The plot is nothing more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have dashed off to incredible destinations.
– Ray Bradbury
Jill Dearman is a writer, whose prose and non-fiction are fierce in their connectivity and fresh in innovation. She’s the real deal. And so in search of an idea for a new column, and given the astute and nuanced readership audience that abounds among The Good Men Project, I asked Jill to name five male characters from novels that stand out in her spirit – characters who right, fictitious as they are, are the real deal.
Here is his list and his reasoning:
1. TS Garp. (The world according to Garp by John Irving / 1978)
He’s a family man. It is an artist. He is an orphan of a father and a reluctant feminist. He’s far from perfect, but his ability to adjust to life, to maintain his imagination, and to experience empathy, grief, and joy, makes him a good man.
2. Jim nashe (The music of chance by Paul Auster / 1990)
Have you ever wanted to get behind the wheel of your car and keep driving? This is what firefighter Jim Nashe does, and with fateful consequences. Instead of adventure on the road, he faces a grim surreality. Nashe’s brotherly loyalty to a young crook he picks up on the road reveals just how much heart and conscience Nashe has.
3. Tom ripley (The talented Mr. Ripley, and the Ripley series, by Patricia Highsmith / 1955)
Ripley is a murderer, but one we root for to the end. The first queer protagonist, he’s determined to live a better life than the one he was born into, even if that means brilliantly stealing the life of a much less deserving rich boy.
4. Siddhartha (Siddhartha by Herman Hesse / 1922)
Siddartha is a spiritual seeker. Forced to find the meaning of existence through all forms of experience, he shows what a full life consists of. He is a lonely wave in the ocean that seeks to understand his existence, but it is only when he sinks into the totality of the ocean (metaphorically) that he becomes one with himself and with all. existence.
5. Dr Hugh Densmore (Exhaustible man by Dorothy Hughes / 1963)
A moral man in a cruel world, Hugh lives the saying “no good deed goes unpunished”. He is an honest man who knows that honesty has no place on the open road in racist America in 1963.
Jill Dearman’s new novel Jazzed will be published by Vine Leaves in 2022. Her previous books include: Feminism: The March Towards Equal Rights for Women (Nomad Press 2019), a comprehensive history of feminism from Sappho to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; The Great Bravura (She Writes Press 2015) a novel, featured on NPR and in The Brooklyn Rail; Bang the Keys (Penguin 2009) a book on the craft and practice of writing. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from the New School and is a part-time professor of writing in the Department of Liberal Studies at New York University. For more: www.jilldearman.com