What Remains of Edith Finch (2017)
Why can't we get it right the first time?
What Remains of Edith Finch
By Annapurna Interactive
Released on Microsoft Windows in 2017
What I remember is Jess hooking up her dying laptop to our 32-inch TV, a cheap, no-name model Christina and I bought seven years ago on Prime Day. My eyes aren’t great, and the TV sits far from the living room couch, just close enough for me to see. Whenever I go to literally anyone else’s house, I marvel at their 40-inch+ models, the height of luxury and decadence to my mind, despite the fact that TVs are relatively cheap nowadays. But I can’t justify getting something new when my salary sucks and what we have works fine enough. And anyway, I mostly consume media on my iPad or Switch Lite. There’s a kind of intimacy in holding the screen in my hands, like I’m peering into a hidden world all my own.
What I remember is immediately vibing with the premise: a young woman traversing an abandoned, almost impossible space, reliving ancestral tragedies in a sort of hallucinatory reverie. What I don’t remember is just how much the premise stuck with me, how much it influenced the fiction podcast I started during quarantine, about a near-middle-aged woman traversing an abandoned, almost impossible space as she relives memories of the anonymous departed.
What I remember is the narration appearing on-screen in a handwritten font, enhancing both accessibility and the diaristic conceit. I appreciate subtitles more as I get older, as the hearing in my right ear grows more indistinct. My mom, who just turned 75, wears hearing aids, and I sometimes worry how much further my ears will deteriorate, if there will ever be a time when I’ll look at my guitar collection with bittersweet longing, the joy of playing music stripped away by disability.
What I remember is the theme of inevitability, more so than biological determinism, propelling the story forward. That maybe through class and culture and generational trauma, we’re destined to suffer the same fate as our forebears. We may swear things will be different, that we’ll forge a different path. And yet. My parents split up and reconciled after thirteen years apart. Both my sister and I divorced and remarried. Everything worked out in the end–we’re all happier and more grounded. But why the fuck could none of us get it right the first time?
What I remember is, just a few months ago, seeing Edith Finch on sale on the Nintendo eStore and being so tempted to buy it on Switch, even though I rarely replay games, reread books, or rewatch movies. Maybe I just wanted the icon on my home screen to remind me of the several hours Jess and I played together, her at the controls, me suggesting where we go next, the two of us exploring a world of beauty and decay and heartbreak and loss. I like feeling a certain kind of wistful sadness or subtle angst, provided those feelings stem from art, not life. I need an occasional dose of miserable music. Yesterday while driving home from work, I wanted to listen to Virus Meadow by And Also the Trees. But the band’s earlier discography isn’t on Apple Music. A disappointed goth, I put on a podcast instead.