S.G. Browne

Fiction for the Holidays

I know that gift cards have become the easy thing to, well, gift to friends and loved ones for the holidays. And I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve received some clunker gifts without the option of exchanging for something I’d rather have. But everyone likes to read. And if they don’t, they should get in the habit. There’s nothing like a good story to take you someplace new.

So with that in mind, I’ve listed a handful of options (minus the thumb) for better gift giving through fiction. Feel free to include some of your own suggestions. But just remember to include a gift receipt.

Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen
The tale of a ninety-three-year-old nursing home resident who reminisces about his time spent working in the circus to the point that he almost begins to lose track of what’s real and what’s not. The characters are delightful, the story intoxicating, and the prose inspired.

Lamb, Christopher Moore
The lost years of Jesus through the eyes of “Levi bar Alphaeus who is called Biff,” Christ’s childhood pal. 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.

Life of Pi, Yann Martel
Pi, son of a zookeeper whose family is emigrating to North America, finds himself the lone human survivor of a shipwreck in a lifeboat with a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and a 450-pound Bengal tiger. A funny and thoughtful adventure of a read.

In the Woods, Tana French
A cold-case double murder in the suburban woods of Dublin is revived twenty years later by another murder in the same woods. Narrated by a detective with a shadowy past connected to the double murder, this debut novel is part mystery, part psychological thriller, and nearly perfect.

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Filed under: Movies and Books — Tags: , , , — S.G. Browne @ 11:23 am

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.)

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