It’s true confession time–I’m a bit obsessed with a video game. Red Dead Redemption II is a survival game set in 1890s in a fictionalized representation of the Western, Midwestern, and Southern United States. Players become Arthur Morgan, a member of a notorious gang, and are encouraged to follow the game’s story-line in order survive the decline of the Wild West, government forces, rival gangs, and other adversaries. Usually, this kind of a game is a bit too shoot-em-up for my style, but I find that as Arthur, I can mount a horse, ignore the missions the game wants me to embark on, and instead just ride on and on, enjoying the gorgeous landscape of early 19th-Century America. Don’t laugh –the scenery in this game is indeed that good. In fact, the game designers actually were inspired by 19th-century painters like Rembrandt and American landscape artists who were members of the Hudson River School when they created this game. After an hour of play, I’m relaxed from all the flora and fauna around me and, oh yeah, did I mention that I get to be a cowboy too?
In reality, taming the wilderness was neither all that fun or easy, and I get to see that in live action too, while I’m watching “Barkskins” on the National Geographic channel. This TV adaptation of Annie Proulx’s 2016 novel is set in the colonial region of New France in the last years of the 17th-century. It chronicles the deforestation of the New World, beginning with the arrival of two immigrants to New France, René Sel and Charles Duquet, who are tasked with work as wood-cutters, or “barkskins.” As you might imagine, it’s a rough life for these men, and on all sides there is threat of death as English and French vie for land and power. The show, lavishly set with wood-built settlements of the main town, dark candle-lit interiors and rustic pathways where we would have modern city streets, creates the feel of danger around every corner and puts viewers right in the action. Part western, part soap opera, part saga of good versus evil, this show is 100% totally binge-able. I dare you to look away.
Want some adventure in your life? Place a hold for Barkskins in book format in our catalog here. And, don’t forget to place holds on all your favorite videogames, including Red Dead Redemption II for Playstation 4 and Xbox One
Until next time, happy trails. ~Carol