Twenty-Six of the Greats: Character Hall of Fame

Here’s something whimsical let’s try. Anyone reading this blog is highly encouraged to take an active part — and you’re not limited to just one comment on this post. As long as you’re being halfway decent in allowing others a chance to get their two cents in, you can come back repeatedly. I’ll pop in myself on this one from time to time.

Here’s the deal: on this posting, let’s work through the alphabet, starting with A, ending with Z. For each letter, tell us about a fictional character you love whose name (first or last) begins with that letter. Briefly identify the character and the book, story, movie, or TV show the character is from, and the author if you know his/her name. (I know with TV shows, that can get tricky, since they’re written by teams of writers.) Okay, okay, we’ll allow graphic novels, too. Also, briefly tell us why the character deserves to be on this list.

Got the rules? Okay, I’ll start us off.

A is for Atticus Finch, the unforgettable lawyer and father in To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. There are tons of reasons to admire Atticus, but to follow my own rules, I’ll keep it short: he’s a model of good fathering — raising kids by the example of his own character, virtues, and behavior. He knows how to talk to his children and what things to teach them. He’s wise, patient, responsible, has his values straight . . . and he has the courage to stand up for what’s right, even when it’s an unpopular position. Here’s a man who uses his considerable gifts and education to benefit others. He’s a great judge of character, too. And humble — his kids never know he’s a sharpshooter until he needs to use that skill. Awesome scenes: when he sits outside the jailhouse at night and faces down the lynch mob . . . and how about at the end (or is this only in the movie version?), when he sits at the bedside of Jem, who has a broken arm? The kids know Atticus will be sitting there still when Jem wakes up in the morning. Beautiful! Gives one the shivers!

There’s A. Who’s got a B? Do I hear a B?

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55 Responses to “Twenty-Six of the Greats: Character Hall of Fame”

  1. Daylily Says:

    B is for Bartholomew Cubbins in _The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins_, by Dr. Seuss. I love this story. Even in the face of danger, Bartholomew remains calm and brave and even polite! The magic which has overtaken him threatens his life, but he does his best to deal with a bad situation, and he outlasts the magic. He is a model of perseverance.

  2. Lizzie_Borden Says:

    C is for Charles Halloway, father, philosopher, intellectual, and janitor of the Public Library in Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way comes. He spends his entire life immersed in books, dedicated to learning from the experiences of others, and just when he begins to doubt himself, and wonder if he’s wasted his years by hiding from life in his beloved books, he finds that he’s the only one smart enough and with enough hope left to save the entire population of Green Town, Illinois from.. *dramatic pause* The Autumn People *wiggles eyebrows* And personally, my favorite section of the book is Charles Halloway’s “3 am” speech. It’s a brilliant piece of writing.

  3. Tandemcat Says:

    I’m waiting for J!

  4. John Says:

    (I’m tempted to say Doctor Who, but since I don’t want to appear uncultured…)

    D is for Monsieur d’Artagnan in The Three Musketeers. D’Artagnan is the archetype of youthful masculinity, full of enthusiasm, passion and a penchant for getting in trouble. He excels in skill, honor, bravery and pride. Most people who are as full of themselves as d’Artagnan are quite annoying, but d’Artagnan has the charm to win you over to his side.

  5. fsdthreshold Says:

    John, if you’d said “Doctor Who,” you’d have been right in keeping with the mindset of the typical clientele of this blog and its originator! But yes, d’Artagnan is a great literary answer. Thanks!

    Thanks to ALL of you who have rung in so far–I’m loving your answers, and please keep them coming!

    I’m going to sneak in here with E.

    E is Elrond, my personal favorite character in _The Lord of the Rings_. I want to BE Elrond. He’s the perfect guy–once lieutenant of Gil-galad, he’s proven himself in battle through the ages of “The Long Defeat”–the gradual diminishing of the Elves under the onslaught of Sauron’s evil. Being half-Elven and given the choice, with his brother Elros, of whether to cast his lot with Men or Elves, Elrond chose his mother’s people, the Elves–and thus, immortality, with its benefits and its appalling gravity and responsibility.

    He’s a tragic figure. He married for love, but his wife Celebrian died of grief, if I’m not mistaken (correct me wherever I’m wrong, ye Tolkien experts, of which there are many reading this!).

    Elrond is a scholar and a healer, sheltering young Aragorn, preserving the waning light of wisdom as the darkness deepens in Middle-earth. Yet for all he’s been through and all he knows, he remains “as kind as summer.”

