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Wolf in White Van: A Novel by John Darnielle
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Wolf in White Van: A Novel (original 2014; edition 2015)

by John Darnielle (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,0266414,740 (3.66)32
Welcome to Trace Italian, a game of strategy and survival! You may now make your first move. Isolated by a disfiguring injury since the age of seventeen, Sean Phillips crafts imaginary worlds for strangers to play in. From his small apartment in southern California, he orchestrates fantastic adventures where possibilities, both dark and bright, open in the boundaries between the real and the imagined. As the creator of Trace Italian--a text-based, role-playing game played through the mail--Sean guides players from around the world through his intricately imagined terrain, which they navigate and explore, turn by turn, seeking sanctuary in a ravaged, savage future America. Lance and Carrie are high school students from Florida, explorers of the Trace. But when they take their play into the real world, disaster strikes, and Sean is called to account for it. In the process, he is pulled back through time, tunneling toward the moment of his own self-inflicted departure from the world in which most people live.… (more)
Member:selfnoise
Title:Wolf in White Van: A Novel
Authors:John Darnielle (Author)
Info:Picador (2015), Edition: Reprint, 224 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:None

Work details

Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle (2014)

  1. 00
    Universal Harvester: A Novel by John Darnielle (sturlington)
  2. 00
    All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld (bibliovermis)
    bibliovermis: Another novel that can be read in either direction, exploring a teenage mistake and the moving on from it.
  3. 00
    Remainder by Tom McCarthy (revbean)
    revbean: Though quite different in a number of ways, Darnielle's Wolf in White Van and McCarthy's Remainder are both stories of men scarred by traumatic events who embrace world-creation as a means of coming to terms with their situations and (re)discovering themselves.… (more)
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» See also 32 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
A book where I'm really struggling with myself to figure out what the heck to write here. I didn't enjoy it the way that you usually enjoy a novel, or at least that I usually enjoy a novel, but there is something moving and writhing under the ice here with an energy of its own that elevates it above the vast majority of other books. I'm extremely interested to read more from Darnielle (I should probably just listen to some Mountain Goats albums at this point as well). ( )
  skolastic | Feb 2, 2021 |
Finished the book last night and this morning found myself starting again from the beginning. Had to stop and let the book live in my mind. America, guns, mass murder - but friendship, life, death. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jan 23, 2021 |
The novel is actually told backwards, and was written by a musician. There is a lot of prose, themes of subliminal messages, and parallels to music. Players in a mail-in game must make decisions between irrational choices. Consequences arise as players take the game into the real world. The creator is faced with a lawsuit because of a death. The whole novel asks a larger question that must be thoughtfully answered. This could be a great read for middle schoolers in an English class. It can be dark, and a bit depressing, be careful of choosing this when thinking about your audience. ( )
  Rmg058 | Nov 4, 2020 |
Overall, pretty good. To me, nothing too exciting plot/story-wise, but the writing is excellent. Cool concept, really like linking role-playing games to recovery from trauma/anxiety. ( )
  mbeaty91 | Sep 9, 2020 |
Darnielle's mastery is in avoiding the cliché while writing about the familiar. In music and obviously here inWolf in the White Van, while the story itself it anything but familiar, mostly, the themes are. The protagonist is the creator of an role-playing game in which, long before the advent of the world wide web, turns come and go through the mail. The protagonist creates a fascinating cosmogony that, however, ends up leading a girl to her death when she and her boyfriend take the game beyond their initial intentions: “Italian Citadel does not correspond to any location in the real world and I never it would have happened that someone might think so. I hardly know anything about the real world. What little I know I have gotten from books and movies. I did not deliberately send anyone to their death. I never would. I would not be able to. Please understand. I find it a bit strange to be defending something that was supposed to be a place where people can feel safe and have fun, where nothing ever happens except inside our heads. But understand also that I have to defend myself and my creation, which has given pleasure to quite a few people over the years. The Citadel is a good place. It is a place that people can go with their imagination. It's a good thing, and while I'm sorry it was bad for your daughter, it's not bad in and of itself. "

Now, the protagonist of "Wolf in the White Van" is also a man whose face was disfigured after surviving a suicide attempt by shooting himself in the mouth. He is a character who, aware of his monstrosity, rarely has contact with other people. He lives immersed in a liturgy of routines that irrevocably distance him from other human beings and that, in fact, he wants to live precisely within that strict liturgy. Darnielle never offers the reader any explanation, neither why nor by whom: the atrocity usually has no explanations, nor what, nor who. Atrocity is simply the oil that greases the machinery of an inhuman society in which people only seem to find peace away from other people, locked in their own fantasy worlds.

In fact, the protagonist of “Wolf in the White Truck” is very clear that, in all its harshness, life is still a game in which it is almost impossible to lose: “Everything ends up being reduced to a simple calculation. There are only two stories: either move on or die. But dying costs a lot, because all the twists and turns that lead to that goal lead to new ones, and you have to make the wrong decision enough times to be serious. You have to stay focused. Very few players put death in their sights ”.

Also the audiobook is a MUST have. It's read by Darnielle. 'nuff said.

Epic. Loved this one, read it in mid 2018 but having just read his 33 1/3 Masters of Reality I needed to get this down. ( )
  modioperandi | Sep 5, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
But what drives “Wolf in White Van” is Mr. Darnielle’s uncanny sense of what it’s like to feel marginalized, an outsider, a freak. He has an instinctive understanding of fetid teenage emotional states and the “timelines of meaningless afternoons that ended somewhere big and terrible.”
added by ozzer | editNew York Times, DWIGHT GARNER (Sep 25, 2014)
 
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Welcome to Trace Italian, a game of strategy and survival! You may now make your first move. Isolated by a disfiguring injury since the age of seventeen, Sean Phillips crafts imaginary worlds for strangers to play in. From his small apartment in southern California, he orchestrates fantastic adventures where possibilities, both dark and bright, open in the boundaries between the real and the imagined. As the creator of Trace Italian--a text-based, role-playing game played through the mail--Sean guides players from around the world through his intricately imagined terrain, which they navigate and explore, turn by turn, seeking sanctuary in a ravaged, savage future America. Lance and Carrie are high school students from Florida, explorers of the Trace. But when they take their play into the real world, disaster strikes, and Sean is called to account for it. In the process, he is pulled back through time, tunneling toward the moment of his own self-inflicted departure from the world in which most people live.

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