been much happier if the game had not conditioned him to expect more out of life and sparked his imagination. This is written by the adult character, a successful writer. He imagines that without the game dragging him down, he would have gotten better friends, a more "normal" social life, and a career not burdened by his own expectations. He never explains how the socially inept boy he was would have done so much better in the Coventry of the 70s. His reasons for believing that a "normal" adolescnese in 70s UK would be better than what he had is unclear.
To the reader it shines through that the game gave the character everything that led to success in his life. The imagination, the vocabulary, the ambition, everything that made him a popular writer. While he bitterly blames it for all his personal failiures, his life history is basically a best-case scenario for the boy we come to know through the book.
Unlike the other reviewrs, I don't think it is intended to be an honest autobiography, but a character-portrait presented as an autobiography. I went to the authors website and he seems to be doing D&D contentedly. Entirely unlike the bitter alter-ego of the book, who rejects it utterly. The problem is that by using his own name, and probably quite a bit of his own history, the author becomes too strongly identified with the utterly unlikable character.
Basically, he is too subtle in showing that the character is someone who was salvaged by dungeons & dragons. The writing is taken at face value and its not a pretty face.Read more ›