Tom Bissell Biography
Tom Bissell Age
Tom Bissell was born on January 9, 1974, in Escanaba, Michigan, United States. He is 45 years old as of 2019.
Tom Bissell Net worth
Tom Bissell earns his income from his work as a journalist, critic, and fiction writer. He also earns his income from his businesses and other related organizations. He also earns his income from the Awards industry. He has an estimated net worth of $ 2 million dollars,
Tom Bissell Education
Tom Bissell studied English at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. He worked as a book editor in New York City and edited, among other books, The Collected Stories of Richard Yates and Paula Fox’s memoir Borrowed Finery.
Tom Bissell Family
Tom Bissell was born in Escanaba, Michigan, the United States to a military father, his father served in the Marines during the Vietnam War, alongside with author and journalist Philip Caputo.
Tom Bissell Journalist, critic, and fiction writer
Tom Bissell has written for Harper’s Magazine, Slate, The New Republic, and The Virginia Quarterly Review, where he has a contributing editor. While much of Bissell’s magazine writing could be considered travel writing, his articles are more concerned with politics, history, and autobiography than tourism. As a journalist, he traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan during wartime.
His book in collaboration with Jeff Alexander, “Speak, Commentary”, is a collection of fake DVD commentaries for popular films by political figures and pundits such as Noam Chomsky, Dinesh D’Souza and Ann Coulter. His other books have earned him several prizes, including the Rome Prize, the Anna Akhmatova Prize, and the Best Travel Writing Award from Peace Corps Writers.
His journalism work has been anthologized in The Best American Travel Writing, and The Best American Science Writing. While much of Bissell’s writing is concerned with issues of international relations and literary criticism, he frequently references Star Wars, J.R.R. Tolkien, and video games as well. Bissell’s literary work has been recognized and highlighted at Michigan State University in their Michigan Writers Series.
The video game Gears of War 2, the first version of which Bissell wrote about for The New Yorker, contains a character named Hank Bissell, an apparent nod to him. In a March 2010 Observer article, he wrote about the appeal of games like Grand Theft Auto IV and his own simultaneous struggles with an addiction to video games and cocaine.
He wrote about the cult film The Room in a 2010 article (“Cinema Crudité”) published in Harper’s Magazine. In May 2011, he signed on to co-write (with actor Greg Sestero) a closer look at the film – the resultant book, The Disaster Artist, was published by Simon and Schuster in October 2013. Bissell’s story “Expensive Trips Nowhere” was filmed as The Loneliest Planet (2011).
Tom Bissell Approach
While Bissell has been critical of neo-conservatism, the Bush administration, and American unilateralism, his politics often do not fit within established categories of American liberalism and conservatism. Much of his work is concerned with the legacy of the Soviet Union and Communism. He cited Philip Caputo as a major influence, along with Michigan writers Jim Harrison and Thomas McGuane.
Tom Bissell Fiction
In 2005, Tom Bissell published a Pantheon collection of Bissell’s short fiction, God Lives in St. Petersburg: and Other Stories. In the same year, his story Death Defier was published in the Best American Short Stories. His story “Aral” inspired Werner Herzog’s 2016 film Salt and Fire.
Tom Bissell Awards
- 2010 Guggenheim Fellow
- Rome Prize
- Writers Guild of America Award
Tom Bissell Books
- Chasing the Sea: Lost Among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia (2003) ISBN 978-0-375-42130-3
- Speak, Commentary: The Big Little Book of Fake Dvd Commentaries (2003) (with Jeff Alexander) ISBN 978-1-932416-07-7
- God Lives in St. Petersburg: and Other Stories (2005) ISBN 978-0-375-42264-5
- The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam (2007) ISBN 978-0-375-42265-2
- Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter (2010), ISBN 978-0-307-37870-5
- Magic Hours: Essays On Creators and Creation (2012), ISBN 978-1-936365-76-0
- The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made (2013, with Greg Sestero), ISBN 1451661193
- Apostle: Travels Among the Tombs of the Twelve (2016) ISBN 978-0-375-424663
- Everything About Everything: Infinite Jest, Twenty Years Later (2016) ISBN 978-0-316-30605-8
Tom Bissell Religion
Tom Bissell was born and raised a Roman Catholic but lost his faith as a teenager and now considers himself a non-believer. His journeys to visit the tombs and shrines associated with the Apostles reveals both his early religious training and his present skepticism.
Tom Bissell New York times
Nietzsche believed that if only a Dostoyevsky had been among the apostles who followed Jesus, someone who understood the environment in which “the scum of society, nervous maladies, and ‘childish’ idiocy keep a tryst,” we might have been spared centuries of ovine idiocy. One genius could have given us a work of ennobling art. Instead, we got 12 bleating sheep and one filthy religion.