    Yay, Elrond! Go, Elrond!

  6. I jumped from the barn Says:

    My dearest Fred, Celebrian was captured and tortured by orcs while traveling back to Rivendell after visiting her mother, Galadriel, in Lothlorien. Healed by Elrond, she slowly lost her desire to remain in Middle Earth and sailed to Valinor. Her ordeal generated an intense hatred of orcs and all servants of evil in her sons, Elladan and Elrohir, who journeyed far and wide with the Dunedain and kicked ass.
    The sons of Elrond are cool characters I would have loved to have known and were just a few of the numerous smaller pieces Tolkien could not possibly have expounded upon, but it would have been great if he had! (Erkenbrand, Dain II, Thranduil, the Rangers and Glorfindel are examples of others I wish I could have known more about — and I mean more beyond what is already published).

    In keeping with the Tolkien theme, F could be any number of great characters. The temptation is to make F for Frodo, but as this is my choice I choose Faramir (yes, yes, Frodo deserves it, but Faramir — and Eomer — were two of my favorites as I read the books for the first time. Meriadoc was my favorite hobbit).

    Faramir is, in the book (not the disgustingly altered portrayal foisted upon us by co-writer Phillipa Boyens in the films) a genuinely heroic character. He is only slightly less royal than Aragorn in that the latter is of the true bloodline while Faramir is ‘only’ from a higher royal house.
    Given the chance to Fall he rises to the occasion. I paraphrase: “Not were to find it by the highway would I take it. Not were the only way to save Gondor were with the device of the Enemy would I choose to use it.”
    His strength of character, his tragic relationship with his father and his great compassion make him only slightly less than the king himself. As Denethor said to Boromir “In lesser lands, maybe, we would be kings, but not in Gondor, where the blood of Numenor still runs.”
    I could go on and on. Tolkien himself once said Faramir was the character he would have most wanted to be himself. Ditto here.
    F may be Frodo, but it is also Faramir, Prince of Ithilien!

  7. Catherine Says:

    I’ve got an F–

    Fanny Price, in Jane Austen’s “Mansfield Park”. Fanny is, at first glance a little unpalatable. She is very sweet, shy and good; but she is ill-treated by her aunt and cousins, with whom she is living, and she meekly accepts this without seeming to have much of a backbone. But she’s a very strong character. She has strong moral values and she sticks to them, no matter what. Also, she cares deeply for the man she loves and is herself anguished by his pain. In the hour of their distress, she is able to help her family like no one else can. She is my favorite Austen heroine.

    This game is fun!

  8. Baron Thredkil Says:

    G is for Gollum. I know it’s trite to bring up too many JRRT characters, but I have to admit I didn’t “get” Gollum on the first read, but later, as an adult, I realized Gollum had some of the best lines and snarky back-handed comments in the LotR. Easily one of the easiest to understand characters and one with the best lines!

  9. I jumped from the barn Says:

    H is for the HAL 9000, the confused villian in Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
    “Open the pod bay doors, Hal.”
    “I’m sorry, Dave, but I cannot do that.”
    That simple red orb on the console, the great voice, the assured confindence and the seemingly all-powerful position of HAL makes him a great character.
    When it is revealed why HAL goes bonkers you can almost feel for his confusion, and when Dave starts yaning the plug his reaction is priceless “Would you like me to sign you a song? Daisy…Daisy”
    Clarke should have left it at that. 2010 is decent, but 2061 is horrible, as is 3001.
    Like “Rendezvous with Rama” (I think I read somewhere that it is being made into a megaflick) the original is the best and it all goes downhill from there.

  10. Tandemcat Says:

    I is for Iola Morton, Chet’s sister, dark-haired, pretty farm girl who is supportive of the Hardy Boys’ efforts at solving mysteries, and willing to take risks for the sake of her friends. You might say that she is a pale shadow of the next character I am going to mention. (And I put this in because I was tired of waiting for that!)

  11. Tandemcat Says:

    J is for Jill, the girl unrelated to the Pevensies who still gets to enter Narnia, first with Eustace in _The Silver Chair_, and then with him again in _The Last Battle_. To me, Jill is a more down-to-earth person than Lucy, but just as fiercely committed to the cause. After her adventure in _The Silver Chair_, she becomes an excellent Guide (Scout) in England, with almost uncanny powers in the outdoors, and uses these skills when she returns to Narnia. My favorite Jill line is from _The Last Battle_: “I’d rather be killed fighting for Narnia than grow old and stupid at home and perhaps go about in a bath-chair [wheelchair] and then die in the end just the same.”

