S.G. Browne

C is for Catcher, Cat’s, and City

There are a lot of “C” titles that didn’t make my list of favorite reads. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. Carrie by Stephen King. Choke by Chuck Palahniuk.

While I enjoyed all of them and more, I’m forcing myself to limit my choices to my top two or three, so it’s inevitable that some worthy reads won’t make the cut. But it’s not much of a list of favorites if I include everything, now is it?

So on to the winners:

First Place
Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
The fact that Mark David Chapman sat down to read this book after shooting John Lennon isn’t enough to keep it off the list, but I can’t think of this book without getting pissed off at Chapman, who apparently thought Lennon was a “phony.” Still, Salinger’s novel about teenage angst, identity, and alienation resonates nearly sixty years after its publication. Probably one of my favorite books of all time.

Tied For First
Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
The second Vonnegut novel to make an appearance here (and not the last), this is probably my favorite. Not only did he manage to skewer science, technology, and religion, but he created his own religion, the basic premise of which is that all religion, including Bokononism, is formed entirely of lies. Of course, if you believe these lies, you will at least have peace of mind. Nice, nice, very nice.

A Distant Third
City of Thieves, David Benioff
My most recent “C” novel that I’ve read, this one had great characters, a good story, and reminded me that the joy of reading is often the discovery of an author’s ability to craft words in such a way that makes you appreciate the beauty of the written word.

And the first Classic Literature Razzie goes to:
Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky
This was assigned for reading in my high school junior year Western Literature class. The crime was that the book was ever written. The punishment was that I had to read it.

Filed under: Movies and Books — Tags: , , , , — S.G. Browne @ 10:36 am

What I Read On My Winter Vacation

With a couple of airplane flights and several hours waiting in the airport and time spent relaxing in a hammock beneath palm trees or on the beach or at the hotel pool, I had plenty of time to read over the past couple of weeks. Of course, I also spent some of that time doing nothing but existing in a Zen like tranquility, but I did manage to get through most of three books, all of them markedly different. Although I’m still working on Book #3, I thought I’d share what I’ve read and a few thoughts.

Pressure by Jeff Strand

I picked up this book last June at the HWA Stoker Award’s weekend in Los Angeles during a mass book signing, having met Jeff previously at the World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City. Admittedly, I was dubious about whether or not I would enjoy it, as it wasn’t what I was in the mood for, but I soon found myself caught up in the tension and frustration of a prep school friendship that turns terrifyingly bad and haunts the main character into college and beyond. Jeff manages to create an empathy for the main character and a growing frustration and terror at his helplessness as the story spans across several time frames. A good, pressure-packed thriller that doesn’t hold anything back.

The Little Sleep by Paul Tremblay

I wanted to read this novel because it was one of the other three nominees for this year’s HWA Bram Stoker Awards for Best First Novel. I was further intrigued when I came across his second novel, No Sleep Till Wonderland, and read the back cover copy. It’s a darkly comic detective novel in the spirit of Raymond Chandler about a narcoleptic detective who struggles with sleep, hallucinations, and his relationship with his landlord mother. Although I wasn’t as emotionally invested in the main character as I would like to have been, I found the writing style and the humor engaging and entertaining. I had a hard time putting it down and looked forward to picking it back up.

City of Thieves by Paul Benioff

This novel by the author of The 25th Hour (I saw the film starring Edward Norton but never read the book) was recommended to me by Bill, one of the staff at my local Books Inc. I intend on going back to the store and thanking Bill for the recommendation, as this was one of my favorite reads of the past year. I finished it on the flight back to San Francisco and couldn’t put it down. It’s one of those books that makes you appreciate the joy of the written word and how much of a pleasure it is when you come across an author who can string together words to create a memorable, affecting story.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This is just my opinion, so if you pick up one of these books and don’t enjoy it, don’t blame me. But if you do pick up one of these, let me know what you think.

Until next time…