I had no plans to read Gabrielle Zevin’s bestseller Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow because I thought it was about gaming. On that basis, I figured I was not the target audience and had pretty much dismissed it. But then my best reading buddy said that she’d loved it, adding that it wasn’t really about gaming but relationships. Okay, a relationship story… my favourite.
My reading buddy was right. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow is about friendship and love, but also creativity, collaboration, art, narrative structure, and the hero’s journey. Gaming provides the backdrop, or more specifically an intersection for the main characters, Sam and Sadie.
As is my usual practice, I don’t do detailed reviews of books that have dominated ‘best of’ lists and have been reviewed a squillion times on Goodreads. Instead, I’ll tell you what I liked about this book.
Firstly, it was so darn sweet. Yes, there are some heavier themes but at its heart it is a gentle, straightforward story about friendship.
…he realised that he had made a grave miscalculation when he had ended the friendship with Sadie. His mistake had been in thinking the world would be filled with Sadie Greens, people like her. It was not. … There were smart people, yes. There were people with whom you might have a decent conversation for twenty minutes. But to find someone you wanted to talk to for 609 hours – that was rare.
There were so many people who could be your lover, but, if she was honest with herself, there were relatively few people who could move you creatively.
Secondly, I loved the parallels drawn between game design and other art forms, from William Morris’s prints* to Shakespearean tragedies and Dickinson’s poetry – this could have come across as an overstretch or even pretentious but Zevin avoided that. Instead, these inclusions remind us of the importance of a solid narrative and beautiful design.
Mrs Watanabe loved hand painting, quilting, and the discipline of woven textiles, but she worried these techniques were a dying art. “Computers make everything too easy,” she said with a sigh. “People design very quickly on a monitor, and they print on some enormous industrial printer in a warehouse in a distant country, and the designer hasn’t touched a piece of fabric at any point in the process or gotten her hands dirty with ink. Computers are great for experimentation, but they’re bad for deep thinking.”
Finally, small details had me putting the book down while I did some online investigating – all sorts of things caught my interest (from textile design to the highways of LA) but the standout was mention of the glass flower collection at Harvard – how did I not know of this?! It’s now on my bucket list.
They were having hard, grown-up drinks – an old-fashioned for Marx and a whiskey sour for Sadie. It was kind of a joke, a play on being sad, middle-aged adults on a business trip.
*Strawberry Thief and video games combine here and it’s beautiful!