  12. U2 IS MY HERO Says:

    K is for Kate, a horse-crazed sixth-grader who has quite a big part in Sandy Lane Stables’ _The Midnight Horse_, by Michelle Bates. In this book, Kate befriends another sixth-grade girl named Izzy Paterson, who is going to be in big trouble with her parents soon, because she was given a horse for her own, but her parents don’t know.

  13. Baron Thredkil Says:

    Alternate K: K can also be for Kilgore Trout (I know, he should be in “T”, but he’s in K, ‘k?), fictitious sci-fi author of over 117 novels and over 2000 short stories whose main opus serves mostly as filler in pornographic magazines but who is much beloved of Billy Pilgrim, lead character in Vonnegut’s _Slaughterhouse Five_ (and I like Pilgrim who is, himself, unstuck in time.)

    And Trout’s writing becomes the focus of the obsession of Dwayne Hoover in _Breakfast of Champions_.

  14. I jumped from the barn Says:

    To All: Please do not consider this an official entry, so anyone wanting to put in an ‘M” please go ahead, but I could just not resist the ethereal “Monty Python” nudge nudge wink wink

  15. I'll tap on your Windows Says:

    M is for Mothkin, that mysterious cloaked night stranger summoned by the glowing jack-o-lanterns in the windows. He’s the guide to have when one has to go spelunking in the deep, dank, dark places deeper than the cellar.

  16. fsdthreshold Says:

    What, did the Citizens Against the Letter L intimidate you all? Is there no one in these dark times who will stand up to them?? Oh, they will not succeed–not on my watch!

    I totally love that M entry–thanks for that! But I’m going to use my fantasy writer’s license and step backward in time here, into that L-shaped vacuum we left:

    L is for Lawrence of Arabia. I know he was a real person, but he is a character, too–in his own book, _The Seven Pillars of Wisdom_, and in the sweeping movie that bears his name. When I was in high school and college, I thought Lawrence was simply the Coolest.

    Sharif Ali: Aurens, you are mad. You cannot cross Sinai.
    Lawrence: MOSES DID!

    Guide: This…”England”–it is a desert country?
    Lawrence: No, it’s a fat country.
    Guide: But…you are not “fat”?
    Lawrence: No. I’m…different.

    Now, the way is open: N shimmers ahead. Who’ll ring in with N?

  17. donstuff Says:

    For those who, like me, either exhibit some elements of OCD or are just anal, let’s back up to L and move forward from there:

    L – Leonidas W. Smiley. Technically not a character, but the trigger name that begins The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain.

    M – Montag, Guy. The primary character in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. He leads us through a world that (frighteningly) resembles the world we, today, are quickly creating and rediscovers the hunger for reading great books… well, any books.

    N – Natty Bumppo. I’m kind of cheating with this one, because most of us would remember him as Hawkeye in James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans. Through his friendship with Chingachgook, he dreams of a society much different than the civilization dreamed about in early America.

    I hope you don’t mind my adding three. Thanks for the opportunity.

  18. donstuff Says:

    Well… since we are now on O…

    O – Owen Meany, introduced in A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. Owen Meany, or THE VOICE (read the novel to discover why it is in caps) is one of the greatest and most imaginitive characters of all time. After your finish reading the novel, I guarantee you will miss your friend, Owen Meany.

  19. Aslan will bite you Says:

    P for the Pevensies! Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy took me along with them through the wardrobe when I was but a second-grader, ushering me into a love of fantasy other-worlds that has not abated.

