S.G. Browne

L is for Lord, Lamb, and Lullaby

After struggling to find books for the last two letters of the alphabet, I have a glut of novels I’ve read for the letter L, including The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien), Less Than Zero (Ellis), The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Lewis), The Lost World (Crichton), The Lottery (Jackson), and The Little Sleep (Tremblay).

While the first two selections were never in doubt, I found myself having to make a tough call for the final spot. In the end, what it came down to was what I would pick up right now to read again, so I ended up leaving Lolita (Nabokov) and Life of Pi (Martel) on the outside looking in.

Lord of the FliesNumero Uno:
Lord of the Flies, William Golding
If I had to name one book to take with me on a desert island, it would be, ironically, this one. The allegorical themes of human nature and loss of innocence aside, the story, characters, and writing are unforgettable. SPOILER ALERT: If by some bizarre reason you haven’t read this book, I’m going to ruin it for you right now, so you might want to stop reading. I can still see the pig’s head on a stick surrounded by flies, Piggy getting killed by the boulder, and Simon’s body floating out to sea – which is one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve ever read. My favorite book of all time. I’ve got the conch!

Second in command:
Lullaby, Chuck Palahniuk
Had I not read this novel in October of 2002 while on a plane to Paris, I don’t know if I would have ever written Breathers. While I’d written short stories that were dark comedy, I’d never considered turning one of them into a full-length novel prior to reading Lullaby, which spoke to me in a way I’d never been spoken to before. Smart, dark, and at times laugh-out-loud funny, this is my favorite Palahniuk novel and one of the most influential books I’ve ever read.

Last but not least:
Lamb, Christopher Moore
If Lullaby is my favorite Palahniuk novel, this is my favorite by Moore. Subtitled as The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, it recounts the lost years of Jesus through the eyes of “Levi bar Alphaeus who is called Biff.” I found myself laughing, enthralled, educated, appalled, and thoroughly entertained all at the same time. You’ll never look at Christianity the same way again.

Book that made me eat more vegetables:
Lost Souls, Poppy Z. Brite
In 2000, while training for a sprint triathlon, I cut back on my consumption of meat because eating it weighed me down and seemed counterproductive to my training. After the triathlon, while reading Lost Souls, which contains scenes of vampires drinking wine bottles of blood, I cut into a medium rare steak, took one bite, and realized I had no desire to eat meat any more. (Though, to be honest, I will eat a double chili cheese burger from Tommy’s when I’m in Los Angeles. And bacon smells good.)

Filed under: Movies and Books — Tags: , , — S.G. Browne @ 5:43 am

K is for Kockroach and Keep

Apparently, I’ve stumbled into a bit of a literary desert here, as I’m struggling to find titles of books I’ve read that begin with the letters J and K. At least with my previous entry I was able to come up with three titles, but I’ve searched my bookshelves and online databases and my gradually deteriorating memory and could only come up with two books I’ve read that begin with the letter K. (And To Kill a Mockingbird falls under T, so I can’t include it here.)

However, both of the titles below are worthy of making the list. There are no charity cases here. Though this one was too close to call.

Wins by a nose:
Kockroach, Tyler Knox
Even if you’ve never read Kafka’s Metamorphosis, you’ll get a kick out of this tale about a cockroach who wakes up one morning in 1950s era New York to discover that he’s become human. Narrated in alternating chapters from the POVs of the three main characters, Kockroach is a dark, humorous, literary noir that puts a whole new twist on the search for the American dream.

A close second:
The Keep, F. Paul Wilson
This is another one of the novels that influenced me in the early stages of my desire to become a writer. Set in a Nazi occupied castle in 1941 Romania, the book is packed full of chills and mystery and folklore. One of my favorite horror novels of all time. Unfortunately, it’s tough to find a copy at retail price anymore but if you can get your hands on one and you enjoy a good horror novel, you won’t be disappointed.

Filed under: Movies and Books — Tags: , , , — S.G. Browne @ 9:12 am

You Go To The Crypticon Convention…

You fly up to Everett, WA, for Crypticon, a three-year-old horror convention, where you do a signing at Borders with F. Paul Wilson, John Skipp, Cody Goodfellow, and Nick Mamatas. No one comes to the signing. Well, almost no one. But you get to hang out with these other writers and have dinner with them at the Hunan Palace across from the Holiday Inn where you’re staying, so it’s okay. You don’t really want to sell any books, anyway.

You spend Friday hanging out with Tim Long and Jonathan Moon from Library of the Living Dead, getting pizza with John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow and Nick Mamatas in beautiful downtown Everett right across from Aladdin Bail Bonds, attending a couple of panels, and having drinks with F. Paul Wilson and talking about all of the annoying writers who pump out 2500 words a day on a regular basis. You’re joined at your table for drinks by Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, and Brooke Bundy from the Nightmare on Elm Street series. You give them Zombies Are People Too buttons, which is pretty cool.

You wake up Saturday at 6:30am to some ass slamming the hotel room door next to you and then turn on the TV to ESPN and watch some guy from The Netherlands soccer team flop like a little girl and writhe on the ground after getting accidentally slapped in the face. This is why you hate soccer and the World Cup. It’s filled with crybabies like this guy. You can’t wait for football season to start.

