Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Iconic Characters

Man, wouldn't you love to write a book and have the protagonist become a household name? Like, you know, Holden Caulfield, or Hamlet, or Leopold Bloom. There was a time when I thought the name was what mattered--if you came up with a memorable name, people would think the character was iconic. Rabbit Angstrom. Damn! How can you beat that? I don't even like the Rabbit books (I don't mind Updike, but I'm more of a Henry Bech man), but I keep thinking I ought to try them again, and I believe it's because of the name.

I've tried, myself. My protagonists have been named Tim Mix, Grant Person, Happy Masters. An unpublished (so far) crime novel I wrote last year features a detective named Mal Friend. But it would appear that the book has to actually be kind of good. Like, you know, King Lear. With the book I'm working on now (about 50 pages to go, I think), I decided to just forget the memorable name thing. My protagonist is named Eric Loesch--a name that is rather dull, though I used it because it's (very) obscurely allegorical. In fact, his name really ought to have been Lethem, as I was trying to refer to the river Lethe, but of course it would be incredibly lame to appear to name him after another writer.

Huh, or maybe not. Maybe I should rename the guy Cormac Lahiri, or Truman Munro, or Flannery Alghieri Steel.

Or maybe I should try writing a decent book.

3 comments:

Wing said...

Have you considered characters that go by one name and one name only? That's usually one ticket to stardom.

Wing said...

I just realized that the above comment wasn't entirely clear-- by one name, I mean last name only or whatever. You know: Hamlet, Aeneas, Madonna, Cher...

jrlennon said...

...wing...