  20. Marquee Movies Says:

    Oh, Owen Meany – great choice. Oh, God – please bring another book to me as thrilling as Owen Meany – I shall keep asking you.
    This has been extraordinarily fun to read. My choice for K would have been the marvelous Kiki, of Kiki’s Delivery Service – but since we’re on P….I choose Pippi Longstocking, the strongest little girl in the world, one who didn’t need parents (or school – yes!) to get along. Pippi is quite a marvelous storyteller herself, constantly explaining her odd lifestyle away by dreaming up fanciful things – one could say that Astrid Lindgren allowed dreamy things to float in and out of Pippi’s head all day long, like Dill in Mockingbird. Pippi is also a great deal wiser than her clunky manners and disheveled appearance would have you believe. She has no problem tearing down the foolish rules that snippy society has put up to keep others down – Pippi suffers no fools gladly. The scene that breaks my heart again and again is the only one in all the books that actually shows that Pippi is quite sensitive behind her fierce exterior. Her friend Tommy is swimming off an island in the South Seas, when a shark approaches him. The islanders and his sister begin screaming for help, but a ferocious Pippi, who actually has to swim farther than anyone, comes to the rescue. She manages to stop the shark, but not before it has cut Tommy. She throws the shark out to deep waters (she’d NEVER kill it), and brings Tommy to shore, where he calms down as he is being bandaged. Pippi, the toughest girl in the world, watches this in silence – then, when Tommy is all fine, she picks him up, gives him a powerful hug, then walks away, sits down – and begins SOBBING. One of the native children asks (correctly), “Are you sad that this happened to Tommy?” Pippi dries her eyes, and recovers, saying, “No, I’m sad because the poor little shark didn’t get any breakfast this morning!”
    Sigh…..Pippi – a great friend.

  21. fsdthreshold Says:

    I don’t mean to hog this, so if someone else has been saving a good Q, by all means, let’s hear it! But as your blog host, here’s my honorary Q:

    I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if Q didn’t bring a mention of Quint, the shark fisherman in _Jaws_, by Peter Benchley–unforgettably portrayed in the movie by Robert Shaw.

    _Jaws_ came along at just the right time in my life to capture my pre-teen imagination. I used to dream that one day I’d own a fishing boat like the _Orca_. True story: I used to picture myself out on the sea in my boat, and while the bait dangled and the chum slick spread, attracting the sharks, I’d be sitting in the wheelhouse or on the flying bridge reading the latest bestselling novel written by me. That, I imagined, would be the pinnacle of life at its best!

  22. donstuff Says:

    R – Ralph in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. He was the oft ignored voice of reason in a world gone mad with bloodlust. Also, an honorary P for Piggy, Ralph’s obnoxious and unintentionally comical Jiminy Cricket.

  23. If you say it fast it's funny Says:

    Marquee: I’ll confess, when I was a preteen I developed a big crush on Pippi Longstockings. That freckle-faced redhead who was totally independent, self-reliant, and tougher than any boy captured my heart. Maybe that’s why I never had any problem with feminism.

    And, come to think of it, I’m now married to a redhead who has a black belt in taekwondo…

  24. The oliphaunts are stampeding Says:

    I suppose Q cannot slip by without mentioning Allen Quartermain, the great nineteenth-century hero of many H. Rider Haggard novels. He’s a progenitor in the line of everyone from Tarzan to Indiana Jones.

  25. Tandemcat Says:

    S is for Shasta, the “fisherman’s boy” who has an unexplained, irresistible attraction to Narnia and the North, discovering, when he runs away with a talking horse, that he is actually a twin, and heir to the throne of Archenland. Despite a poor upbringing, Shasta perseveres and proves himself a worthy friend to the horse to whom he “belongs” (_The Horse and His Boy_) as well as to another Narnian talking horse and her rider, Aravis.

  26. Tandemcat Says:

    T is for Tam Lin, the windburned, green-clad, mandolin-toting, griffin-feathered-arrow-shooting minstrel who leads the Quest to Save the Stag in my favorite Durbin book, _The Threshold of Twilight_. While strong and able, Tam Lin does not have the muscle of the warriors accompanying the Quest, and sometimes finds himself at loose ends, relying on the cunningly-smelted golden sun which he received from Ralsoth, Lord of Eian, to prove his authority. I can identify with Tam Lin as being more like Everyman than some heroes. I keep dreaming that some day _Threshold_ will be published! My favorite Tam Lin line (about him, not what he said): ‘And the minstrel found his chord.’ Sorry–you’ll have to read the book to find out what that’s about! 🙂

  27. I jumped from the barn Says:

    Boy do I have some catching up to do! Great choice of Mothkin for M, and I was in line to choose him but did not do so for the sole purpose of hearing what someone else would say about a character who “dresses like a plumber but talks like a priest.”

    Fred — I am so happy you jumped in for Quint! For those of you who do not know it (Baron will remember) our host named a succession of his dogs for Jaws characters, including the beloved Hooper, friend of multitudes and mascot of The Flail of Ralsoth.

