Thursday, February 07, 2008

Booking Through Thursday- But Enough About Books

Last week the Booking Through Thursday participants were kind enough to answer a question I had posed a while back, and what did I do? Ignore them. I was so busy with work that I simply forgot all about it. To make amends, not only will I finally get around to that question but I'll answer this week's as well.

1st: 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?

If the book is satirical, I love over-the-top characters (like those in Mordecai Richler's Cocksure). For some reason, I also think I'm much more tolerable of eccentric villains (Shakespearean villains are great as was Zenia of Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride).

At the risk of offending so their fans, I could just barely stand the characters in John Irving's The World According To Garp and Robertson Davies' Fifth Business. I didn't find them believable at all, but fortunately the stories were interesting enough to forgive them.

There are also those who infuse their books with wild names. In real life I'd love to meet people named Gravytrain or Dromedary. On the interesting scale, it doesn't get much duller than John. But when every other character in a novel is given a bizarre name, it's distracting and rings false. Those in Ami McKay's The Birth House and Frances Itani's Deafening are perfect examples.

Then there are those characters which are so forced in their idiosyncrasies that I just can't enjoy the book at all, no matter what the story line. Jeanette Winterson’s Lighthousekeeping was one of those books.

2nd: Okay, even I can’t read ALL the time, so I’m guessing that you folks might voluntarily shut the covers from time to time as well… What else do you do with your leisure to pass the time? Walk the dog? Knit? Run marathons? Construct grandfather clocks? Collect eggshells?

I also write, but not as often as I should (except for blogging, which we all know isn't real writing). I always manage to find 1000 excuses not to. It's like exercising, except I actually like to write. I used to blame TV, but now with the writer's strike and absence of The Office, I have no one to point the finger at except myself. I'm also part of a local theatre group, but I've yet to be in any play. Mostly we do workshops and improv (which I'm quickly realizing I suck at). I also enjoy bike riding, listening to music and taking long walks on the beach (okay that last one was just thrown in there for comedic purposes, but it is true). Friday nights are usually reserved for friends and a nerdy-sounding but oh so fun board game called Cities and Knights of Catan. Finally, I just like hanging out with my kids-- the ones I'm currently neglecting to write this post.


Anonymous said...

I think John Irving is far too twee myself. One or two of his books are lovely to read but any more than that and he just loses me.

I was wondering if the JMutford was you! You neglectful father, you. ;)

Chrisbookarama said...

Figured that was you. Longs walks on the beach...very funny.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

What do you mean, blogging isn't real writing? Have I been deluding myself all this time?

Literary Feline said...

I come across a lot of interesting names in my line of work, and so it's rare that a name in a book will surprise me or make me doubt the possibility that someone out there might actually carry such an unusual name. I do have to wonder though what the parents were thinking . . .

John Mutford said...

Carrie: I had to look up "twee." Thanks for expanding my vocabulary!

Chris: I grew up next to a beach, so it's not entirely funny...

Barbara: I was expecting a bit more slagging for that one. Oh well. At least I offended you ;)

Literary Feline: It's worse when character names are overly convenient to the plot.

Ami said...

Oops...didn't mean to delete.

We play lots of Cities and Knights at our house as well! (guess that makes me a Nerd of Catan)

Ami -
with an i, because my dad liked names with unusual spellings.

John Mutford said...

Ami: We console ourselves by saying at least it's not Dungeons and Dragons.

And sorry about spelling your name wrong, I've fixed it above.