×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons and Growing Up Strange
     

The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons and Growing Up Strange

3.7 16
by Mark Barrowcliffe
 

See All Formats & Editions

In the summer of 1976, twelve-year-old Mark Barrowcliffe had a chance to be normal. He blew it. While other teenagers were being coolly rebellious, Mark—and twenty million other boys in the 1970s and ’80s—chose to spend his adolescence pretending to be a warrior, an evil priest, or a dwarf. He had discovered Dungeons & Dragons, and his life would

Overview

In the summer of 1976, twelve-year-old Mark Barrowcliffe had a chance to be normal. He blew it. While other teenagers were being coolly rebellious, Mark—and twenty million other boys in the 1970s and ’80s—chose to spend his adolescence pretending to be a warrior, an evil priest, or a dwarf. He had discovered Dungeons & Dragons, and his life would never be the same. No longer would he have to settle for being Mark Barrowcliffe, an ordinary awkward teenager from working-class Coventry, England; he could be Alf the Elf, Foghat the Gnome, or Effilc Worrab, an elven warrior with the head of a mule. This is an hilarious memoir of an adolescence spent entirely in the world of fantasy.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Funny . . . [Barrowcliffe’s] gently knowing style makes the pain of identification a pleasure.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Mark Barrowcliffe’s humorous, self-deprecating memoir of his misspent youth, ‘The Elfish Gene,’ is another welcome addition to the growing ‘nerdsploitation’ genre.”—Associated Press

“Hilarious, unbelievably well-remembered . . . begs a movie adaptation. . . . Barrowcliffe writes . . . with uncommon insight.”—The Seattle Times

“In the best tradition of British humor. . . . Laugh-out-loud funny.”—The Christian Science Monitor

“Wonderfully captures the insensitivity, insecurity and selfishness of the adolescent male.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

Publishers Weekly

As a 12-year-old in England in 1976, Barrowcliffe (Lucky Dog) made a fateful choice: he started playing Dungeons and Dragons. Role-playing games were just beginning their rise, and Barrowcliffe, along with 20 million other socially maladapted boys, spent his adolescence in dining rooms and basements as a druid, warrior or magician, throwing oddly shaped dice and slaying monsters. While D&D allowed Barrowcliffe to escape his mundane, much-bullied existence in an all-boys school, it also threw him into an equally cruel nerdiverse of Nazi wannabes, boys with nicknames like Rat and Chigger, and his polymath, Falstaffian best friend who once ate a still-frozen chicken pie on a bet. Barrowcliffe, whose own schoolboy nickname was "Spaz," wonderfully captures the insensitivity, insecurity and selfishness of the adolescent male. His eye for the oddities of 1970s British life is equally astute. At times, Barrowcliffe's relentlessly self-deprecating humor descends into a tedium of self-loathing. The book also loses some of its focus toward the end when D&D gives way to heavy metal clubs and tolerant girlfriends. However, these are minor imperfections when measured against the quality of the author's vision. Barrowcliffe renders all the comedy and sorrow of early manhood, when boys flee the wretchedness of their real status for a taste of power in imaginary domains. (Nov.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal

Adult/High School

In this autobiography, Barrowcliffe tells the story of a self-proclaimed nerd living in 1970s Coventry, England; Dungeons & Dragons; and the boys who played it. He provides a humorous look into the world of fantasy role-playing at a time when computer RPGs didn't exist and people were forced to use their imaginations. He recounts his foray into the game, his struggle to belong, and what ultimately led to his "growing up." The writing is often self-deprecating and combines views on the city with detailed descriptions of the gaming sessions. Despite-or, in part, because of-the long descriptions of gaming, this book will appeal to those interested in the RPG phenomenon. The author's character development leaves readers with a strong sense of who these boys were and why they played the game. This book is ideal for anyone who is into fantasy role-playing or interested in the cultural and social implications of such games.-Kelliann Bogan, Colby-Sawyer College, New London, NH

Kirkus Reviews
A reformed geek reflects on an adolescence spent slaying mythical creatures, much to the detriment of his social development. Growing up in Coventry, England, during the mid-1970s, Barrowcliffe (Infidelity for First-Time Fathers, 2002, etc.) was obsessed with Dungeons & Dragons. When other lads were discovering the subtle charms of the fairer sex, "Spaz," as he was (only somewhat) affectionately known to his fellow basement-dwelling denizens, was immersed in the recently released role-playing phenomenon that had made its way across the Atlantic and swept up the author and other social misfits in its wake. D&D, with its mystical worlds of sword-wielding warriors, magic spells and deadly creatures, enabled the author and his cohorts to escape from their distressingly mundane lives into a world in which they had the power to control their destinies-a welcome departure from reality, where they were outcasts at school and easy targets for bullies. For some-including the author-however, the game quickly progressed from welcome diversion to all-consuming obsession. As the game gained popularity, religious groups accused it of fueling interest in the occult and satanic rituals, but the main problem for the author was the extent to which it stunted his social growth and, until the spell was broken, precluded the chance to experience a "normal" life. Barrowcliffe's retrospective self-awareness is by turns poignant and amusing, though the level of detail he provides about the fantasy games and worlds of his youth may deter readers unfamiliar with the terminology and concepts they involve. Still, as fantasy movies dominate the box office, the author offers a timely, appropriate memoir of addictionrecovery. Not as captivating as the games it discusses, but worth a few hours holed up in the basement.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781569476017
Publisher:
Soho Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
11/01/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
754,602
Product dimensions:
5.52(w) x 8.72(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
15 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Mark Barrowcliffe worked as a journalist and a stand-up comedian before writing his first hit novel, Girlfriend 44. He has written two other acclaimed comic novels, Lucky Dog and Infidelity for First-Time Fathers. He now lives in Brighton, England.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons and Growing Up Strange 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
arcade_veteran70 More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I've read this year. Like the author, I also grew up playing D&D for years (among other dice-based RPGs). The author does an excellent job portraying the mindset of a teenage D&D addict, the typical teen-years confusion, and how the two sometimes fit and sometimes clash. I could not help but laugh many times throughout the book, "That's exactly how we acted when we played!". If you've ever really got into D&D, I highly recommend this book as a hilarious trip down memory lane.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A kid who was bullied for his love of fantasy and Dungeons and Dragons has now grown up and started bullying others who still enjoy playing. Rather than a fun trip down memory lane, the author seems to be taking bitter potshots at the only thing in his life that made him happy. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone, not fans of D&D, and certainly not people who have never played.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Booo
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whaaaat?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey everone :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi kyle.:)