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19th February 2013
Recommended Literature (Part 1)

Alan Wake's world is fuelled by literature, both as inspiration for the story and the protagonist's drive. From the manuscipts, to the historical messages about the town, the game is more than just what the gamer initially sees; in-game texts provides a lot of backstory and information about the locations and other characters. If you're an Alan Wake fan who also has a passion for books, I've created a list (in no particular order) of a few books I think you may enjoy.

Some relate to the game directly and some are by writers you should check out if you love good literature!


MILD SPOILER ALERT: References to the books' plot are either from the blurb or the first several pages of the book. If you want to have the experience completely unspoiled; the full list of books/authors are:
- A Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
- Any of John Green's Books
- Fadeout by Mikko Rautalahti
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Any of Stephen King's Books
- House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

- The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster



A HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES
JOSEPH CAMPBELL
In 1949, Joseph Campbell came up with a story archetype which can be applied to legends, myths and fables. The structure is referred to as the "Hero's Journey" which he explores in great detail in A Hero with a Thousand Faces. My copy came a couple of days ago (it's so shiny) and it's a pretty extensive but fascinating book. Admittedly it does take a little while to adjust your mind to understand Campbell's poetic description of mythology and the stages.

Alan Wake fans may recognise Campbell's Monomyth from a mention on one of the manuscript pages on the This House of Dreams Website. It's also pretty interesting to read the book with the games' storyline in mind, there's certain phrases that are reminiscent of scenes from like the "announcer of the adventure", Barbara Jagger, being described as a "mysterious veiled figure".



FADEOUT
MIKKO RAUTALAHTI

Sometimes I like to think that Mikki uses the Remedy logo as his superhero symbol and beats up plastic, futuristic potted plants; it's a strange job but someone has to do it. (Also my brother loves his Nightwing t-shirt.) And of course everyone here should know him as he is one of the writers behind the Alan Wake games. He also wrote the script for Nightwish's Imaginareum!

A couple of years ago he had a go at Nanowrimo. Nanowrimo being an annual writing event held in November where writers attempt at creating a brand new 50,000 word novel in just 30 days. After the event he posted his novel, Fadeout, online via his blog. I've downloaded it recently and I'm quite a bit of the way in at the moment, and really enjoying it!

You can download the book at his website or via Amazon, as it's exported to be read on the Kindle. And also go follow him on Twitter at @MikkiRMD.


THE GREAT GATSBY
F. SCOTT FITZGERALD

Described as the "Great American Novel", The Great Gatsby tells a story of a prosperous period in America. The story is set in 1922 and focuses on Nick Carraway's neighbour, Jay Gatsby, whose goal is to reverse time and regaining Daisy Buchanen's heart. There's several things wrong with this scenario including her marriage to Tom, her child, and also she's pretty useless when making difficult choices. 

It's a pretty interesting book for another reason; you're not going to like all of the characters, all the way though I wanted to punch Tom Bucanen, but your hatred for the other characters will make Gatsby more sympathetic. It also explores how wealth can decay moral values and the limits of trying to obtain the American Dream.

This was one of the books that my college had me study, but it is also one of my favourite books! Well...It's one of my favourite books when I'm not studying for an exam...Also I like his writing style, it's sounds somewhat poetic; "Gatsby turned out alright in the end; it was what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams." It's short, barely even 200 pages, but it's narrative is thick and condensed.


JOHN GREEN'S BOOKS

He's one of my favourite authors as his books rekindled my passion for reading. Recently I got a copy of John Green's Looking for Alaska for Christmas, and bought the rest of his series a little while ago! I usually read books over a couple of days, but I really found that I was picking the book up every opportunity I got. His recent book, The Fault In Our Stars, has been on the Bestsellers list in America for the past 52 weeks. He's just a really funny author who is also incredibly good at writing more sad and emotional scenes.

He also runs the Vlogbrothers YouTube channel with his brother (the equally talented, Hank Green) posting videos every Tuesday and Friday and can genuinely make weeks a whole lot better. They also work on an educational show entitled Crash Course, where Hank tackles Ecology (also previously Biology) and John tackles American History (and previously English Literature, and  History).

I highly recommend checking his books out, and the videos of him reading out extracts of his books: An Abundance of Katherines - Paper Towns - Looking for Alaska - Will Grayson, Will Grayson - The Fault In Our Stars





STEPHEN KING BOOKS

Stephen King is notorious for psychological horror titles, some unsettling, some quite disturbing (I read Rose Madder first...). From the first spoken lines in Alan Wake, it was obvious that Remedy had viewed his work and the theme that he delves in as a source of inspiration. It quite interesting from a literary stand-point just how different stories of similar genres have to be flexible to fit its medium.

Since he began his career in 1967, King has created over 50 stories and there are several specfic titles which Alan Wake fans would find interesting. The first one is Misery, one of his most notable works. Misery tells the story of a Writer (Paul Sheldon) and his over-eager fan (Annie Wilkes) who is obsessed with the tales of Misery Chastain and unbeknowst to Annie her favourite character has recently been killed...Also that lady is crazy.


HOUSE OF LEAVES
MARK Z DANIELEWSKI

A couple of months ago I came across a thread over at the Remedy Forums from 2008 (how is that five years ago?!) in which Sam was asked which books he recommended to Alan Wake fans. The books selected not only influenced the games but are also his favourite books. Danieleski's debut book, House of Leaves, was at the top of this list

The book has gained in popularity over the years as it not only has an interesting and immersive storyline but also presents the story in a unique and complex way. The size and location of the text emphasises the story and the atmosphere of the story; it's a little complicated to explain without seeing the text; but it's extremely interesting!

I'm currently reading it and it's a fascinating story, headache inducing because of the unusual, interesting structure, however very fun and creepy. In addition to being a great example of literature, due to its size, it can also be used to protect yourself from burglars and irritating siblings.

Also, it's a really strange fact but Mark Z Danieleski's sister is Anne Decatur Danielewski also known by her stage name, Poe. "Haunted" by Poe plays over the final credits in Episode Two.

      
THE BOOK OF ILLUSIONS
PAUL AUSTER

The Book of Illusions is another book that I'm currently in the process of reading. It appears more character focused than most, with the narration acting more like the protagonist's theraputic method to overcome the death of his wife and children...It's quite cathartic in a way; you instantly feel sympathy through the effect the plane crash has on him, especially as he tries to overcome his fear of flying. It's also quite nicely written, the story is easy to get into and it's instantly immersive.

As I've recently started the book, I've tried to limit my research into it as I don't want to spoil some of the surprises that the author has lined up, but I will conclude by saying that so far it is one of my favourite books!



 If you have any other suggestions for recommended books, I'd would love to hear them. You can post them either in the comments below, mention them in a Twitter message or post on our Facebook page. I'm planning on doing another list in the future; I have a whole bunch of books I'm looking forward to reading shortly! (Next time will include more Neil Gaiman)

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