To some people, Tom Bissell is just another geek who has a natural way with words and is able to earn a living as a journalist and writer. This is because the 2010 Guggenheim Fellow has extensively written about the importance of video games in newspapers like The New Yorker, and also contributed to the scripts of such games like Gears of War: Judgment (2013), Battlefield Hardline (2015), Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (2016), and Gears of War 4 (2016), among others. Here is a look at all of the work of the acclaimed journalist, writer, and critic.
Tom Bissell Biography
Tom Bissell was born on the 9th of January, 1974. Details about his actual place of birth, the identity of his parents, and whether he is an only child or has siblings are not clear. It is only known that his father is a veteran who served in the US Marines during the Vietnam War.
In regards to his education, it is not known where Bissell attended high school, however, he went on to attend Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan where he studied English. Following the completion of his degree, he became a volunteer for the Peace Corps and traveled to Uzbekistan, spending seven months in the landlocked Central Asian country before returning home.
Back Stateside, Tom Bissell relocated to New York City where he worked as a book editor and also as a reviewer for The New York Times Book Review. He then went on to become a contributing editor for magazines such as The New Republic, Harper’s Magazine, Slate, and The Virginia Quarterly Review, where his articles where focused on topics such as politics, history, and autobiography. He is known to have traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan during wartime to write his stories.
Tom Bissell Books
In 2003, Tom Bissell’s first book titled Chasing the Sea: Lost Among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia was published. He writes in his debut book about his travels to Uzbekistan, both as a Peace Corp volunteer and five years later as a tourist. That same year, in collaboration with Jeff Alexander, he releases a collection of fake DVD commentaries for popular films by political figures and pundits titled Speak, Commentary: The Big Little Book of Fake Dvd Commentaries (2003).
Bissell’s next effort was seen in God Lives in St. Petersburg: and Other Stories (2005), and he followed that up with The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam (2007). In 2010, he wrote about the social relevance and importance of video games in Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter (2010). He followed that up with Magic Hours: Essays On Creators and Creation (2012), and then a collaboration with Greg Sestero for The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made (2013).
His most recent books since that time include Apostle: Travels Among the Tombs of the Twelve (2016) and Everything About Everything: Infinite Jest, Twenty Years Later (2016).
Facts About The Author
1. As mentioned above, Tom Bissell’s father was a United States Marine during the Vietnam War. During that time, he met and became friends with author and journalist Philip Caputo, who is best known for penning his experiences during the war in the memoir A Rumor of War (1977). Bissell’s father and Caputo remained friends while Tom was growing up and the famed writer is said to have read some of the young boy’s early work, encouraging and somewhat offering guidance to him.
In addition to Caputo, writers Jim Harrison and Thomas McGuane are also said to have been a major influence on his work.
2. Over the years, Tom Bissell has been recognized with several awards for his work. They include the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Anna Akhmatova Prize, a Writer Guild of America Award, and the Best Travel Writing Award from Peace Corps Writers. His work as a journalist has further been anthologized in The Best American Travel Writing and The Best American Science Writing.
3. Some of the books in which Bissell is known to have edited during his time as a book editor include Paula Fox’s memoir Borrowed Finery and The Collected Stories of Richard Yates.
4. Bissell has written about his addiction to recreational drugs like cocaine and video games. In appreciation to his love for Gears of War: Judgment, which he co-wrote, the makers of the game created a character named Hank Bissell in Gears of War 2.
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5. The 2011 movie, The Loneliest Planet, written and directed by Julia Loktev, is based on Bissell’s story “Expensive Trips Nowhere.” His story “Aral” also formed the basis for Werner Herzog’s 2016 film, Salt and Fire.
6. Tom Bissell’s alma mater, Michigan State University has highlighted and recognized his literary work in their Michigan Writers Series.