I’ve been reading a fair amount of category fiction lately, in part because that’s what seems to be working in the e-publishing universe at the moment. As a result, I’m encountering tons of literary clichés, chief among them the dark, brooding, tortured hero with flowing mane, abs of steel and damaged-but-still-beating heart of gold—your typical romance hero, in other words. And we all know who was responsible for these prototypes…that crazy old storyteller Homer. Nah. Despite how hunky and troubled Hector, Achilles, and Odysseus are, it was the “lady writers” who really turned this type into a cottage industry. If you think about it, there’s a direct line from Austen and Bronte to Stephenie Meyer and Eloisa James (sorry, the latter don’t rate single names yet; maybe in a century or two) and the swooning readership that fell in love with Mr. Darcy and Heathcliff when they were hot off the presses (no pun intended) was probably not all that different from the one that has made Twilight into an international phenomenon. I’m not the only one who says so, either.
But, what about the less than dreamy heroes? The Raskolnikovs and Yossarians? The neurotic and often substance abusing characters in Hemingway and Fitzgerald novels? The angst-ridden suburbanites of Updike and Cheever? I mean, sure, they’re hot messes, for the most part, and most do not have washboard abs. But, aren’t they just a little sexy too? Or is it just me?
Who are your swoon-worthy literary heroes? And, do you prefer tall, dark and handsome or short, insecure and funny?