Wednesday, August 03, 2005

 

Eccentric protagonists

I suppose by definition all protagonists in good books are eccentrics one way or another....all characters in fictions by American satirist Kurt Vonnegut are loony. Oskar, the dwarf hero who refused to grow up and banging the tin drum all day long is an eccentric...he's of course the main character in "The Tin Drum" by Gunther Grass. One of the craziest eccentrics I've ever come across is the chess mad protagonist in Elias Canneti's one and only great novel "Auto Da Fe"...Holden Caulfield is depressingly loony...He's the hero in "the cather in the rye" of course...all characters in one of the greatest children books I've ever read...alice in wonderland ...are marvelously loony...

But what I want to tell you is this book that I'm currently reading..."The underground man" by Mick Jackson. I don't know anything about this author and I discovered the book at a junk sale (Amcorp mall) and bought it for RM4.00. What attracted me to the book is the short blurb...Shortlisted for Booker Prize 1997....and now I'm reading it and have to put the others that I'm also currently reading on hold... and it says something about "The Underground Man" if I have to keep aside "Atomised" by Heullebecq , "The Line of Beauty " by Alan Hollinghurst, "The word According to the Son " by Norman Mailer (fictional account by Jesus of his life) "Among the Thugs" (Non fiction about football hooligans) by Brufford and "Dream Catcher" by Margaret Sallinger (autobiography/memoir)....

The protagonist in this book is definitely loony... an old ugly but lovable duke living in a big mansion in a large estate in 19th century and with very amusing err.. musing....the book started with him thinking about apple trees...and it hooked me from the start...not what I would call a heavy reading but very nice feeling to it... his line of musings are things that I can identify with...nothing grandiose but v. funny....the book lost to Arundhaty Roy's "the god of small thing" for Booker prize....which I have but have yet to read...

And one small post script... a couple of years ago, while in line at the immigration check point at Bangkok Airport...I saw Suhaimi Baba the film director in front of me...and she was reading "The God of small thing" while waiting for her turn to get her passport cleared... she was on her way to get her film (can't remember which one) processed or something in Bangkok....seems like she has good taste in reading..........

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