Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Alter-Ego in Another Roadside Attraction

Books become my favorites in various ways. Some have plots that intrigue me, others have twist endings I never saw coming, or give me insight to places I had never before considered. I have a special love, however, for characters. The reasons I love them vary as much as the characters themselves do. I love characters who are nothing like me, characters who are exactly like me, and especially the characters who I wish I were like. These alter-egos give me inspiration for self improvement, but they also provide a very important sense of vicarious living one can only get through a book.

Last year I read Tom Robbin's
Another Roadside Attraction and found a new character to idolize. The story's protagonist, Amanda, is fiercely independent, stunningly loyal, and truly unique. She loves motorcycles, new age medicine, and butterflies (but doesn't "give a rusty goddamn what these butterflies are called in Greek.") The book is all around fantastic, but Amanda's complex character is what pushes it over the top for me. My favorite tidbit about Amanda is that she believes strongly in only five things: birth, copulation, death, magic, and freedom.

Robbins has a gift for writing women, one that not many other male writers possess. His heroines tend to be overtly sexual, but never in an exploitative way. Mostly, they are strong, decisive and intelligent role models for any reader, regardless of age or gender.

So read the book, and love Amanda just as much as I do, and you'll probably learn a little something about me along the way. Or even better, you might learn something about yourself. The characters we love and the reasons we love them say a lot about us as people. Think back to the last character who grabbed you and ask yourself why you were so attached to them. Did they have something you wanted or a trait you admired? Were they so delightfully wicked, so perfectly opposite of yourself that you were compelled to them? Finding myself reflected in literature is one of the best parts of reading, in my opinion, and I think it's important to give the story's significance extra thought. What we see, or don't see, in characters says infinite things about us.

1 comment:

  1. I read this book many years ago. I so fell in love with Amanda. She was beautiful, earthy and deep. A free spirit who no man could own but every man wanted the little she was willing to give. I'm from the generation that glorified such women and although I occasionally met women who were Amanda-like, none really measured up. Only one came close and she was so much younger than I that she never saw me in that kind of way. I will always search for Amanda but only in the abstract, never the reality. After all, the real Amanda is a two-dimensional character in a book and not in any way tied to the real world the rest of us live in.