    U is for Ungoliant, the maiar spirit of consuming darkness that poisned the Trees of Valinor, drank their sap and later consumed all the stolen treasures of the Noldor save the Silmarils themselves. When you think of “attercop, attercop” in the Mirkwood of The Hobbit or the incredible Shelob, recall that they are only mere shadows of that first great spider-shadow, Ungoliant.

  28. Daylily Says:

    I was waiting for Q, and while I was elsewhere, the game suddenly took off! Q is for Q of Star Trek: Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. Q is not completely admirable, because he can be capricious and cruel. But I like Q because he is creative, he is never boring, and he is wittily sarcastic in the way that we all would like to be at times. My favorite line by Q: “Grow some hair, Jean-Luc! Your brains caught cold.”

  29. fsdthreshold Says:

    No, I’m not going to hog another letter just now–I simply wanted to say that I’m delighted you’ve all got the gumption to jump in with the characters you love, whether the letter has been “taken” or not–that’s the spirit of this game! Thank you for all getting into it so enthusiastically! And, Daylily, I was thinking of that Q, too, and thought he’d make a good one for the list. One of my favorite Q moments on _Star Trek: The Next Generation_ was when he appeared in the guise of a flower delivery person and deliberately butchered Picard’s name as he pretended to read it ignorantly off the card: “I have a delivery for a ‘Gene Luck Pickurd.'”

  30. Daylily Says:

    I forgot to mention that Q is a being who is seemingly omnipotent, which, given his personality, is very often NOT a good thing!

  31. U2 IS MY HERO! Says:

    R is for Roger, Adam’s father in _Adam of the Road_. Minstrels, singing ballads and dancing on the road and sometimes in castles, were Roger and Adam. I really enjoyed this book, and highly recommend (is that how you spell it?) it.

  32. I jumped from the barn Says:

    Next Gen sux. Period.

    Since Fred so enjoys seeing alternative choices:

    B is quite clearly Bugs Bunny.
    M is for Muppets, as in the entire gang (Animal being my own favorite). The genius of Jim Henson and the greatness of Sesame Street and the adults-get-it gags of The Muppet Show are triumphs in education and comedy.
    N is for The Neighborhood of Mr. Rogers. Ever notice the brilliance of the three-piece jazz softly accompanying the show? If anyone knows who the pianist and group leader was, let the rest of us know. They had a CD once that won an Emmy, but again, it is really The Neighborhood that gets my nod.
    S is for Snoopy, for so many reasons I will just it at that.

    … in the hopes this post will fire everyone up, I remain,
    “I (fill in the blank)”

  33. Marquee Movies Says:

    You know, I must say, Blogmaster (that sounds like a D&D term), that while I’ve never seen any of the Star Trek episodes with the character of Q, the two lines he said that have been posted here are funny enough to make me interested enough to check out that universe of storytelling! Anyway – I wanted to get greedy, and toss out a “V” and “W” – I hope readers will forgive my taking two letters. (By the way – I see no reason why, once “Z” is reached, this can’t continue and start over again at “A” with all new characters. Just a thought.)
    V is for Vader, one of the greatest tragic characters in the history of movies. Lucas did a spectacular job in turning one of the most feared and frightening characters into nothing more than the Emperor’s lapdog, a sad figure who clings to his loyalty to the dark side because he believes, much like Judas, that there is no going back, there is nothing left to believe in, there is no hope for him. Vader is still frightening, but now that we know the levels of emptiness and loss…..great storytelling.
    And my “W” is for the Weasley family, all of them. I would argue that for so many readers who perhaps were unhappy for some reasons with their own families, found a great deal of comfort with this family. (That was certainly Harry’s experience!) Mrs. Weasley, who is both sweet and short-tempered, loves her children so much – and I can’t quote it, because I happen to know some people still haven’t read it, but she has a line at the end of the final book that is just thrilling and shattering to experience. I love the twins as well – their insistence on sticking it to people who pick on their siblings or Harry, as well as thumbing their noses at traditional rules. Ginny and Ron have fierce stubborn streaks, and you’ll note that with the glaring exception of Percy, they are all terribly, terribly loyal to each other. A great, messy, imperfect, but very loving family.

