Friday, September 5, 2014

When do characters/series you love start to become irritating?

Original cover
Right up front; a statement of fact.  I love reading the Jack Reacher novels.  They are superb reads covering the trials and tribulations of a man who is, by any definition, of mythic proportions.  Reacher is six-feet-five in height, weighs in around 220 pounds, with fists as hard as sledge hammers.  He's like a search and destroy weapon when he latches onto a problem.  He never backs off.  He never gives up. He as tenacious at solving a problem as a pack of wolves are as tenacious tracking down their next meal.

He's an ex-Army major out of the Military Police.  More or less forced into retirement, he now roams the country like a bum.  He usually owns no mode of transportation, lives in very cheap motels, occasionally works menial jobs so he can make enough bucks to buy a bus ticket to move on to the next city or state.  And wherever he lands, he always, always, always gets his ass into trouble apparently only he can dig his way out of in his own fashion.

Like I said, the guy is of mythic proportions.  And maybe . . . just maybe . . . that's getting to be a problem.

It's hard to identify with a myth if he wins . . . all the time.  Hard to identify with a myth if he is far superior in his skill sets to any and all enemies he faces.  Sure, all of us want to be invincible.  All of us ultimately identify with some entity that seems to posses all the qualities we do not have.  We are human.  Meaning  we sometimes win a few battles, but usually we lose the vast majority of our little ruckuses and ultimately learn how to move on and live our lives out in average mediocrity.

Think about it.

Sit back and think of all the books you've read, all the characters you've stumbled over and discovered; all the adventures you've had while buried deep in the bowels of a good book.  Now ask yourself  . . . did any of these hero-types have any frailties, any weaknesses, which limited their ability to triumph in their struggles?  Did any of them get into a sticky-wicket and wind up losing.  Even though they were the 'good' guys?  I suspect the answer is NO. Probably not.

Jack rarely does.  And when he thinks he's wrong, it winds up he really wasn't.  And then he has his quirks, his little peccadilloes, which irritate the crap outta me.  He blue-collar through and through even though he comes from a professional military family (father) and a rather European-elite intellectual society (mother).  There's really nothing blue-collar.  Yet . . . he prefers shopping in the nearest local Goodwill or Wal-Mart store for just about everything.

And then he's got this almost psychotic shtick about not being tied down owning any possessions.  So he doesn't own a house.  He doesn't own a car.  He shies away from modern electronic devices.  He never stays in one spot for more than a couple of months at a time.  He constantly is moving on.

Okay, I know this sounds like I'm complaining loudly about someone I don't like.  In fact, it's just he opposite.  If Lee Child (author) writes a Jack Reacher novel, I'm buying it and keeping it in my library as a treasured memento.  I haven't collected all of the Reacher novels yet ('cause . . . you know.  I'm a writer myself in the classic sense.  I'm piss poor).  But I'm making headway.  Eventually . . .

Nevertheless.  At some point in time I suspect this mythic-hero hubris is going to start to wear a little thin on me.  Fortunately, that doesn't look like it's gonna happen until we're to book 100 or more in the series (we've got about 89 books to go yet).

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