RTW: Novel Memories

RTW is Road Trip Wednesday, a weekly meme from YA Highway where one of the YA Highway team asks a question, and we all answer on our blogs then post a link to our answer in the YA Highway RTW article comments. It’s cool, it’s fun, and you can learn some interesting–and perhaps surprising–things about people…

This week’s Road Trip Wednesday question is: What book brings back a memory? There are so many books I could choose that evoke memories. I’ve already shared a book cover that evoked great memories, and as I scan the shelves, I see books that remind me of places, events, people, time periods. But to make things a little more interesting, I’ve chosen a book that, if you know me and my blog, you probably wouldn’t expect.

My choice is…THE OMEN by David Seltzer. What the…? I hear you say. But I thought you weren’t into horror, creepy stuff, etc. Okay, let me ‘splain. No, too long. I sum up. No really–let me explain. It all began a long time ago. I was in my first year at secondary school–the old Cathedral school I’ve mentioned a few times here. Our weekly 90 minutes of charging around a field with a rugby ball had been rained off, so the teacher herded us into the TV room–the one with the VCR (ooo! gasp!!)–and offered to put on a movie of our choice. Of the options given, the one chosen by this roomful of 11 and 12 year old boys was The Omen II. Our teacher warned us that it is a horror movie, so if anyone wanted to opt out and go do something else, they were free to leave. The room was filled with sound of scraping chairs and pre-teen boys heading for the door. NOT! Please. We were men, after all; we could handle it. And so we did. We sat through the boy trapped under the ice, the woman getting her eyes pecked out by ravens, and even the guy being sliced in half with an elevator cable. There are two things that captured my mind as a result of watching this movie. The first was a fascination with the Bible quotes used, and a desire to explore the Book of Revelation and become better acquainted with the Bible (yes–The Omen II played a part in my becoming a Christian). The second was the fact that I knew I was jumping into a story: I hadn’t seen The Omen, and I felt I was missing out on an important part of the whole story arc.

One lunch break some time later, possibly months later, I was in a used bookstore in town. I remember it vivdly. The store was an old building, about the size of the bookstore that Hugh Grant runs in the movie Notting Hill, but with a narrow staircase that led to an upstairs with loads of used paperbacks lining the walls. It was among these that I found the novel (or novelization of) THE OMEN. It wasn’t very expensive either–50p or less–so I bought it. What’s more, it fit snuggly into my left-hand outside blazer pocket, so I could carry it around and read it. And I did. At last, I found out about the seven daggers, the babies switched at birth, the evil nanny, the demonic dog, and the eerie photographs. Now I understood the circumstances surrounding Damien’s living arrangements. Why didn’t I rent the movie? We didn’t have a VCR at that time. In fact, it was years later until I saw the movie The Omen for the first time.

So, that’s the memory that simple cover evokes for me. The smell of the bookstore. The pleasure of discovery, filling in that backstory. Being twelve years old and being quite satisfied with a book as a replacement for a movie.

Okay, your turn. Is there a book that evokes a memory for you? You can share here in my comments, or blog about it and share the link in the YA Highway comments.

18 thoughts on “RTW: Novel Memories

  1. Caitlin Darrell

    WOW! I think the scariest thing we were ever allowed to watch in school was The Grinch. Our young, sensitive minds clearly couldn’t handle a green-skinned person. But at least you got something good out of such a terrifying movie…?

    And I must say, that’s so cool about The Omen II influencing you to become a Christian. Finally, Hollywood is good for something! πŸ™‚

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Yes… I look back now and I wonder how the teacher ever got away with that–I’m sure that wouldn’t happen today (I certainly can’t see it happening in a US school!).

      It is odd to think that The Omen II played a part in my coming to faith, but as someone once said, God often draws straight lines with crooked sticks. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  2. Jennifer Hoffine

    Yes, that is wild that you got to watch a horror movie in school.

    Though I did see my first rated R movie (Flashdance) at a High School Church Camp Retreat…we had a VCR by then (just barely), but my parents never rented rated R things.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Of course, it wasn’t part of the curriculum–it was just to keep us occupied because we couldn’t play rugby. I’m not sure that the headmaster would have approved if he’d known… but it’s not as if any of us were going to complain! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  3. Rebecca B

    I’m not sure I could watch or read The Omen–the character Damien really freaks me out.
    I love memories about how I acquired a book–it adds personal history to the experience of reading something. Makes me appreciate brick & mortar bookstores even more!

