Friday, March 22, 2002

Greatest Characters List

100 Greatest Characters in Literature Since 1900 [via NPR.org via Book magazine]

An intriguing idea for a list. Let's face it though, some things just don't list well. First glaring ommission that leaps to mind: Jim McPherson, The Gold Coast, Kim Stanley Robinson. Worst cheat: someone's getting slighted by listing Nick and Nora Charles together as one character, not that I argue with their inclusion. Clunkiest entry: Big Brother, 1984, George Orwell. (C'mon, I would've taken at least three from Animal Farm first -- Napoleon, Snowball, or Boxer!) Wrong Action Hero: James Bond. I love the Bond books and movies, Simon Templar (Leslie Charteris's "The Saint") was "greater" though. (And along those lines, I still get choked up thinking about Norman Kent in The Last Hero taking one for the team. He ought to at least get an honorable mention.) There's plenty of crime fiction and melodrama (Scarlett O'Hara?!) on the list, so why no sci-fi? Maybe Jim McPherson is too obscure but how not at least one of Valentine Michael Smith, Johnnie Rico, or Lazarus Long from the Heinlein canon? Want more highbrow sci-fi? How about Latro from Gene Wolfe's outstanding Soldier of the Mist. I'm only giving this a few minutes thought so I'm sure I'm going to kick myself for forgetting some more obvious choices. (Keith Talent!) Do we really need all those Philip Roth characters? I can't believe I'm the only person he doesn't impress.

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