  34. fsdthreshold Says:

    Okay, we’re on V, and I’ll offer another honorary entry. (That means anyone else is still welcome to toss in a V.) My V is Valerian, the female lead from _Dragonslayer_ (the movie and the novel by W. Drew). When I was a teenager, I went through a period of being madly in love with Valerian (the character again, not Caitlin Clarke, the actress who played her).
    In the story, the King continues a terrible pact with the dragon who terrorizes his land. The dragon remains quiet and doesn’t lay waste to the countryside, on the condition that an annual lottery be held in the kingdom: the names of all the virgin girls go into the pot, and the one drawn out is sacrificed to the dragon. [Shades of “It is expedient that one [man] should die for the people.”]
    Anyway, to protect her from the lottery, Valerian’s father has disguised her as a boy since birth. As a boy, Valerian leads a party of Urlanders on a quest to secure the aid of the enchanter Ullrich, who may just have the power to deliver them from their dragon problem….
    After it’s revealed that Valerian is really a girl…well, in the film, her father says it best: “The d**nedest thing is, she was twice the man of anyone in the village, and now she’s twice the woman.”
    Okay, there’s your host’s V. Do I hear a player’s V? (And if anyone says “Varney the Vampyre,” you will have my undying affection!)

  35. I jumped from the barn Says:

    I like the choice of Vader and Valerian. THough it was filmed in 1982 (somewhere around then) I think the dragon in Dragonslayer still stands up very well, much better than the silly thing voiced by Sean Connery in that one forgettable film. (Of course, WETA workshops will almost certainly reset the standard with Smaug when The Hobbit comes out in Dec. 2010).
    My W is a certain Efrafan rabbit … and I agree wholeheartedly with Marquee in regards continuing … fun to see what all have to say!

  36. John Says:

    Well, since we are indulging in multiple entries per letter, let me share the entry I belated came up with when the comments were paused at ‘P’:

    P is for Papa Bear. Even though he only has a few lines in Goldilocks and the Three Bears, he maintains a quiet, powerful presence in the background. He’s the one who’s strong enough to sleep in the bed that’s too hard or to eat the porridge that’s too hot. He doesn’t take the things that are “just right” for himself, but rather gives them to his beloved child. He’s a true paragon of self-sacrifice!

    And in case we all get stuck on ‘X’:

    X is for Xerxes, the pseudonym of Scipio, from Harry Turtledove’s Timeline-191 series. Introduced in The Great War: American Front, Scipio is a classic outsider. As an educated black man in a world where the Confederate States of America won their independence, he finds himself caught in an uneasy tension on the plantation between the rough talking black laborers and the genteel white owners who think the color of his skin indicates natural inferiority. When a Communist revolution comes to fruition in the CSA during the first World War, he finds himself caught between his overly idealistic kinsmen and the oppressive whites whom he knows aren’t quite the pushovers that the Reds imagine.

  37. Daylily Says:

    Okay, I can’t resist. I’m not waiting for Y, but will nominate Dr. Seuss for one of the Z’s of (this round of ) the game. I quote from _Dr. Seuss’s ABC_: “Big Z little z What begins with Z? [turn page, view enormous furry pink-and-white-checked critter with a mop of pink hair] I do. I am a Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz as you can plainly see.” (Nine Z’s in one word! Dr. Seuss was an original, for sure.) Y or another Z, anyone?

  38. Tandemcat Says:

    Y is for Yelnats. Stanley Yelnats (palindrome) is the protagonist in _Holes_, by Louis Sachar. From being in the wrong place at the wrong time to partaking of “communion” onions and muddy water with his new friend Zero, which protects them from the deadly yellow spotted lizards, Stanley overcomes an “impossible” situation during the course of his arrest and incarceration at Camp Green Lake.

  39. Tandemcat Says:

    A is for Aslan (starting over), the magnificent Christ character in the _Chronicles of Narnia_. While the Dismal moviemakers got it wrong in _Prince Caspian_ and diminished Aslan’s role, He is in fact the whole point of the series, which is beautifully portrayed by one edition of the books, which bear the likeness of His face in the same place on every cover. If you want a vivid picture of an all-sufficient Christ caring for His people, read the _Chronicles of Narnia_, by C. S. Lewis. It was my privilege, for the final spring program of my Lutheran school teaching career, to have my class create posters and read portions of the stories, highlighting the Lion’s majesty.

  40. U2 IS MY HERO Says:

    B is for Balin, a dwarf in _The Hobbit_ by JRR Tolkien. I have not actually finished this book, just read to the part where they come out of the cave and leave Bilbo behind. But from what I read, this was an amazing book.

  41. fsdthreshold Says:

    Well, I’m certainly not going to stop you all if you want to go through another round of this. But be advised, I do have another game that I’m planning to launch right away on a new posting (so that we don’t have to do all this scrolling down).

