Thursday, January 31, 2008
Booking Through Thursday: Quirky
This week’s question is suggested by (blogless) JMutford:
Sometimes I find eccentric characters quirky and fun, other times I find them too unbelievable and annoying. What are some of the more outrageous characters you’ve read, and how do you feel about them?
Some might call me eccentric. I am, after all, the book lady. I am the queen of non sequiturs, and I like to eat my individual pizza with a fork, starting in the middle of the circle and work my way outward. Eccentric characters are often quirky, sometimes funny, and almost always interesting. Whether a background character or the main character, the eccentric character is often hard to forget.
This past year I came across several eccentric characters who particularly caught my attention. There was the wealthy Margaret Hughes from Stephanie Kallos' Broken For You. In the beginning of the novel, she is living alone in a mansion, surrounded by her collection of valuable antiques. She decides to open her door to a complete stranger, which in turn leads to her taking in a full house of interesting characters.
A book that is full of eccentricities of just about every kind is Joseph Heller's Catch-22 . I do not think one character escapes the label in Heller's novel. The lead character, Yossarian, will do anything to avoid fighting and believes that everyone is out to kill him. My favorite character in the novel, however, is Orr, stuffing apples into his cheeks and always crash landing into the sea.
Then there is Roger Mifflin, reader and bookseller extraordinaire, whose relentless passion for books makes him unforgettable in The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley. And what about Grandma Mazur of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum fame? Her penchant for peering into the coffins of the dead, even at closed coffin funeral services, lands her in trouble constantly.
Each of these characters caused me to shake my head in wonder, laugh out loud on occasion, and make room for them in my heart. In some ways, I could relate to them, whether through their eccentricities or their experiences. Rarely do I find an eccentric character annoying, unless that character is ill-fitted for the story being told. Nor do I always especially like every eccentric character I come across. An eccentric villain will most likely not make my best friends in literature list. And yet, I am able to appreciate the eccentricities and the quirks of such characters more often than not. They are an integral part of the story they inhabit, and the book would not be the same without them.
Going along with the theme of eccentricities, Heather of A Creative Journal tagged me for the 7 Oddball Things About Me Meme and I thought this would be the perfect time to play along.
1. I tend to keep my emotions close to my vest. Most people cannot read how I am feeling in any given situation just by looking at me. Just the same, I tear up easily when it comes to movies, books, songs, and TV.
2. I dream frequently and vividly.
3. I am a pessimist just as often as I am an optimist. Most often I like to think I am a realist.
4. I prefer directions be written down word for word rather than be given a map when traveling somewhere to which I am unfamiliar.
5. I am afraid of getting lost, and so I sometimes like to visit an unfamiliar place before I actually have to be there just to be sure I know where I am going.
6. I have been a dog person longer than I have considered myself both a cat and dog person.
7. I am allergic to cats, but I don't care.
Care to share something a little eccentric about yourself? If so, consider yourself tagged!