Nietzsche is hardly alone in his contempt for the disciples. Many a preacher, whether for castigation or consolation, has pointed out their all-too-human foibles. There’s is Thomas and his infamous doubt, Peter’s craven denials as Jesus is being tried and crucified. There are all the parables the disciples are too boneheaded to understand, kiddie squabbles about who is going to get the best seat in heaven.
Even at Jesus’ most agonizing moment in the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples, like exhausted teenagers, fall sound asleep. It almost seems as if the Gospel writers wanted to emphasize these inadequacies, wanted to root an entire religion in the very human weakness that so appalled Nietzsche. Given the mediocrity of those to whom Jesus’ message was entrusted, it seems surpassing strange that the message should have taken hold with such force.
Somehow those hapless men rose out of their stupor to become paragons of Christian virtues. Somehow that general obtuseness and vague malaise became a wildfire of faith so fierce that some were willing to go to their death for the sake of what they’d seen. Or at least that’s one story. Tom Bissell, in his new book, “Apostle,” is out to tell another. “History does not record a single member of the Twelve, with the possible exception of Peter, as having had any particular impact on early Christianity.”
This is overstated — the Gospel of John claims to rely on eyewitness testimony, and scholars are still debating this — but the larger argument is really Bissell’s point. From the standards of modern history, we know very little about the disciples, sometimes only their names, and even those are often in dispute. Their lives are mostly legends, scattered around the world like their bones.
It is these legends (and these bones) that Bissell, an intelligent and lively writer probably best known for “The Disaster Artist,” sets out to investigate. Over the course of four years, he travels to nine countries and more than 50 churches. Along the way, often while standing in front of relics whose provenance he has just decimated, he meets priests, pilgrims, students, and others.
Aside from substantial digressions for Jesus and Paul, each chapter is devoted to one or two apostles, and divided between passages of history and journalism. At one moment you might learn that many of the Christians in Syria and India trace their origins to Thomas, or that crucifixion began “as a way to humiliate the already dead,” or that in one of the apocryphal Gospels, Peter resurrects a smoked fish.
Turn a page and Bissell is in his favorite falafel restaurant in Jerusalem, or talking geopolitics with his guides in Kyrgyzstan, or giving yet another update on the state of his beleaguered bowels. Even for a writer as protean as Bissell — I would especially recommend his 2012 essay collection, “Magic Hours”.“The apostle” is a quixotic project. An altar boy when he was growing up in Michigan, Bissell lost his faith when he was 16 and has never recovered it.
Nevertheless, he says in his preface, he has continued to find Christianity “deeply and resonantly interesting” and feels that anyone who disagrees “has only his or her unfamiliarity with the topic to blame.” He wrote this book, he says, to put that belief to the test. This is an ominously anodyne language for such an ambitious project, and “Apostle” seems fundamentally confused about its aim and audience.
Readers familiar with the material will be frustrated by the unfocused scholarship, not to mention the jagged contrasts in tone. And many an amateur is going to plow into a sentence like this “Traditionalists such as the Maccabees overthrew the Seleucid modernizers seeking to bring Judaism into a place of accommodation with Hellenism .” and reach for the remote. A steady, low-grade, dyspeptic irony keeps Bissell at the surface of his subject.
At times this takes the form of evoking complicated theological arguments he doesn’t engage. (“Why was Judas’s soul the price of God’s vacation into mortality?”) At others, he keeps a descriptive distance from human interactions that might challenge or change him. In St. Sernin’s Basilica in Toulouse, France, for example, Bissell finds himself momentarily alone in the reliquary when two young Americans come down. “Two young Americans always come down,” he says irritably, paving the way for the tiny annihilation that follows.
The man’s hair is “so gleaming and brown it seemed like an accessory picked to match his outfit,” and his sandals show off “the seashell perfection of his toenails.” Together he and his wife look like “Mr. and Mrs. Leisure Traveler on their way to a travel magazine cover shoot.” In this instance, Bissell is surprised. The woman discusses the Letter of Jude. She even knows that Paul is called “an Apostle Not of the Twelve. Like Mark and Luke and Barnabas.”
This leads Bissell to conclude: “A person visiting a Christian church who knew something about Christianity. It had taken me four years, but I finally found her.” This sentence occurs late in the book — after beers with the earnest young evangelical Glenn in Rome, after a conversation with a grief-stricken mother and son in Turkey, after countless exchanges with ordinary Christians around the world.
The apparent compliment releases an unpleasant current of retroactive contempt. Then there’s this: Is being able to recite obscure historical information really what it means to know something about Christianity? Bissell’s brief, beautiful last chapter gives some idea of what this book might have been. “What Christianity promises, I do not understand,” he begins.
“What its god could possibly want, I have never been able to imagine.” This sandblasting candor comes as a relief. Bissell has just completed the 500-mile pilgrim walk known as the Camino de Santiago and discovered that he feels . . . not much, really. One hears so many rhapsodic accounts of this walk that Bissell’s wry impiety is refreshing and promising.