You spend the rest of Saturday hanging out with Kelly Young and Jenna Pittman (who helped to get you invited to Crypticon as a guest, thank you very much), having a great conversation with a couple who dressed up as Andy and Rita from Breathers at your book signing last year in Seattle, hanging out with Mark Henry, sharing a standing-room- only panel with him and several other zombie “experts,” moderating a panel with F. Paul Wilson, John Skipp, and William F. Nolan, hanging out with Jeff Burk, Cameron C. Pierce, and Rose O’Keefe of Eraserhead Press, and attending a Bizarro performance of Help! A Bear Is Eating Me! by Mykle Hansen. (The bear is played by Cameron C. Pierce).

You finish off Saturday by doing a reading of the first three chapters of Fated, followed by a reading of “Zombie Gigolo” (which will appear in The Living Dead 2 this September), followed by the questionable decision to sing “Fly Me to the Moon” at karaoke at the Hunan Palace, which reminds you why you’re not a professional singer. You also drink one too many greyhounds.

You wake up Sunday and turn on the TV and realize you forgot to pack your Advil. On ESPN, New Zealand ties Italy 1-1 in the World Cup and according to the announcer, this apparently is one of the great moments in the history of the World Cup. A tie. This is another reason why you can’t wait for football season to start.

You spend your Sunday hosting a couple of panels that have more panelists than audience members, the first one on Remaking Romero and the second on How To Survive a Horror Movie, but it’s fun anyway, especially when a dog starts chewing on a human arm, then you say your goodbyes to all of the wonderful people you met or who you had the pleasure of spending time with again before you catch a ride to SeaTac, which actually provides free WiFi, unlike SFO and LAX, which are capitalistic whores of airports.

You look forward to doing this all again next year.

Filed under: Conventions — Tags: , , — S.G. Browne @ 9:32 pm

J is for Joy, Jaws, and Jurassic

I think this is the first post where all three books were all made into films. And, unless my brain is more full of cobwebs than I realize, I believe I saw all three of these in the theater before I read the novels.

However, I will be honest and say that none of these three would make my Top 50 books of all time. Maybe not even the Top 100. I really should make that list. But since I’m doing this alphabetically, every letter gets to participate.

So with that enthusiastic build-up, here are my favorite novels that start with the letter J:

Number 1:
Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton
Whether you consider it a straight science fiction novel or a cautionary tale on biological tinkering, the novel is a lot of fun, especially to imagine that it could be possible. One of the aspects I enjoyed most about the book as opposed to the film was that the Velociraptors, not the T-Rex, were the star dinosaurs. The whole storyline about them breeding and getting off the island by boat was left out of the movie.

Number 2:
Jaws, Peter Benchley
I saw the film when I was nine years old and that was pretty much it for me ever taking up surfing. While it’s tough to beat Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss, I still enjoyed the book, which I read just a few years after seeing the movie. But I can’t help but think the film had some impact on the book ending up on this list.

Number 3:
The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
Again, a book I’d read after the film, the book was written in vignettes from the different POVs of four immigrant Chinese mothers and their daughters who live in San Francisco. I don’t really have anything else to say, other than the fact that I liked it. How’s that for a ringing endorsement?

Favorite Short Story Collection:
Just After Sunset, Stephen King
Not my favorite of all time, but I didn’t have another J book to slot into the wild card spot. So I went with this one. Not King’s best collection (that nod goes to Skeleton Crew), but enough to renew my appreciation in his short stories. Plus he’s got a way with words that I can’t help but appreciate. He’s just a good storyteller.

Filed under: Movies and Books — Tags: , , — S.G. Browne @ 5:54 pm

Zombie Haiku Showdown Contest

Breathers_SGBI’ll be having an interview coming up on a website called The Authors Speak, which has some great interviews with authors such as Mary Roach, Christopher Moore, and Douglas Clegg, among others.

In preparation for the interview, The Authors Speak is hosting a Zombie Haiku Contest, where you can win a signed copy of Breathers and some Zombies Are People Too swag.

For those who are unfamiliar with haiku, or what it has to do with Breathers, haiku is a form of Japanese poetry that consists of 17 syllables or, apparently, moras, which are units of sound that determine syllable weight. And I’m getting this off of Wikipedia, so don’t yell at me if I’m wrong. Yell at somebody else.

Why is this relevant to zombies? In Breathers, Andy writes haiku that are zombie related, such as this one:

shattered life dangles
a severed voice screams in grief
I’m rotting inside

He also wrote several other haiku that didn’t make it into the final version:

Pine-Sol bubble baths
mask the stench of rotting flesh
I smell like Christmas

Of course, your haiku doesn’t have to be about sentient zombies. It can be from the stereotypical viewpoint with zombies as relentless, flesh eating monsters:

eaten by zombies
last thought is wondering if
I taste like chicken

Or take another perspective. Have fun with it. Just follow the directions on the web site and good luck!

Filed under: Haikus,Zombies — Tags: , , — S.G. Browne @ 11:04 am