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Yeah, Damien is pretty unredeemably evil–and I think that’s the point. The kid that played him in the first movie was actually really good. You’d think for a cute five or six year old, he would look all sweet and innocent. But the way he stared into the camera… eek!

      Agreed about brick-and-mortar purchasing experiences. I could be wrong, but I can’t imagine one day reminiscing about the time I downloaded a book to my e-reader. “The excitement as the progress bar moved slowly from left to right, marking the movement of pixels from Amazon to iPad… my heart beating two to the second as it reached the end…” Nah… not quite the same. πŸ˜€

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    1. cds Post author

      Yeah, it is pretty incredible thinking back… but I think he figured we’d all seen it, or stuff like it, and if we didn’t think we should watch it, we would have objected. Of course, if he was thinking that latter thought, he was incredibly naive. Put 30 11 and 12-yr-old boys in a room and ask them if they want to watch a horror movie, of course they’ll say yes, even if only not to seem wimpy.

      Reply
  4. Kip

    Ooooh, scary. I am too chicken to read or watch horror books/movies, so bravo for sticking it out with the rest of the boys! Sure sounds like it was memorable …

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      I remember sitting in the room with everyone watching the movie (I can see that room vividly in my mind), but getting the book, carrying it around with me, and reading it when I got the chance is the more powerful memory. And I like that. πŸ™‚

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  5. EVe

    Wow I never watched the original or read the book. I watched the new version with some friends and was sadly let down, I was lead to believe it was to be horrifying and never sleep again kinda scary but I mostly just laughed, yes I laughed. Though I don’t remember the movie, what you described sounded much more interesting. On a side note I so wish I had cute little book stores around me like that.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      I watched The Omen again recently. It was made in 1976, so as you can imagine, what little “yukky” horror there is (i.e., a hanging, someone being impaled, and someone being decapitated) was actually not much worse than you’d see on CSI. What the 1976 movie did well, IMO, was the brooding terror. That sense of foreboding–knowing that bad things were going to happen.

      As for the bookstore, my home town had a couple like that. Stores like that are among the things I miss about England.

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  6. Sarah Nicolas

    I’m a big scaredy cat and have never seen/read The Omen!

    There is NO WAY any of my schools would have played that movie! My senior year we were still watching A Bug’s Life (for like the 8th time!)

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      It’s not generally my taste in movies or books either, Sarah. And like I said, this was by no means an official school-sanctioned thing. The teacher just wanted to put on a movie to pass the time. I’m sure other teachers would have selected something else. Maybe he was trying to come across as the “cool” teacher, given we were all first years–trying to influence our opinion of him from the get-go? If so, it didn’t really work. He wasn’t universally disliked, but he was never really anyone’s favorite teacher either. Ah well. πŸ™‚

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  7. Donelle Lacy

    I haven’t seen all of the first Omen and none of the second, but this makes me curious about it. I’m not big on ravens pecking eyes out, but the other elements are pretty fascinating. I’ve had a similar thing happen with me. When I saw Gormenghast as a mini-series on BBC I ended up getitng the big fat combined volume of the stories later to read. (I keep taking breaks from it, but it’s unlike anything I’ve read before.)

    I agree that it’s great that a movie inspired you to be a Christian. A horror movie, at that! Thanks for this story.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      The theology behind The Omen story arc is pretty weak, but the movie got me reading the Bible a little more closely. This played a part in my eventual conversion.

      As far as the movies go, I’d say the first was the best of the series. The special effects are what they are–mid-1970s effects. But the atmosphere, helped by the music, make for a creepy and spine-tingling experience. The second movie is not bad, but it suffers from being a sequel–same themes as the first, but with an older MC. The third is better, though again, the same themes, but we have a final showdown at the end. There was a fourth book, which may or may not have been made into a movie, but either way it’s a complete waste of time. The story ended at book 3. Really.

      Reply
  8. Tarah Dunn

    I love how the sequel lend you to read the original book. I love movie version of The Omen but I haven’t read the book. I think I’m now inspired to!

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      The book is a good novelization of the movie–when I eventually saw the movie, I recognized most of the scenes from having read them. It helps that the novelization is by the same guy that wrote the screenplay. It’s been a long time since I read it, but it’s very possible Seltzer actually put a little more into the book than you see on-screen.

      Reply

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