S.G. Browne

O is for One, Of, and Odyssey

O. I like the letter O.

The whole circular nature of things. Every end a new beginning. That sort of nonsense. But when I first sat down to figure out my favorite books that start with the letter O, I could only think of my top three, plus a couple I never read. Then I actually started focusing (which means I cheated and searched for titles on the Internet) and realized I’d read a lot more for this entry than I’d thought.

Some of the titles that didn’t make the list include Oliver Twist (Dickens), Odd Thomas (Koontz), Out of Sight (Leonard), The Outsiders (Hinton), and The Old Man and the Sea. Which should come as no surprise, considering my lack of enthusiasm for Hemingway. And since he’s already made my Classic Literature Razzies list once for A Farewell to Arms, I figured I’d let him slide this time.

Some of titles I’ve never read include On the Road (Kerouac) and One Hundred Years of Solitude (Márquez). I keep thinking I should eventually get around to them, but I’d rather watch Arrested Development on Netflix.

The Big O:
The Odyssey, Homer
I love Greek mythology and this epic poem has it all. Cyclops, Syclla, Charybdis, Sirens, a witch-goddess, sacred cows, a bunch of horny Suitors, a determined hero, death, adventure, treachery, love, betrayal, and a bunch of meddling, bickering gods screwing around with everyone’s fates while enjoying the perks of their Mount Olympus HOA.

Two for the Money:
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey
I will admit that the film version has filtered its way into my memories (since I read Cuckoo’s Nest in high school), but the book is populated with memorable characters, including the rebellious McMurphy, the controlling Nurse Ratched, and the silent Chief, through whose eyes we experience the book’s narrative. While the film version is a fairly solid adaptation and Nicholson steals the show, the novel is worth the read.

Three’s Company:
Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
While technically a novella written as a play, this is the second of Steinbeck’s Dustbowl trilogy (sandwiched between In Dubious Battle and The Grapes of Wrath). Having never read Cannery Row or East of Eden, I admittedly have a smaller pool to choose from, but this is my favorite Steinbeck novel. Painful and tender and tragic, the themes of loneliness resonate more than 70 years after the book’s publication. (Odd Trivia – Apparently, an early draft of the novel was eaten by his dog.)

Favorite Guilty Pleasure:
The Other Side of Midnight, Sidney Sheldon
Not my favorite guilty pleasure of all time (that still goes to Waterworld), but I read several Sidney Sheldon novels in high school (including Bloodline and If Tomorrow Comes), and this was my favorite of the three.

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Filed under: Movies and Books — Tags: , , , — S.G. Browne @ 8:44 pm

3 Comments »

  1. I did read Cannery Row and loved it ( nice mix of humor and drama in it). The only other Steinbeck I’ve read is The Pearl back in High School or Junior High, which I no longer remember at all, and The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights, because I was a nerd for Arthurian things.

    Actually, Steinbeck’s King Arthur is pretty good once he starts departing from Mallory and making it HIS King Arthur.

    I’ve been meaning to read Tortilla Flat, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

    Comment by Thom Marrion — August 9, 2010 @ 10:53 am

  2. Ah yes, the O!

    Truly, you’ve got to give Márquez a try, whether it’s with One Hundred Years of Solitude or Love in the Time of Cholera (my personal favorite). His writing is just so rich. :)

    On the Road is worth a look-see too, if you ever have a lazy few weeks … HA! Good luck with that.

    Of your picks, I love Kesey’s most! Steinbeck — sigh — love his writing, but most of the stories are so heartrending …

    I’ll be so sad when the alphabet is over. O_O

    Comment by Zu — August 10, 2010 @ 11:58 am

  3. Thanks for the comments Thom and Zu. And yes, I agree on Steinbeck. He didn’t exactly pen uplifting stories.

    Comment by admin — August 10, 2010 @ 3:35 pm

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