Lucky Wander Boy
D.B. Weiss
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Lucky Wander Boy

D.B. Weiss
288 pages
February 2003
rated 3 of 5 possible stars

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Those of you hardwired into the video phenomenon may come away from this with a bit more than that portion of the population who has never set finger to toggle. But even if you fall into this latter category, this delicately passionate romp into the arenas of technology and relationships is a trip worth taking.

Using antiquated arcade machines as his central totem, the author calls upon the oft-used yet proven scheme of writing a book within a book. Adam Pennyman, a man obsessed with the world of video, hits upon an idea to write the definitive tome on every obscure and out-of-production video game ever developed. This bible, called The Catalogue of Obsolete Entertainments, represents the connecting tissue; he researches antique machines, writes a chapter describing each box, and uses these focal points in an attempt to make sense of his own life.

As was touched upon earlier, these chapters dive deeply into the inner workings of these games and if you don't possess a serious knowledge of them, they tend to be little more than anally directed theses.

Adam travels to Poland and meets Anya, a woman who instantly changes his life. Adam brings her back to America - things start out wonderfully but ultimately turn to chaos and she leaves him. Concurrently, he begins working at Portal Entertainment, a video development/think-tank facility, and to his amazing luck, is assigned to work on the Lucky Wander Boy script, a game he played as a young boy and one that touched him deeply and eternally.

But events fall apart, Adam trashes the gear during a late night tear, and he is left where he began.

Weiss welds the digital and emotional worlds in an honest and touching manner but, and this is a problem befalling many first-time writers, he loses sight of his conclusion. He titles these final chapters as "Replay", and there are four of them, and none of them work. He short-circuits, is eviscerated, and generally, blown out of the water.

Still, his prose causes you to bust out laughing and even wipe away an impending tear. His characters are honest and forthright - they make mistakes socially and emotionally though they reign as Casanovas of the circuit board.

A brutally beautiful debut - the world will await his sophomore release with itchy fingers.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Steven Rosen, 2004

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