Bibliophiliac posted an interesting meme the other day which I think I'll borrow, seeing as it's Friday and I have little thought for anything other than getting through the pile of work on my desk, and then falling headfirst into home repair projects this weekend - none of which seem very interesting. Without further ado:
Award Presentation for Ten Characters From Literature I Love Or Love To Hate (In Random Order):
1. Best Change Of Character By A (Um..) Character: Jean Valjean, Les Miserables, Victor Hugo. Since I've always imagined him to look like Louis Jordan, I've been smitten with him from the very beginning. But, he is also such a redemptive and ultimately unselfish character how could I not love him?
2. Best Character In A Bit Part: Monseigneur Charles Francois Myriel, the bishop of Digne, Les Miserables. Considering the heft of the book he is a minor character and yet a pivotal one. Without one particular act of human compassion by this priest there would be no story, no Monsieur Madeleine, no factory in the town of Montreuil, and no home for the orphaned Cozette, no stage upon which Jean Valjean can play out his selfless love. He certainly made the most of his limited page space.
3. Most Single-Minded And Relentless Villain Who In The End Is More Pitied Than Despised: Officer Javert, Les Miserables. Since Les Miserables is my favorite book out of all I've ever read, this post must necessarily be top-heavy with it. Poor inflexible Javert. He is so wedded to his belief in the law he does not fathom that laws can be unjust. This inability to reconcile justice with mercy is his undoing and in the end, there is nothing for the reader to do but pity him. He also brings much of the suspense to this party.
4. Most Unsinkable Heroine: Scarlett O'Hara, Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell. Yes she's willful. Yes she's spiteful. Yes she's a little selfish. But we love her nevertheless. Perhaps it's her buoyancy. We're left with believing she will eventually have it her way. Her determination is a little reminiscent of the aforementioned Javert. We hope hers is a happier ending.
5. The Crazy For Love Award: Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy. What was she thinking? Abhorrence to fakery is one thing. Devotion to love is another. But wasn't there a saner alternative? I read Anna Karenina right after finishing Gone With The Wind. Both heroines were bright lights to which others were drawn. Both were haunted by love and desire gone awry. But whereas one struggled (albeit selfishly) to survive intact, the other simply crumpled. These two would never have been friends. Scarlett would probably have described Anna as "mealy mouthed." If I was asked who I'd rather have a drink with it would most certainly be Scarlett. But I loved both books.
6. Best Friend Award: Winnie The Pooh, A.A. Milne. I can't even find the words, so I'll simply quote: "Some people care too much. I think it's called love." "Wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing."
7. Father Of The Century Award: Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee. It isn't always easy to do the right thing. But there are times when one person, standing for something good and true, is stronger than an entire crowd in opposition. (Also bestowed Lawyer Of The Century Award.)
8. Best Lead In Tragedy Of Lost Dreams: Nick Romano, Knock On Any Door, Willard Motley. A large and gritty book, I can't think of a character I've more wanted to save than Nick. It is the story of a young Italian-American (although the author Willard Motley was African-American) growing up in Chicago's Skid Row...an altar boy with hopes of one day becoming a priest. How different his life played out. It is quite simply a crushing masterpiece. First published in the 1940s, I'm not sure if it is still in print. If you can find it do not let it slip through your fingers. It is just one of those books that will still be with you years...decades...hence.
9. Best By-The-Book Detective: Sam Spade, The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett. I love Sherlock Holmes. I love Hercule Poirot. I love Miss Marple. But Sam...Sam is a bad boy. Sam is a tough guy. Sam was fooling around with his business partner's wife. Sam doesn't like his partner, Miles Archer. But when your partner gets killed "you gotta do something about it." And when you fall for a murderess, well, you gotta do something about that too. 'Cause no matter what...you ain't gonna take the fall for nobody. "All we've got is maybe you love me and maybe I love you. Maybe I do. I'll have some rotten nights after I've sent you over, but that'll pass." By the book, Sam, all the way. After finishing The Maltese Falcon I talked like a gangster for an entire week.
10. Best Coming Of Age Award: Huw Morgan, How Green Was My Valley, Richard Llewellen. Huw's voice is perfectly pitched as he recounts the elegance, beauty, drama, tragedy, desire and majesty of simple lives in a Welsh coal mining town. It is one of the most beautiful novels I've ever read, and even brushing by it in thought makes me feel as though I will cry.
I am certain that once I hit the "send" button, all the other characters I know and love, and know and hate, and know and love to hate will be jamming the lines demanding to know why they were excluded. So let me just say to them here and now, before they get rowdy and belligerent, before they attempt keep me up all night, this was not an exhaustive list. There will be other lists, other opportunities to shine. After all, what's that line, Scarlett? "Tomorrow is another day."