Only one of my books does an anti-hero taking over the plot. More about that later at the end of this blog.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Why am I apologizing for having heroes in my books? I’m really not. It seems that forever there is an atmosphere in movies and books where being a hero is a liability. What’s wrong with heroes overcoming the odds for something noble? Not that I hate anti-heroes who sometimes expose problems in society. I read One flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey in college and watch Nicholson’s performance in the movie. I like Nicholson movies. Which brings me to the point. The anti-hero can spotlight injustice and inequity or sometimes nothingness. An antihero can vent against the inhumanity in humanity. It’s what Camus said about his detached character Meursault in The Stranger– that he is condemned because he doesn’t play the game. Neither does McMurphy in Cuckoo’s Nest but Nicholson is likeable in his own way. That likeability and carrying the banner of the oppressed sustains the anti-hero.
Sometimes the line: “I’m mad as hell and am not gonna take it anymore!” is truer than true. Peter Finch brings forth Paddy Chayefsky‘s rich dialogue unlocking the collateral damage from reporting the news of the day over and over and over. So, I’m not saying that the anti-hero isn’t unimportant or must be excluded. Just give me my heroes.
Or the anti-hero can be just plain out of control. Enter Jack Nicholson again in The Shining by Stephen King. Just a slight amount of foreboding before Nicholson is unleashed in the film. There are dozens of meanings behind the book which differs from Stanley Kubrick’s film which is good test it brings an individualization to the interpretation. I think all literature has an angle and redeeming value of varying intensities.
Gone With The Wind
What about Scarlett O’Hara in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind? She ain’t no hero, baby and I have proof and his name is Rhett Butler. And he summed it up on screen: “Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn.”
Dear Scarlett! You aren’t helpless. Anyone as selfish and determined as you are is never helpless. God help the Yankees if they should get you. -Rhett Butler — Margaret Mitchell
A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange. Kubrick film again. The reprehensible Alex demonstrates that our volition is paramount. Even if it is violence. Pure Anti-Hero.
Gatsby: Fitzgerald. A heightened sensitivity… Gatsby isn’t quite what he seems is he? (Bootlegger with a phony name) and is in love with a woman (Daisy Buchanan) who will never love him. Yet he feels as if he must climb every mountain for her unrequited affection. Nick Caraway reports with minimal judgement just what Gatsby and his deluge was all about.
Tony Montana a Cuban immigrant grinds his way to controlling a drug cartel. The blatant, unabashed killings and the selling and use of drugs in no way makes Montana (Al Pacino) a hero. As an anti-hero he has gained villain status with his movie fans. Nor does his desire to have more and more even border on hero. And more. His greed and use of violence is his undoing and in the end seal his fate.
Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey
“The adventure that he’s ready for is the one he gets.”
My Stuff: Time Travel Books
The Patch Kincaid Series
That ‘adventure’ statement by Campbell is so important to making sense of what happens in the narrative of the Patch Kincaid Series because of the historical timeline. History has been changed and in heroic fashion Patch throws himself into history’s timeline- ready for this heroric journey across the nineteen sixties.
In my novel about Jake McBride When You’re Dead You’re Dead AKA 1882. McBride makes a deal with the mysterious Mr. Melbourne of the elusive Nexus House to avenge the injustice from a San Francisco courtroom into the setting of the old west in 1882. Attaining justice through noble actions are a part of his journey.
When the present Los Angeles timeline is inexorably altered the quest involves traveling back to the first decade of the 20th Century where Los Angeles is thirsting for water. Our villain Neeko changed all time. Time traveler Mark McKenna ends up during the construction the LA Aqueduct and where he finds the woman he loves. ‘My stuff’ contains a historical context, a direct problem, and a hero or heroes seeking the solution with obstacles impeding the quest of restoring the world into proper balance. The adventure that McKenna is ready for in Time Portal Alpha is the one he gets.
The hero of Once in a Lifetime AKA 1927 is Charlie Russo. In the 1920’s Charlie is ready to ditch his fiancé for the amazing Jamal, a woman on a mission from the future. Along with Jamal Charlie against great odds pursues components for Jamal’s transmitter. To prevent a deadly future for humanity, Jamal must construct the transmitter, warning the Sageons, a race of the future contact, about an evil evolved group of beings called the Avegis, a contingent of which is back in 1927- All happening as the historical events of 1927 unfold.
Andy Reese lives in a world controlled by artificial intelligence, the Seraph, far in the future. This is the book I Have Seen the Future AKA 1939. Andy’s defiant stance against the Seraph causes him to be punished in an immovable suspension. He gains the attention of the last enclave of humans only a few years in the future. They send him back to contact a figure important in time, Professor Herman Geiger whom he will meet at the 1939 NYC exposition that posits progress. Important to quest is Lucy Apel a young woman prodigy who fulfills her own destiny. All the while Andy is fighting the AI from the future now having chased him back to 1939 and able to inhabit human bodies.
The Butterfly in the Deadly Storm: In the 1950’s two teenagers were murdered in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and vivid dreams of that murder haunt Catherine. How can Catherine be a hero? She is sensitive to the pleas of two souls through time. In Plymouth she meets Tucker from out west who is having the same dreams. Catherine is determined to solve the crime when a nationally known figure, TV and radio personality Conrad Ridder, is implicated in her visions. The answers lie back in 1958 when the murders were committed and Dr. Saikalateeta is the vehicle to get Catherine, her friend Roz and Tucker to 1958.
The River of Fate flows through 1968. Caroline is the heroine in the River of Fate. After contact with a psychic gypsy, Caroline’s husband Greg is gunned down by an evil prison escapee, Marco St. Germaine, from Greg’s past. With Greg dead on a street in Chicago, the gypsy offers Caroline a way back to Greg’s high school past to prevent the debilitating accident that destroyed his life. Her heroic efforts are confronted by Marco’s delinquent and almost omnipotent powers. And she is in a battle to keep Greg away from the scene of the accident. But Greg does not listen to her.
The last time travel book I’ll mention is A World Without Her AKA 2000. The character/hero is Peter Sturgis in a good marriage with Jeannie, whom he met in college. Ricardo, in control of changing dimensions, takes a dislike to Peter. When fisticuffs break out Ricardo reacts by juxtaposing dimensions, leaving Peter without Jeannie and his family. And Jeannie is married to Ricardo and is a Hollywood star. Peter with his son from the new dimension travel to Hollywood where he meets this duplicate version of his wife. They are attracted to each other, but Ricardo finds out and plans to kill them both. The evil is overcome, and, in the end, justice is served.
And now the anti-hero… and this guy will be picking up his oppositional personality award at the end of this podcast. Gordon Butts. What do you think? Does the name fit? Butts does not perform one heroic act in his immoral, selfish, ambitiousness, and reckless life. Rather, the question revolves around just what Butts will do next. You know the old saying: “What goes around comes around.”
Robert P. Fitton