It’s almost that time of year again. Love it or hate it, this Sunday will see scores of doe-eyed couples taking over restaurants, filling the ‘love seats’ in cinemas and walking the streets with gratuitous bunches of flowers. Urgh. Valentine’s Day is that special day of the year that makes people either turn into a complete soppy sod or a romance-Scrooge. Aesthetically, it’s not pretty; shop windows fill with red stuff and balloons and anthropomorphic cartoon animals with hearts-for-eyes. It’s tacky as hell, but it’s also fun for many people. Just like Vegas.
In the spirit of joining in the ‘fun’ part, we’ve been talking about the fictional characters we crush on. The ones that we wouldn’t mind receiving said gratuitous flowers from. The ones we might even go to a restaurant with this Valentine’s Day. And so to celebrate this auspicious day, we thought we’d share our dreamboats with you here on the blog…
Had I considered my literary crushes while I was in high school, I’d have said, without a doubt, OMG ROB FLEMING FROM HIGH FIDELITY. The reason I don’t have such a crush on him nowadays is because he’s kind of an arsehole… actually I dated a guy in high school who railed on me for liking Rob because of that fact. And THAT guy turned out to be an arsehole too. Says something about my high school tastes I guess!
Now that I’m an adult, I’ve thought quite long and hard about it. Mr Darcy is a dream, and Huck is endearingly dangerous, and Yossarian is hilarious, and Blomkvist fights the good fight, and Gatsby has everything, and Dickon Sowerby is spirited, and Mercutio is witty, and Atticus Finch is one of the great literary heroes, and Gale is better than Peeta in every way, and so on and so forth… but this straight girl’s literary crush is, in fact, a woman.
I have obviously put far too much thought into this, but if I’m going to make my spouse all jealous by waxing ineloquently on the internet about people who tickle my fancy, it better be worth it! Thing is, I can only really hang with people who give me the feels intellectually, and for that reason, my literary crush is Jane Eyre.
One of the best all-round characters I’ve ever read, and certainly one of the best-written, most fascinatingly smart ladies in any story in any medium, Jane is perfection. Her individualism and proto-feminism make me feel so un-alone, so fluttery, so boldly ready to take on the world! That’s what a crush should do, no? The whole time I was reading the book, I just wanted to say, “Jane, they’ll never understand you like I do. Jane, please don’t spend another second with that useless St John Rivers. Jane, oh Jane, let’s run away together. Jane, let me save you from that evil Mr Rochester.” (Don’t get me started… Rochester is, to me, the key villain of the story… but maybe I feel that way because I’m into his gal.)
Jane is passionate, but she knows what’s right. She is self-aware and conscious of the fact that the class-system of which she is a victim is completely without merit. She is kind and, in the end, all she really wants is a home and a sense of belonging. There are thousands of reasons why, but I think you’ve heard enough. I love Jane Eyre and I’m not ashamed of it!
I’ve fancied a fair few fictional characters over the years, but there is one who has remained in my sights. She is a total dreamboat; I even have a picture of her on my wall. I’d like to say I wasn’t shallow, that I have no idea what she looks like and that my crush is based entirely on her personality. But that’s just not true. I fancied her before I even got to know her, because frankly, she is super-hot. You know, for a cartoon. Her name is Hopey Glass, and I’ve loved her since I first read Jaime Hernandez’s Love & Rockets.
Looks aside, Hopey is also amazing. She is a punk with fondness for bottle-throwing and chaos. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. She plays (badly) in bands and is master of the scathing comeback. She is also openly queer, which is still a rare treat in fiction. She is hedonistic and outspoken and hilarious, but she is also loyal and very sweet to the people she cares about. Namely Maggie, her on-off lover and best mate throughout the whole of Love & Rockets.
Even though I will never get to hang out with her IRL, or take her out for a pint, I will probably continue to crush on Hopey forever.
This is cheating a bit as my crush did have a corporeal presence, but I’m going for the male character in Philip Ridley’s Tender Napalm. I’ve never read the playscript and I only got to see it once in Dublin a few years ago, but the performance was one of the most enjoyable I’ve ever experienced. The whole show is a literal representation of the world-for-two a couple in love creates for themselves and, in the peak of passion, secludes themselves on, away from the realities of the rest of the world and the mundanities of other people. It’s probably the most intimate work of art I know, filled with beautiful blossoming language paired with dizzying physical intensity – they run and pull and clutch at each other non-stop for over an hour.
Though both characters were dripping with brutal sexuality and I’m pretty sure anyone would have a crush on the two of them at the end of the show, I’m going to go for the man in this case thanks to his really pleasant performances of stereotypical male strength in fairly atypical expressions of heterosexual attraction – total beure.
Delphine Angua von Uberwald arrived in my life when I was in my mid-teens – the time when all crushes are the most intense. She appears in Men at Arms, the 15th novel in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, and the second novel to feature the Ankh-Morpork City Watch – Pratchett’s outlet for sending up the traditional police procedural in his own inimitable style.
Sergeant Angua arrives on the scene pretty early on, introduced as a no-nonsense, bleach-blonde recruit who just wants to get on with her job and not be harassed. But, like all the best detectives, she has a dark secret – in this case, literally: she’s a werewolf. This causes a few teething problems early on (haw haw), but by the end of the novel certain arrangements have been made to accommodate her transformation – she always pays for the chickens she rustles, and is a strict vegetarian in her daily guise.
It’s testament to Pratchett’s writing that he doesn’t really do ‘hawt’ characters. If they are portrayed as attractive (which Angua undoubtedly is), then, like all of Pratchett’s female characters, they are always the ones with the best lines, the most reasonable solutions and the biggest weapons.
Angua is a typically fine creation: intelligent, compassionate, with only an occasional propensity for extreme violence. But hey, who hasn’t felt a little conflicted from time to time? I’ll leave you with a scene from the novel, when some villains foolishly try to take her and her colleague, Captain Carrot, hostage:
The boldest of the three moved suddenly, grabbed Angua and pulled her upright. “We walk out of here unharmed or the girl gets it, all right?” he snarled.
“I hope you’re not going to kill anyone,” said Carrot.
“That’s up to us!”
“Sorry, was I talking to you?” said Carrot.
Check out all the different ways to say I love you with a book here