S.G. Browne

Literary Mash-Up!

It’s time to play Literary Mash-Up, the game where you take two existing books and mash them together to form a brand new literary masterpiece, such as: Ender’s Game of Thrones, The Goodnight Moon Also Rises, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Grapes of Wrath.

But coming up with the titles is just part of the fun. In order to give your literary Franken-creations a life of their own, try mashing up their synopses, as well.

Below I’ve listed five new Literary Mash-Ups and their appropriate (or inappropriate) back cover copy. I hope you enjoy these brand new fictional tomes.

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The Joy Luck Fight Club
In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting every weekend in the basements and parking lots of bars across the country to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and take off their shoes and shirts and fight each other barehanded. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they plan for violent revenge on an empty consumer-culture world.

The Perks of Being Lord of the Flies
A story about what it’s like to travel that strange course through the uncharted territory of primitive savagery and survival. The world of first dates, family drama, and hunting wild pigs. Of sex, drugs, and dropping a boulder on a fat kid. Of those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as high school. Standing on the fringes of the collapse of social order offers a unique perspective…but there comes a time to see what it looks like from inside the hunting party.

The Old Man and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
Told in language of great simplicity and power, this classic children’s book celebrates how much fun a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin can be. From the can-opening Zans to the boxing Gox to the old Cuban trawler who can’t make a dollar, the silly rhymes and colorful cast of characters create an entertaining approach to the theme of courage in the face of defeat that will have every child giggling.

To Kill a Mockingjay
It’s the mid-1930s during the Great Depression and against all odds, Scout Finch has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bread lines alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the civil unrest? None other than Tom Robinson, a young black man accused of raping a white woman.

Of Mice and World War Z
Laborers in California’s dusty vegetable fields, George and Lennie hustle work when they can, living a hand-to-mouth existence as they travel across the United States, clinging together in the face of loneliness, alienation, and the zombie apocalypse. For George and Lennie have a plan: to own an acre of land and a fortified zombie-proof shack they can call their own. When they land jobs at a refugee shelter in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dream seems within their grasp. But George cannot guard Lennie from the provocations of a flirtatious woman, nor predict the consequences of Lennie’s unswerving obedience to the zombie defense tactics George has taught him.

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Filed under: Fiction,Literary Mash-Ups,Movies and Books — S.G. Browne @ 7:38 am

The Desolation of Smaug: This is Not a Movie

A little background…

I never read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, so when I saw The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring on it’s release date on my birthday in 2001, I had no idea the film was the first in a trilogy.This was likely in part to the aforementioned fact that I hadn’t read the novel and in part to the four or five shots of tequila I’d had at Dave & Buster’s while celebrating my birthday beforehand.

None of my friends who joined me knew the film was the first in a trilogy, either. And apparently neither did half of the audience. Or else, like me, they hadn’t read the book, as a good portion of the movie theater patrons let out a collective post-midnight groan when Frodo and Sam set off on the path to Mordor and it became clear they weren’t going to get there before the end credits started rolling.

Anyone who is a Star Wars fan knows this feeling well from the second installment of that series (and arguably the best of the three), The Empire Strikes Back. That was my first experience watching a film where I was left hanging in disbelief.

Wait a minute? The music is rising. Everyone’s staring out through the window. This is the end? It can’t be the end. What about Han?!

Twenty years after that adolescent mind fuck, the initial installment of The Lord of the Rings got me again.

Fast-forward to last year, when I went to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Now, I hadn’t read The Hobbit, either, but I knew it was a single book, approximately 300 pages, so there was no reason to think this film was also going to be the first in a trilogy. But then it ends with Smaug’s eye opening beneath a pile of gold and I thought:

Son of a bitch! They did it to me again!

So when I went to see The Desolation of Smaug in IMAX 3D on opening day with a couple of friends, I knew to expect an unfinished story. What I didn’t expect was to find a story that wasn’t really a story at all.

Let me explain:

When you’re creating trilogies, be they films or novels, we as viewers and readers know there’s more to come. (Presuming, of course, that we realize they’re trilogies in the first place.) And while I was left wanting at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Empire Strikes Back,  at least those films resolved one crisis as another one loomed. Even The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey got our heroes out of one sticky situation before setting up the inevitable confrontation with the slumbering dragon. But in The Desolation of Smaug, there is no resolution of anything. The film just stops in the middle of the action. Literally stops. In the middle. Of the action. Cut to black. Roll end credits.

So technically, the film has no ending.

And back to my point about the story not being a story. In addition to not having an ending, this film doesn’t really have a beginning, either. After a short flashback to set up a few key plot elements, it just picks up where the other one left off. So with no real beginning and no real ending, it’s not really a story. It’s just an excerpt. Two-and-a-half hours of cinematic connective tissue.

But at least the cinematography is awesome.

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Filed under: Move Review Monday,Movies and Books — Tags: — S.G. Browne @ 9:11 am

10 Books That Matter To Me

Recently I was tagged on Facebook by a friend with the following:

“List 10 books that have stayed with you. Don’t think too hard about it – they just have to be books that touched you.”

She then went on to share her list of 10 books and tagged a handful of friends to see what their lists looked like. While I didn’t tag anyone, I did feel compelled to share the 10 books that came to mind without having to give them too much thought. But then I realized I wanted to share a brief explanation as to WHY the books mattered to me or how they touched me. So here we go:

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Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk
This is the novel that inspired me to write Breathers and sent me down the path of social satire and dark comedy. While several of Pahlaniuk’s early novels could also have made the list, this one stands out for it’s influence on the direction my writing took.

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
My favorite of Vonnegut’s novels, it has it all: science fiction, satire, a dwarf, an original Calypso religion, granfallons, pissants, and the end of the world. What’s not to like?

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Lyrical in its prose and poignant in its message about the power of words, this is the one book I recommend and gift to everyone. A Young Adult novel that should be classified as Literary Fiction.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
I’m a sucker for novels that make social commentary on capitalism and Patrick Bateman’s stream-of-consciousness narration just sucked me in. Along with Slaughterhouse-Five by Vonnegut, American Psycho was one of the inspirations for Big Egos.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
My stranded-on-a-desert-island book (which I coincidentally read as a sophomore in high school while living on an island) and the first book to really stick with me. I’ve got the conch!

The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub
While a number of books by King and Straub are among my favorite reads, this was the first time I ever got so caught up in the story unfolding within the pages that the world outside of the book ceased to exist. And I thought: I want to make people feel this way.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
Great opening. Great voice. Great character. Chandler has a way with words that are all his own. This novel set the bar for hard-boiled crime novels and was influential in the writing of my third novel, Lucky Bastard.

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
While every book on this list is unique in its own way, I’ve never read another novel that comes close to this one. Dunn’s story of a self-made carnival sideshow freak family is one-of-a-kind awesome.

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal
by Christopher Moore
My favorite of Moore’s novels, all of which are an inspiration to my own writing. Smart, funny, and addictive. If you haven’t read anything by Moore, you should start now. Preferably with this one. You’ll thank me later.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
This one surprised me a bit when it popped into my head, but only for a moment. One of my favorite stories of my childhood and of all time. I can still recite Max’s adventures word-for-word.

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That’s it. That’s my list. If you have your own favorite books that matter to you, feel free to share them in the comments. And as always, thanks for reading.

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