Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday:Favorite Characters from Short Stories

This week's Top Ten Tuesday (brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish) is looking at our top ten characters in "X" genre. I thought I would pick ten characters from some of my favorite short stories. In no particular order:

1. The mother in James Agee's "A Mother's Tale." If you haven't read this short story, go find a copy, somewhere. My copy is in the excellent You've Got to Read This: Contemporary Writers Introduce Stories that Held Them in Awe. This is one of my very favorite short stories; the mother in the story is a cow. I can't even begin to explain what makes this story so wonderful, you really just have to read it.
2. Almeda Joynt Roth, the "poetess" main character of Alice Munro's "Meneseteung."
3. The Grandmother of Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find." Of course, she is mean, bigoted, querulous, and causes the death of her whole family through her own vanity and weakness. But, as the Misfit says, she would have been a good woman if there had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.
4. Bible salesman Manley Pointer in Flannery O'Connor's "Good Country People." Of course, he's a scoundrel, but he has one of the best names in literature.
5. The narrator of Tille Olsen's "I Stand Here Ironing," in which a woman talks to a social worker about her thwarted relationship with her daughter. I don't think many people read Tillie Olsen anymore, and that is unfortunate, because her stories give voice to working class women
6. The eponymous character of Bartleby in "Bartleby the Scrivener" by Herman Melville.
7. The strange, feral girl in "Goats" by Rick Bass. She is called "Goat Girl" and then "Flozelle," and she is one of those eerily memorable characters.
8. The shoemaker Sobel in "The First Seven Years" by Bernard Malamud.
9. The devil takes the form of a man in Stephen King's chilling story "The Man in the Black Suit."
10. Arnold Friend in "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?'

Some of my "top ten" are sinister or cunning, but these characters are all memorable. And I never even touched on Joyce, or Dubus or Chekhov or Gaines.

What are some of your favorite characters in your favorite genre?


stujallen said...

neddy from Cheever's the swimmer ,all the best stu

bibliophiliac said...

@stu-That is a good suggestion! I just went and found the story on-line. Maybe I will share it with my students....