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Hot messes

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?

6 Responses to Hot messes

  1. Becky Levine says:

    I know, it’s the wrong age-genre, but it has to be Calvin O’Keefe from A WRINKLE IN TIME. And maybe Gilbert Blythe from ANNE OF GREEN GABLES. Although, if you look at Jennifer R. Hubbard’s blog: writerjenn.livejournal.com/266548.html, you’ll see some of us don’t think they grew up all that satisfactorily. :)

  2. Catherine Whitney says:

    Yawn.

  3. I like mine nerdy and neurotic. I do not dream of Fabio. That said, I wouldn’t kick Ashton Kutcher out of bed unless my husband came home. (Just kidding.)

  4. Gilbert J. Avila says:

    As an F & SF fan I like my heroes a bit on the rogue-ish side, like Fritz Leiber jr’s Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, or Harry Harrison’s Slippery Jim DeGriz, the Stainless Steel Rat.

  5. Mardi says:

    Reacher. It’s always been Reacher.

  6. See, I *love* Darcy, but can’t stand most other “heroes” of his type. I like angst and brooding up to a certain point, and it’s got to have a good reason–if the hero is just whiny or spoiled or the angst is self-inflicted, I roll my eyes.

    I tend to be most into the well-meaning guys who, if they’re involved in some sort of romance, have been in love with the girl for a long time. Something about that steadfastness appeals to me.

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