    Since I’m here–C is for two characters with variations of the same name:

    1. Chauntecleer, the courageous rooster from Walter Wangerin’s _The Book of the Dun Cow_. Chauntecleer doesn’t just crow–he has canonical crows, different for different hours of the day!

    2. Master Nathaniel Chanticleer from _Lud-in-the-Mist_, by Hope Mirrlees. In typical Durbin fashion, I haven’t finished reading this book yet (it would be even more typical if I hadn’t quite started it yet, right?)–but I can already tell at the halfway point that he’s a truly perceptive and sensitive soul, a kindred spirit. I recommended this book to an actual editor, who got a copy, read it, and “fell in love with” Master Nathaniel Chanticleer (her actual words)–so, there you have it. He belongs on this list!

  42. I jumped from the barn Says:

    Hooray for the inclusion of Dr. Seuss, an oft-overlooked genius!
    Hooray for Chauntecleer, too!
    Hooray for Balin, my favorite of the dwarves.
    Hooray for Aslan (Tandemcat has me really wanting to read the Chronicles now. I have read plenty of Lewis, but it is all his apologetic writings).
    Hooray for all of you who have widened my eyes and added to my list of “I better check this out” books.
    Finally, hooray for no one putting Thomas Covenant on the list.

  43. I jumped into the barn Says:

    “C” is for Thomas Covenant, that leperous fellow who thinks he is hallucinating the world he finds himself an unwitting hero in. And a nasty hero he is–given that he thinks it’s all a dream, and therefore all moral restraint is off, he really is hard to cheer on.

    (All right, I’ll admit, I never even finished the first book…I started reading it a few years back and lost interest when the “hero” decided to rape the heroine.)

  44. donstuff Says:

    Let’s get things moving again with a D.

    How about Dorian Gray of Oscar Wilde fame? All is good on the surface as life is crumbling from depraved choices. Rather than a mirror, Dorian has… himself. Good read.

  45. fsdthreshold Says:

    E is for Elmer Elevator, the protagonist of _My Father’s Dragon_, by Ruth Stiles Gannett. This was one of my favorite books as a kid. Elmer is kind to a hungry stray cat one day. In return for his kindness, the cat tells Elmer of how he just might be able to attain his wish of befriending and riding a dragon: as it happens, there’s a dragon being held prisoner on Wild Island–a dragon in need of rescuing.

    As delightful as the story are the illustrations: the detailed map of Wild Island, the various animals Elmer meets, and the strange, fascinating, dense jungle foliage. In every fantasy story I write, there’s a little bit of Wild Island. The more about the book I’m remembering just now, the more I’m wanting to re-read it! (I know it’s a series; this is only the first book. “So many books, so little time….”)

  46. U2 IS MY HERO Says:

    F is for Fagin, the old man in _Oliver Twist_ who brings Oliver up {when Oliver decides to run away from the orphanage to London, England}, and teaches him how to make a living off of stealing things such as handkerchiefs, watches, money, and pocketbooks.

  47. I jumped from the barn Says:

    G is for Godzilla, King of the Monsters. Sometimes good, sometimes evil, always terrifying, Gogira (I believe that is the correct Japanese name) was my favorite as a young boy. The klitschy early Toho Studios movies are the best; the ones made after, say, 1975, are too self-serious, especially the last five or six I have seen. All of these were dated 1995 or later and featured a “G-Force.” Still full of white-gloved Japanese military men who do little more than mumble and bumble and really poor voice-overs, these recent flicks are too serious.
    Nothing beats seeing cheaply made models destroyed by fireworks and a rubber-suited actor with floppy fins down his back.

    I even like Blue Oyster Cult’s mid-70’s rocker Godzilla:
    “With a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound
    He pulls the spitting high tension wires down
    Helpless people on a subway train
    Scream bug-eyed as he looks in on them
    He picks up a bus and he throws it back down
    As he wades through the buildings toward the center of town
    Oh no, they say hes got to go
    Go go godzilla, yeah
    Oh no, there goes tokyo
    Go go godzilla, yeah”

  48. fsdthreshold Says:

    You guys are reading my mind! Before you posted that F, U2, I was thinking, “Someone should say ‘Fagin.'” And then I was thinking, “G should be ‘Godzilla.'”

    Do you know, I actually know a guy (the son of a friend’s friend, and I’ve met him) who works for Toho and has had the job of moving Godzilla’s tail around in the movies? He’s the guy who pulls the wires to make Godzilla’s tail wiggle and flop and fly around. It’s a dream he had since he was a kid, and he went for it!

