Book#35. The Elfish Gene, by John Barrowcliffe. Hardcover.
This is a delightful little memoir of a geeky boy’s journey to become a still-pretty-geeky man. The focus of the book is on John Barrowcliffe’s affection for the roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons, and how that game has shaped his life. For better and worse.
Barrowcliffe details how D&D shaped his views on relationships, both with other boys and with girls. His stories of actually obtaining girlfriends is humorous. The realizations he reports learning later in life was interesting, as well. Looking through pictures, he has recently realized he was not the ugly boy he always thought he was; he was in fact average, maybe a little better than average. Looking back, he realizes that the girls were not interested in him because of his personality alone, but in spite of it.
There is a real vulnerability in this book, as the best memoirs contain. And despite the specificity of the subject matter, I think much of what is in the book applies to anybody who viewed themselves as an outcast growing up. Or knows someone who did.
A note about the importance of book titles. If this book had been called anything other than a pun on a famous biology book, I would have completely passed over it in the library.
Source: public library