Monday, October 04, 2010

The New Yorker: "The Dungeon Master" by Sam Lipsyte

A bunch of kids are play Dungeons & Dragons after school (at least I guess that’s what this ishaving never played the game, I don’t know if the description of the game is right or if the author has come up with something new) at the home of the “Dungeon Master,” a boy who seems a bit disturbed, although it could be nothing more than having grown up without a mother. The narrator is a shy boy on the periphery who eventually gets fed up with the Dungeon Master (the broken wrist the DM causes could have something to do with it) and moves on. 

But the DM doesn’t move on, lives in his fantasy world, and hints at a future suicide. Other kids in the group are also pretty marginalone kid who is a thief in the game turns out to be a thief in real life.

Is there a point here? Is it that wemeaning the parents of impressionable kidsneed to keep closer watch? Because it does seem to me that the Dungeon Master’s father could have been doing a better job with him, and the narrator’s parents aren’t so hot either. But, really, is that the point?

On the one hand, this story seemed far more readable than anything else I’ve read in The New Yorker lately. But I think it only appeals in a relative sense. My standards for this magazine have fallen.

October 4, 2010: “The Dungeon Master” by Sam Lipsyte

4 comments:

Hobie said...

Weird, Cliff.

Your summary reminds me of those tv movies in the 80's which attempted to scare kids away from an otherwise creative and intellectually stimulating game. Heavy handed and simplistic morality which most gamers were too smart to buy into.

Was this intended as a satire of those tv movies?

I'll (attempt to) read it, but it sounds like contrived premise and a boring story.

Mark Hubbard said...

Damn, this weeks NY fiction is Alice Munro's story Corrie, but is subscriber only.

Have you seen them putting the short fiction behind the pay-wall before Cliff? (I can't recall it and am wondering if this is the start of a new policy).

Clifford Garstang said...

It happens a few times a year, Mark. I don't think it's a trend.

windycityvegan said...

The best thing this story has going for it is that it's a fast read. It didn't seem to have a point, however as an observational 'slice-of-life' piece, I thought it fell rather flat. Looking forward to reading Munro's piece next.