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June 19, 2017

Book Notes - Andrew Ervin "Bit by Bit"

Bit by Bit

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Andrew Ervin's Bit by Bit is an engaging and insightful exploration of video games as art.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"It's unusual for a history of video games to feature multiple quotes from Rilke, references to philosophy and Zen Buddhism, and comparisons to great works of art. But that’s exactly what Ervin serves up to support his compelling argument: video games can be art."

In his own words, here is Andrew Ervin's Book Notes music playlist for his book Bit by Bit:

I wrote Bit by Bit, my first book of nonfiction, because I wanted to understand how contemporary artists were using digital tools to tell and share stories. As a fiction writer, I find it enormously valuable to see how artists working in other media address some of the same questions I face on the page. To that end, I researched the history of video games from Tennis for Two (1958) to the present and learned that they developed within and alongside the military-industrial complex. That might explain why even today so many of us believe that the ultraviolent first-person shooter genre is indicative of all video games. That’s a common misperception, and it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Not all video games are artful, not by any stretch of the imagination, but in this book I focused my attention on the titles that expanded the creative possibilities of the medium. It’s written, I imagine, for people like me who are more comfortable holding a book than a controller, but who are also curious to know more about what the best video games have to each us about ourselves and our interactions online and IRL. I’ve come to love returning to some video games—Journey and Vib-Ribbon, Monument Valley and Passage—the way I love returning to some of my favorite novels. I haven’t brought myself to delete my World of Warcraft toon.

For the purposes of this playlist, it didn’t feel right to pull excerpts from my absolute favorite video game soundtracks. Ben Prunty’s music for Gravity Ghost (2015) and, in particular, Austin Wintory’s for Journey (2012) deserve to be heard in full. They are tremendous artistic accomplishments in their own rights and make their respective games even more fulfilling. Like Bit by Bit, the present Book Notes playlist is meant to be enjoyed by gamers and non-gamers alike. You can hear it on Spotify. Thanks for listening.

Andrew Ervin and Bit by Bit links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry
excerpt from the book

Electric Literarure review
Publishers Weekly review
Washington Post review
Winnipeg Free Press review

Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for Burning Down George Orwell's House
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Extraordinary Renditions
Tin House review

also at Largehearted Boy:

Support the Largehearted Boy website

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

Largehearted Boy's 2017 Summer Reading Suggestions

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists

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