Yes, I love character-driven fiction. I can almost–almost, but not quite–accept a poorly written novel if its characters are interesting. Occasionally, I like to blog about interesting characters I’ve come across recently in the fiction I’ve read. Here are a few I’ve met this past year:
Eileen in Eileen by Otessa Moshfegh. I downright hated this depressing tale narrated by the sociopathic Eileen. I only finished it because Eileen kept promising a BIG REVEAL, which instead was a big letdown. I should have known not to trust her. Eileen is self-centered and loathsome. But she is unforgettable.
Malka Treynovsky in The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman. Malka starts life as a naïve, hopeful immigrant child who gradually becomes an embittered, successful entrepreneur.
Dix Steele in In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes. This guy is one evil dude. The author takes the reader into the mind of a serial killer. Humphrey Bogart played him in the movie, but was not as evil a character.
Selina in Brown Girl, Brownstones by Paule Marshall is another young immigrant, but from childhood she is feisty, rebellious, and sometimes cruel to family and friends. She’s a well-drawn character, but one I couldn’t bring myself to like, because of her cruelty.
Ralph Roberts in Insomnia by Stephen King. Ralph is a senior widower who finds new meaning to life when faced with a supernatural foe. King has always had a knack for creating strong characters. Ralph is real in every way.
The dad in Haters by Alisa Valdes. I can’t remember his name. He’s not the protagonist, but he’s a fun-loving, sweet father to his self-absorbed teenage daughter. It’s a refreshing portrayal of a loving parent.
Antoinette Conway in Trespasser by Tana French. It’s interesting that the most compelling characters are often the most unlikable. Antoinette carries a chip (that is more like a boulder) on her shoulder. But she’s fiercely independent and smart. Tana French mysteries always have detailed, real characters, and Antoinette is one of her best.