The Novel as Video Game

We indulged in some vacation reading last week, notably we read MR. PEANUT by Adam Ross. We bought this much hyped book in hardcover, thus bucking the three-month trend at Amazon that has e books outselling hardcover volumes. But this hardcover novel, MR PEANUT, and that e-book trend have something in common, we think. They are on the same trajectory, the one that is taking us into a world where various media as we have long known them are getting all mixed up.

None of the reviews we have read have mentioned it, but MR PEANUT really seems to be constructed like a print edition video game. There are some hints that this might be the case. The protagonist, David Pepin, is a video game designer. As the book opens, he is in the midst of working out the bugs in a new game based on an optical illusion by M.C. Esher:

“The challenge of the game was to guide your avatar… through each inescapable level, each round and round realm, until you found the secret means of escape, the button or tile that uncoiled the environments’ Mobius strip.”

This could be a description of MR. PEANUT which operates in interlocking Mobius strips that twist and turn and reshape themselves. You never know exactly if a character is a character (nor in which book, since Pepin is writing a novel) or an avatar. Mobius is the name of the stooped black humanoid who rules the realm in the video game. He also shows up in the book as a mysterious wife murderer who Pepin (or his avatar) must confront.

MR. PEANUT is a fun read if you are into games. It is also a brand new twist on the novel and worthy of note for that reason. Here is a book taking the shape of a video game. Imagine the next step in which the book becomes interactive like a game.