S.G. Browne

B is for Beat, Black, and Breakfast

Not Beat as in the Beat Generation. I’ve never read any Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, or Jack Kerouac. I never had a Naked Lunch or went On the Road. I suppose at some point I should, just to see what all the fuss is about, but right now they’re not on my list of books to read.

When I look at my bookshelf and I try to recount some of the books I’ve read, some of the books that didn’t make the list for the letter B include Beowulf, Brave New World, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which I didn’t include because it was a novella and I’m trying to focus on novels. And while I know a lot of people love the film version with Audrey Hepburn, I can’t stand it. It’s popcorn while the novella by Capote is filet mignon.

Okay, enough stalling. On to my selections for the favorite books I’ve read that start with the letter B:

First Place
Beat the Reaper, Josh Bazell
A fun, imaginative read that bounces back and forth between the present day life and the hidden past of Peter Brown, mob hit man turned Manhattan intern. The writing is crisp and sharp and funny and the medical research done by Bazell, who wrote the novel while completing his internship, makes you never want to spend any time in a hospital. Clever and funny in all the right places. One of my favorite reads of 2009.

The Black Dahlia, James Ellroy
I picked up Ellroy’s first installment of his L.A. Quartet because I loved the film L.A. Confidential, which is the third of the four novels. I’ll also note here that I stopped caring about the Academy Awards when Titanic took home the 1997 Best Picture Oscar instead of L.A. Confidential. But as for the novel, I enjoyed Ellroy’s narrative and the way he wove in the real life murder of Elizabeth Short in 1947 Los Angeles. As in real life, the crime is never solved, but the story is about the relationship between those involved in the investigation and how it consumes their lives.

Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut
I’m planning to re-read this because it’s been so long since I enjoyed it, but it’s still one of my favorite Vonnegut novels. Although I like Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five better, this is classic Vonnegut, dark and satirical, skewering America and creating tragic characters in his own inimitable way.

Oh, and as a follow-up note to the last entry, A is for American (Psycho and Gods), somehow I managed to forget about Animal Farm by George Orwell. It should have been a definite runner-up. My apologies to Orwell for the oversight.

Filed under: Movies and Books — Tags: , , , , , — S.G. Browne @ 4:54 pm