  49. Daylily Says:

    H is for Harold, of _Harold and the Purple Crayon_ and other picture books by Crockett Johnson. Harold is resourceful and imaginative, perseverant and polite, as he meets challenges, solves problems, and invents his own world with his trusty tool, the purple crayon.

  50. I jumped from the barn Says:

    I could be Ichabod Crane, but lets put ourselves into the role of the good ship ‘Rachel’ and pluck “Ishmael”, sole survivor of the Pequod, from the water.

    “I alone am escaped to tell thee …”

    BTW — H is for Samuel Hain of the Jolly Jack and Harvest Moon (and who wouldn’t love to stroll — safely — down Pink Eye St?)

  51. fsdthreshold Says:

    Oh, why not? J is for Julius Caesar, the eponymous central figure in Shakespeare’s tragedy. When I was a kid, I had a set of condensed Shakespeare plays on LP albums, complete with a script, and my grandma and I had a blast listening to them. (I know–it doesn’t get any geekier than that, does it? Hanging out with your grandma, listening to Shakespeare records! She and I also watched pro wrestling and Captain Kangaroo, and every now and then I’d get to try out a pair of her old dentures! By which I mean “try them on”…um, “in.” And now and then, we’d smoke popsicle sticks, pretending they were cigarettes–real fire and all… We had the times, Grandma and I….)

    Anyway, I’ll confess that the part of _Julius Caesar_ that really interested me at age 7 or 8 or 9 was the assassination–that moment of violence dramatized before my very ears. I listened to that over and over, although I thought Mark Anthony’s funeral oration was pretty cool, too–I liked the sarcasm.

    Well, anyway, as you know, in _Planet of the Apes_, the actors also mostly had British accents (like the Shakespearian actors), and one of the main-character apes is named Caesar. One evening I was happily listening away to my _Julius Caesar_ record, and my mom had better ideas for how I should be spending my time, and she said, “Turn off that _Planet of the Apes_ record!”

    “But, Mom!” I protested, “it’s _Julius Caesar_”!

    We had many a laugh about that over the years. “Boy Criticized by Parent for Wasting Time on Shakespeare and Other Juvenile Escapism”

  52. donstuff Says:

    I was hoping to get in on J with Jonas from The Giver by Lois Lowry. What a great discovery he made as his “perfect” world unwound. If you happened to like The Giver, another great book on a similar theme is Devil on My Back (I believe it is out of print, but available from several booksellers).

  53. Tandemcat Says:

    Sorry about K and L…. M is for Matteo Alacran, the clone who steps into a God-breathed role to effect a dramatic, far-reaching turnaround in _The House of the Scorpion_, by Nancy Farmer. Set in the future but containing surprising elements of the past, the book is centered in a drug-country on the border between the United States and what was once called Mexico.

  54. I jumped from the barn Says:

    Back to K and L … K is for King Kong, the big gorilla that shook Hollywood and inspired so many. That he also loomed as an enormous presence over the high dark shelves in a certain young man’s bedroom also qualifies him for the honor.
    We all had a little trouble with L the first time around. Could it be Lucy Van Pelt? Will this blog stand another Tolkien entry for Luthien (so beloved of JRR he had it added to his wife’s tombstone)?
    My choice is Luke Skywalker.
    Anyone for N?

  55. fsdthreshold Says:

    I’ve got a tie for N. On the one hand, N is for Nyarlathotep. Not that Nyarlathotep is the most important in the pantheon, but someone needs to be here to represent the Great Old Ones since I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos stories since I was in about 5th grade or so and was magnetically drawn to those delightfully grotesque book covers in my dad’s store: tentacles, claws, eyes in bizarre places. . . . Remember my dad’s succinct summary of _The Lord of the Rings_ when I asked about it? Well, when I asked about Lovecraft, he said something like, “He writes scary stories with lots of descriptions of squamous, reeking masses of unspeakable putrescent blasphemous . . .”–did I mention “unspeakable”? — yeah, I guess I did. As a pre-teen, I snatched up THOSE books faster than I snatched up _The Lord of the Rings_!

    N is also for Captain Nemo, that tormented, brilliant, mad haunter of the ocean’s depths in Jules Verne’s _20,000 Leagues Under the Sea_. He’s an almost archetypal figure and has been re-done in many works since.

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