RARA-AVIS: Re: anitheroes unappealing/dull?

From: Doug Hoffman, MD ( hoffmand@cc.northcoast.com)
Date: 26 Apr 2002

The antiheroes who "work" for me have qualities that make them sympathetic. NOT necessarily likable. Some examples:

Joe Lon in _A Feast of Snakes_, certainly one of the most despicable characters I've encountered lately. Yet, every time he's a heal to someone, he feels terrible afterwards. We've probably all done things, said things that we hated while we were doing/saying them, and hated ourselves for them later. Self-hatred may not be a likable trait, but it is (for me) a sympathetic trait.

Frank in _The Postman Always Rings Twice_. Who (at least, among the males out there) can't feel sympathy for a guy who thinks with his balls?

Charlie Arglist in _The Ice Harvest_. There's not a whole lot that's likable about Charlie. Still... the intense desire to thumb your nose at your current life and get the hell out of Dodge may not be an admirable trait, but it's something I suspect everyone fantasizes about from time to time.

In contrast, I didn't have much sympathy for Lou Ford (_The Killer Inside Me_), and I certainly didn't like him, but I liked the story anyway. Why? Because I thought Thompson did a great job getting into the mind of a sociopath. Very creepy.

Ultimately (to state the very obvious) you have to care about the character. Even if it is just the fascination with the abomination (as with Lou Ford).

Doug Hoffman

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