Thursday, March 06, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Hero

This week's BTT topic:
Who is your favorite Male lead character? And why?

Well, it would be impossible to choose just one. Of course, I'd have to list Mr. Darcy, Mr. Rochester, Heathcliff, and Rhett Butler right off the bat, wouldn't I? Although, when I read Gone With the Wind back in the Pleistocene Era, I was just as much in love with Ashley Wilkes as Scarlett was. They're dashing and romantic and brooding and handsome and virile and all those things a 13-year-old girl is looking for in a man. Come to think of it, I guess they're all those things a 60-year-old girl is looking for in a man, too.

Problem is, the men in most of the books I've read in my adult years haven't been all that admirable (think of the guys in novels by Doris Lessing, Iris Murdoch, Barbara Pym, or even Philip Roth). So it's a little hard to pick favorites.

As an enthusiastic mystery reader, I've always loved Sherlock Holmes, of course (except for that nasty cocaine habit). And P.D. James's poetry-writing detective Adam Dalgliesh is a great creation – intelligent, strong and reliable, but sensitive, too.

Larry McMurtry's wonderful ex-Texas Rangers Captain Augustus "Gus" McCrae and Captain Woodrow F. Call, who run the Hat Creek Cattle Company and Livery Emporium in Lonesome Dove appeal to my Texas roots. Their personalities are direct contrasts, but they live by the same frontier code. Romantic and brave. Capable and strong. But also gullible and not too bright. I like that in a man.

I guess my earliest literary "heroes" were Tom Sawyer, and then Huck Finn. I loved the books as a kid, and still do. Both boys had trouble with authority, and the hypocrisy and straight-laced morality of their time. They were early anti-heroes for the pre-teen set.

Addendum on Friday:

Just one more thought about this week's BTT topic. And that's it – I promise. But how could I forget Philip Marlowe? Probably my absolute favorite hard-boiled private eye. Raymond Chandler's famous sleuth is the main character and narrator of half a dozen or so novels, and has been portrayed on the screen by the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Dick Powell, Robert Mitchum, Elliott Gould, and James Garner. He has a lot of faults, but he's mostly honest and true-blue, and doesn't usually do violence to anyone who doesn't do violence to him first. Certainly as a male lead character, he's unforgettable – which is why I'm so annoyed that I forgot him.

Marlowe is constantly spouting wonderful quotes you remember long after you've finished the books, like these from Farewell, My Lovely:

The eighty-five cent dinner tasted like a discarded mail bag and was served to me by a waiter who looked as if he would slug me for a quarter, cut my throat for six bits, and bury me at sea in a barrel of concrete for a dollar and a half, plus sales tax.


"I'm afraid I don't like your manner," he said, using the edge of his voice.
"I've had complaints about it," I said, "But nothing seems to do any good."

Ah, Marlowe – what a guy!


  1. Dalgliesh is a wonderful choice. I hadn't thought about him, as detectives go definitely the pick of the bunch.

  2. I'm also a fan of Dalgliesh, for all the reasons you mention, though he can be a little dour sometimes. I've never read Gone with the Wind - shameful!

  3. I picked Rhett, too. But I never liked Ashley. I think because I read the book as an adult, Ashley never held any allure to me.

    Happy BTT! :D

  4. I just never thought about listing the male from childhood or way back...good thinking.

    I heard so much about Heathcliff, so I think I should read it. Other than that I think I would have prefer Rhett Butler over Ashley Wilkes ;)

    Happy BTTs and have a good Thursday!

  5. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn are great choices. I didn't think of Sherlock Holmes but he's a great character - brooding and complex and intelligent.

  6. Thanks, all, for the comments.

    Lesley - yes, you're right about Dalgliesh being a bit dour, but he can sometimes have a nice sense of humor, too.

    Trish - I think being from the South made me a little too infatuated with Ashley as the dashing Confederate soldier. But ultimately, he couldn't compete with Rhett.


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