Tag Archives: books

The Ambivalent Protaganist

by Casey Baker

Recently, Huffington Post published an article (link:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/claire-fallon/great-male-protagonists-w_b_4044741.html) naming a few male protagonists from famous novels that no one would really wish to befriend if they existed in the real world. While the piece is an interesting, rather pro-feminist examination of generally brutish male characters, it leaves out an entire gender and examination therein.

Which led me to consider, of all of the characters I’ve met in the great Imagi-sphere that is the act of reading, which ones have I encountered who were both entirely compelling and also incredibly off-putting? Here are my top five.

1. Esther Greenwood, The Bell Jar – While Sylvia Plath’s semi-autobiographical novel is a strong examination of the stilted social mores of women during a specific time in history and the effects of those mores that still holds great weight today, Esther is someone I would never want to simply ‘hang out’ with. This isn’t to say she is an uninteresting protagonist, rather the opposite – as the old adage goes, “Misery loves company” and Esther’s way of thinking is so relatable to anyone who has lived under the oppressive, patriarchal hetero-normative society that still informs our culture today. A day with Esther would involve venting together, crying to let it all go, and then feeling miserable for the rest of the day. The novel is enough catharsis.

2. Tyler, Shampoo Planet (Douglas Coupland) – Tyler is what Coupland labels a “Global Teen” and part of Generation Y, a generation that I unfortunately belong to simply by a matter of years. Tyler embodies everything I dislike about my generation, including a mindless adherence to consumerism that even reaches into a desire to be a corporate CEO simply because corporations control so much of the consumer media, a misplaced admiration in Reaganomics, flightiness in both life and love, and a copious amount of hair products to keep up a facade of stability and self-assuredness. By the end of the novel, Tyler finally realizes that his interests are transient and not based on anything real or sincere, but by then he has already ruined things for himself in many ways. I suppose a part of what I dislike about Tyler is that he does remind me of some elements of myself at a much younger, more naive age.

3. Clay (Bateman?), Less Than Zero (Bret Easton Ellis) – Clay is a spoiled, rich Southern California jerk. His friends are detestable, his life is by and large meaningless, and he is generally an amoral bit of driftwood, floating along a tide of drugs, sex and unhappiness. While Clay is fascinating because his life does well to satirize much of the LA culture and its excesses in a very dark series of parties and meaningless relationships, he is also someone who would casually sit across a dinner table with you, coked up and barely paying attention. A real sleezeball. It doesn’t help that his brother is possibly the one and only American Psycho, Patrick Bateman.

4.  Shannon McFarland/Daisy St. Patience/Bubba Joan/Whatever, the narrator of Invisible Monsters (Chuck Palahniuk) – After getting her face shot off, the narrator of Invisible Monsters meets the queen of train-wrecks, Brandy Alexander, and the two go on a pill-stealing, soap-operatic crime spree of epic proportions. While the narrator and her story are hilarious and continuously compelling throughout the several ridiculous plot turns of the story, she’s also incredibly psychotic and someone you wouldn’t even trust with your dying houseplant. Steer clear of this brand of crazy, despite how fabulous she seems.

5. Ms. Valerie Frizzle, The Magic Schoolbus – While the idea of shrinking into microscopic sizes and exploring the cells of the body or diving deep into the dark, black ocean with a bus submersible seem incredibly fun for any kid, the reality of the situation is that this woman is more than a little deranged, willing to put her students right into the jaws of danger just to teach them a lesson about plant chlorophyll or the inner workings of stomach acid. Ms. Frizzle is a dangerous woman with dangerous ideas.

What are your type five fiction frenemies?

Post-Apocalyptic Top 3

Post-Apocalyptic is a big genre right now, especially in current television shows and movies.  From zombie outbreaks to alien invasions, post-nuclear attacks to worldwide technological crashes, and even natural disasters that destroy modern civilization – you have access to your favorite end-of-the-world scenario in many forms.

However, when recommending post-apocalyptic as a genre, what are your top 3?  I will happily start this, though mine are all visual in form (but it takes talent to write a good screenplay or tv show episode, as well):

1)      Falling Skies (tv show)

2)      Elysium (movie)

3)      The Road (movie)

And the final season of the television show Fringe is definitely a close fourth.

But enough from me, what are your top three?  Please, comment below to let us know.

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dystopian Top 3

Hello Forum Magazine readers!  Today we’re talking about Dystopian art and stories, or, more specifically, your favorites within the Dystopian genre.  Whether we love, hate, or carry a lukewarm temperament toward it, we must admit that Dystopian art is definitely popular, right now.  We can argue the reasons for or merits of this amongst ourselves later, but for today’s discussion is about your top three Dystopian pieces (whether visual or written art).

So our question to you is: do you have three favorites that you consider the best in the genre, or even just the best representatives of it?  What do you consider the three art pieces, stories, novels, plays, what-have-you that are the first three Dystopian pieces that someone new to the genre should see?

I’ll start:

1)      The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

2)      1984 by George Orwell

3)      The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins is a very close runner up to this list.

But enough about my favorites, what are your favorites?  Please, comment below so that everyone can see, and possibly appreciate your top three.

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!