So, the question I posed in my last post was this: Does Trout Kill transport you? By this I meant does it take you to a place that’s transcendent and helps you temporarily “forget” the here and the now, the “real” world that surrounds you. One book that transported me was Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. (You can find a Wikipedia link to Unbroken on my Book Recommendations page; it’s the second listing.) I usually identify with strong male characters who overcome big odds. Unbroken is the biography of WWII hero Louis Zamperini, a former Olympic track star who survives a plane crash in the Pacific theater, spends 47 days drifting on a raft and then more than two and a half years as a prisoner of war in several brutal Japanese internment camps. The word hero is used so much anymore it’s almost become meaningless. Louis Z., though, sure fits the bill: fearless, intelligent, strong, resourceful, principled and morally upright. He kills sharks with a pair of pliers. The main interest I have in the characters I create, though, is their many imperfections. Eddy Trout, the protagonist in Trout Kill, is certainly no Louis Z., but can he be considered “heroic” in the modern, existential sense of the word? The existential hero is sometimes described as the character who stands alone against the crowd; he has a will to exist; he generates a self-interpretation of himself and the world from his own experiential history. His experience constitutes “authentic” experience. He accepts his own mortality and finds meaning in the meaninglessness of finite experience. He is usually an atheist who rejects the metaphysical “crutch” offered by religions. He is fully conscious and this awareness may fill him with fear and trembling, but he acts boldly in the face of it. Your question for the day: Is Eddy an existential hero? if not, what is he?
Ghost Fingers II
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