Sometimes I find eccentric characters quirky and fun, other times I find them too unbelievable and annoying. What are some of the more outrageous characters you’ve read, and how do you feel about them?One of my favorite quirky, eccentric characters never actually appears in her eponymous novel, Swann, by Carol Shields. Mary Swann's eccentricities as a poet, and her bloody death at the hands of her brutish husband, are dissected by the literary and academic ghouls who are exhuming her life and work and preparing for the first literary symposium about her. Each of the ghouls is, him/herself, eccentric -- the soul-eater biographer, the librarian, the publisher -- and all evidence of the existence of poor Mary Swann disappears as they mince, chop, and bludgeon her work as thoroughly as her husband did her body.
By the end, nothing is left - not even the Parker 51 fountain pen that she used to write all of her poetry. The reader is left to watch as the ghouls begin to reconstruct what they deconstructed, and to ponder whether academic and scholarly scrutiny ever can reveal the essence of a true poet.
I love academic fiction, especially when it's spot-on about the politics and egos of the scholarly world --
and I would love a Parker 51 fountain pen -- (perhaps it would write poetry) -