Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan 1996-97) has just been published by Random House. Publishers Weekly ( in a starred review) called it “a scintillating meditation on the promise and discontents of video games.” In his book, Tom looks at not just his own passion for video games but also the games themselves. What separates good games from bad? Where do video games fit on the sliding scale of art?

Keith Gessen, author of All the Sad Young Literary Men writes, “The last thing I ever thought I’d do in this life is read a book about video games. And yet Extra Lives is sharp, critical, very funny, and Tom Bissell’s description of killing zombies in the first iteration of Resident Evil is simply a tour de force.”

Tom, who has also written Chasing the Sea; God Lives in St. Petersburg and Other Stories; and The Father of All Things is an obsessive gamer. He is a recipient of the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Bay de Noc Community College Alumnus of the Year Award, and was a fellow at the Black Mountain Institute. Today he teaches writing at Portland State University. His next book is Bones That Shine Like Fire, a travel narrative about his visits to the tombs of the Twelve Apostles. That book will come out in 2012.

For gamer: Tom is: Xbox Live gamertag: T C Bissell; PlayStation Network gamertag: TCBissell.