An ordinary man can . . . surround himself with two thousand books . . . and thence forward have at least one place in the world in which it is possible to be happy.
— Augstine Birrell
Yesterday’s Writing Group prompt: What character would you like to be from a work of fiction?
Whoa. This is hard. I read a lot. Like, a lot. And I read even more when I was younger, so I’ve read a lot of fiction in my life.
I love Laura Ingalls from the Little House books. When I was a kid I read them all over and over, and I loved imagining Laura’s life on the frontier. I wanted to make maple candy on the snow and help Pa build the smokehouse for the ham and run my hands over the bolts of calico Laura and Mary picked for their new dresses.
Another book that immediately came to mind was In the Year of the Board and Jackie Robinson. I haven’t read this book in probably more than 20 years, but I still remember Shirley Temple Wong and the summer she spends listening to the (then-Brooklyn) Dodgers on the radio. Her family has recently emigrated from China to New York City, and the book chronicles her efforts to fit in and learn a new language. She feels a kinship to Jackie Robinson, the first black man to play in the major leagues, because she feels they share the same struggles.
Cannie, in Good in Bed, by Jennifer Weiner is another favorite. The highest compliment I can pay Jennifer Weiner (and I’ve told her this, actually) is this: In the book, Cannie gets unexpectedly pregnant, and much of the story is navigating the pregnancy while dealing with an ex-boyfriend, a weight problem, and a difficult family. I read this book at a very hard time in my life, shortly after I lost my hearing. At the time, when I slept, I slept HARD. I would read this book every night before bed, and there was more than one morning I woke up entirely surprised to find that I myself was not actually pregnant. That’s how deeply this book worked it’s way into me. A lot of people dismiss Weiner as chick lit, but that severely underestimates her and does not do justice to the kind of books she actually writes.
Also, I basically feel an affinity for every protagonist Elizabeth Berg ever created.