Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle
Wolf in White Van is the first novel by the American author and singer-songwriter John Darnielle. Wolf in White Van tells the story of Sean Phillips, a reclusive game designer whose face has been severely disfigured. One reviewer characterizes Sean as someone "steeped in video games, bad sci-fi movies, and Conan the Barbarian comic books". The plot, which is told non-chronologically, alternates between Sean's childhood, adolescence, and adulthood to describe the circumstances surrounding the incident that disfigured him. A fictional play-by-mail role-playing game called Trace Italian figures prominently in the novel. The novel has been described as a "meditation on the power of escape," exploring the escapist qualities of fantasy fiction and role-playing games, particularly as a way to cope with trauma. Wolf in White Van received positive reviews on release and was nominated for the 2014 National Book Award.