So, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme from The Broke and The Bookish is a back to school one, namely what literary characters would you like to have sitting at your lunch table.
Given that I haven’t been at school in *whisper it* 24 years and I don’t read a lot of books featuring teenagers, this is going to be one odd table……
1. Harriet M Welsch from Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Harriet is my first choice mainly because she is the coolest kid EVER. She is a loner, curious and honest who calls it as she sees it and I admire that. She could keep me up to date with what is going on with everyone in and out of school before we have cake and milk at 3.40.
2. Patrick Bateman from American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Ok, so it’s a bit weird to want a Huey Lewis loving, mentally unhinged serial killer at your table, but I like naff 80’s music and am appreciative of a well-printed business card. Plus, if the food in the canteen is rubbish, you can bet he’ll be able to get us a ‘res’ at the Dorsia.
3. Charles Hythloday from An Evening of Long Goodbyes by Paul Murray
When I reviewed this novel last week, I said that I would love to go drinking with the lazy, louche, upper class Charles Hythloday. As that isn’t the Top Ten Theme this week, (though it would be a good one), the lunch table will have to do. Anyway, Charles is bound to have expensive single malt in his hip flask!
4. Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Intelligent, witty, self-serving and beautiful– Becky might not be the nicest of people but I’d be happier to have her at my table than at anyone else’s. She may be overbearing and manipulative, but she sees right to the heart of society’s hypocrisy and highlights it mercilessly. It’s hard not to admire her determined independence. She can be Heather to my Veronica.
5. Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
Holly would bring a little sparkle and glamour to my lunch table, charming and enthralling anyone who might join us. She might not stay long, she might even vanish forever, but not before we’ve all been beguiled and bewitched.
6. Falstaff from Henry IV Part I by William Shakespeare
Think of the carousing, the jokes, the bawdiness, and the big-hearted hugs. Imagine the sheer fun of getting to sit with John Falstaff every lunch time. Falstaff can lie, steal and boast for sure, but he does everything with such fabulous consistency and unfailing high spirits that it would be impossible not to be captivated by his loyalty and his vitality.
7. Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
No list relating to school would be complete without my ultimate teenage literary crush. Nowadays I know that he’s controlling, obsessive, jealous and cruel but when I was 17 those weren’t necessarily bad qualities in a partner and he was the most wonderful, romantic figure I had ever encountered. Thank God we grow up.
8. Miss Jean Brodie from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
Is it too odd to have a teacher at my lunch table? Not that Miss Jean Brodie is just any teacher. Unconventional and daring, she would sooner take the ‘Brodie set’ to the theatre or tell them about her doomed love life than make them read a text book. A passionate believer in truth, art and beauty, Miss Brodie is ‘la crème de la crème’ of characters.
9. Sugar from Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
So, I’ve cheated a little with this one as Sugar is the anonymous advice columnist from The Rumpus, whose beautifully written, savage and heartbreaking responses to letters requesting advice have been put together in the book Tiny Beautiful Things. Sugar was recently unmasked as Wild author Cheryl Strayed but is still a fictional character therefore worthy of a place at my lunch table. Especially when she gives advice that all teenagers could learn from:
One Christmas at the very beginning of your twenties when your mother gives you a warm coat that she saved for months to buy, don’t look at her skeptically after she tells you she thought the coat was perfect for you. Don’t hold it up and say it’s longer than you like your coats to be and too puffy and possibly even too warm. Your mother will be dead by spring. That coat will be the last gift she gave you. You will regret the small thing you didn’t say for the rest of your life.
Say thank you.
10. Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
Come on, right? Who else could there be? If I have to go back to the cut throat world of school I quite fancy having a bad ass, kick ass, super intelligent computer hacker on my side. She’s Harriet for the tech generation and one of the best female characters I’ve read in years.
So, there you have it. A posh drunk, a serial killer, another drunk, a computer hacker and an advice columnist amongst others. I doubt we will be the popular kids in school……
So what do you think? Want to come share your sandwich with us?