Gabriel Winslow-Yost is Assistant Editor at The New York Review. (October 2015)


Video Games: The Secret Life

A screenshot from Might and Magic II: Gates to Another World (1988), one of the computer games Michael Clune writes about in Gamelife: A Memoir

Gamelife: A Memoir

by Michael W. Clune

God in the Machine: Video Games as Spiritual Pursuit

by Liel Leibovitz
Video games are consumed actively in a way that is very different from encounters with books, movies, or other art forms: by definition, one’s time with a game is time spent taking actions, making decisions; and video games generally require a long time to play—dozens, even hundreds of hours, spread out over weeks or months. All this means that an account of playing a video game inevitably involves a recollection of a portion of one’s own life, including a few of one’s own successes and failures, decisions and regrets.

A Triumph of the Comic-Book Novel

Building Stories

by Chris Ware

Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth

by Chris Ware
Chris Ware’s drawings are meticulous, even chilly, with flat, muted colors and the straight lines and perfect curves of an architectural rendering. The panels follow an orderly horizontal grid, but have a discomfiting tendency to occasionally shrink to near illegibility; or they might suddenly demand to be read from right to left, or even disappear entirely, to be replaced by pretty but unhelpful typography, complicated diagrams, or plans for a paper model of one of the stories’ locations. Dreams and fantasies invade the story without warning.

The ‘Stalker’ Game

Nikolai Grinko as ‘Professor,’ Alexander Kaidanovsky as ‘Stalker,’ and Anatoli Solonitsyn as ‘Writer’ in Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Stalker, 1979

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl

a video game by GSC Game World

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky

a video game by GSC Game World
Zona, Geoff Dyer’s recent book about the Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, has been much discussed for its almost comically thorough dissection of the stately 1979 film in which three men venture into a mysterious, dangerous “Zone,” which supposedly contains a “Room” in which wishes can be granted. In an …


Sketching an Uncertain Future

A panel from Eleanor Davis's The Hard Tomorrow, 2019

Eleanor Davis is one of the very best cartoonists working today. She has (among many other things) an amazing way of drawing people: they are both emotional expressions, as vivid and immediately legible as Bugs Bunny, and, at the same time, convincing as bodies in the world, weighty and vulnerable, with scuffed knees and unruly hair. Her new book, The Hard Tomorrow, focuses on Hannah, a thirty-something activist in a near-future America—Mark Zuckerberg is president—who is trying to get pregnant, trying to hang on to her day-job in elder care, trying to avoid the police, trying to do some good in a world that seems increasingly hopeless.

Thailand’s Genial Nightmares

Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s new film Cemetery of Splendor, in which a group of Thai soldiers have fallen mysteriously and, it seems, permanently asleep, is a gentle, open-hearted story underlain at every moment by rage and dread.

The Dark Master of Russian Film

Alexei German's Hard to Be a God, 2013

In the reimagined Middle Ages of Alexei German’s Hard to Be a God, spears threaten bare buttocks, corpses are looted, mocked, kicked aside, faces are smeared with unidentifiable muck, the rain pours down. I don’t think any film has ever depicted a world so awful with such conviction.

Grim Fragments of the Great War

A failed infantry charge in Jacques Tardi's It Was the War of the Trenches

It Was the War of the Trenches is one of the most passionately bleak works in the history of comics. French cartoonist Jacques Tardi is unremitting in his focus on the small, human details of the catastrophe of WWI—not just the look of uniforms and weaponry, but the way one soldier advances in an awkward, stiff-armed posture, “protecting my belly with the butt of the rifle,” and the way another makes sculptures and rings from discarded shells, to sell to his comrades.

Parasites in Eden

A detail from Jesse Jacobs’s Safari Honeymoon

“I draw a lot of weird doodles on scraps of paper,” says the Canadian cartoonist Jesse Jacobs—true of most cartoonists, no doubt. But few cartoonists’ work is as suffused with the spirit of the doodle as Jacobs’s. The familiar forms are there on almost every page: a profusion of cubes and spheres, wiggly organic textures, vast fields of invented vegetation. They are more elegantly drawn than your average doodles, of course, cleaned-up and colored and carefully arranged, but the doodler’s mix of repetition and improvisation is unmistakable in each of his books.