A Look at Loners in Literature

One of literature’s major archetypes is the loner — a character who, happily or not, often goes the solo route.

Some loners are rather boring, which can happen when a person has minimal social interaction. But other loners are interesting and even fascinating. Why do they do things “their way”? What inner resources keep them functioning? How do things go when they encounter people? If they’re unlikable, we’re rather glad they don’t have a wider circle of friends and family. If they’re likable, they draw our sympathy.

Heck, a good number of real-life loners are drawn to literature — reading is usually a by-yourself thing — so they relate to their fictional counterparts.

Some people are of course loners by nature or choice, while others might be more gregarious types who find themselves out of the social loop because of betrayal, tragedy, or other circumstances.

An example from the nature/choice category is the title character in Toni Morrison’s Sula. She does for a time have close friend Nel, but mostly “marches to a different drummer” due to her intelligence, wanderlust, unconventionality, lack of empathy, and refusal to be confined to a racial/gender box during a more biased era.

From Sula to Silas: The introverted star of George Eliot’s Silas Marner has loner leanings, too, but is somewhat “of the world” until a betrayal by a close friend sends him into an emotional tailspin and hermit-like existence. Then…

Another kind of major disappointment (being jilted by her fiance) leads Miss Havisham of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations to mostly withdraw from life.

Years of abuse, mistreatment by male authority figures, and more make the brilliant Lisbeth Salander a hostile loner in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and the two other novels in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy.

And the biggest blow of all — death — makes Gauri almost incapable of love as she sheds her two closest relationships in Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland. Gauri actually deals with two deaths: the murder of someone very close to her, and a different man’s murder she peripherally helped make happen.

The self-sufficient Jane Eyre of Charlotte Bronte’s novel is like Silas Marner in that she has social tendencies yet fate has conspired to often keep her solo. Jane grows up with a family that doesn’t love her, sees her best friend die, and gets engaged to a man with a devastating secret.

In current mass-audience literature, a quintessential loner is Jack Reacher of Lee Child’s adventure series. He’s unmarried, has no home, drifts around the country meting out vigilante justice to bad guys, and then, before getting very close to anyone, hitches a ride or takes a bus elsewhere. In Never Go Back, he does get into a romantic relationship, but…

Some of Reacher’s roaming is in the West (South Dakota, Nebraska, etc.) — which reminds me that the “western novel” is full of loner types. Among the countless examples are Mattie Ross and Rooster Cogburn of Charles Portis’ True Grit, Billy Parham of Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing and Cities of the Plain, and early frontier protagonist Natty Bumppo of James Fenimore Cooper’s five “Leatherstocking” novels. Natty is only out west (Kansas) in The Prairie, but the woodsy New York milieu of the other four novels was wilderness in the 1700s.

Cornelius Suttree of McCarthy’s Suttree — a novel set in the South rather than the West — is another memorable loner. Like many of his type, he does have friends and a (temporary) romance even while going solo much of the time.

But some characters are just loners through and through, like the enigmatic Bartleby of Herman Melville’s famous short story “Bartleby the Scrivener.”

Certain circumstances almost guarantee significant solitude. For instance, some characters who would like to be liked are meanly ostracized (or they self-ostracize) because of their looks or mental situation. Examples include the overweight “nerd” who stars in Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and the intellectually challenged Charlie Gordon in Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon and Boo Radley in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

Also, between-performance solitude can be the lot of traveling entertainers — such as music-hall dancer Renee Nere of Colette’s The Vagabond and Sinclair Lewis’ corrupt preacher Elmer Gantry, who’s a performer in a way.

Loneliness is of course also felt by jailed characters, such as Edmond Dantes during his Chateau d’If imprisonment in Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo — though Edmond does eventually find a friend/mentor during his solitary confinement.

Traumatic battle experiences can also push survivors into the loner camp, as with World War I veteran Larry Darrell as he searches for some transcendent meaning to life in W. Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge.

And in apocalyptic novels where much of the human race is wiped out, some characters obviously have to become loners — whether it be “The Snowman” protagonist in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake or Lionel Verney in Mary Shelley’s The Last Man.

In a related matter, there are also reclusive writers such as Emily Dickinson, Marcel Proust, Thomas Pynchon, J.D. Salinger, and the aforementioned Harper Lee, but that’s another story…

Who are your favorite fictional characters of the loner persuasion?

(The box for submitting comments is below already-posted comments, but your new comment will appear at the top of the comments area β€” unless you’re replying to someone else. Also, please feel free to read through comments and reply to anyone you want; I love not only being in conversations, but also reading conversations in which I’m not involved!)

For three years of my Huffington Post literature blog, click here.

I’m also writing a literature-related book, but still selling Comic (and Column) Confessional — my often-funny memoir that recalls 25 years of covering and meeting cartoonists such as Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”) and Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”), columnists such as Ann Landers and “Dear Abby,” and other notables such as Hillary Clinton, Coretta Scott King, Walter Cronkite, and various authors. The book also talks about the malpractice death of my first daughter, my remarriage, and life in New York City and Montclair, N.J. — where I write the award-winning weekly “Montclairvoyant” humor column for The Montclair Times. You can email me at dastor@earthlink.net to buy a discounted, inscribed copy of the book, which contains a preface by “Hints” columnist Heloise and back-cover blurbs by people such as “The Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson.

149 thoughts on “A Look at Loners in Literature

  1. Pingback: Literature Loners 2016 » I'd Rather Be At The Beach

  2. Morning Dave, love the new blog !

    I finished Saving Simon a beautifully written book and it was my first animal book and never have read a Jon Katz one. The author is a famalier name though .
    Simon was well at the end of the book but a blind Pony named Rocky Jon wanted to be with and bought the firm later which was much smaller than his previous one, when the woman passed when 103 .

    Rocky was a free spirit lived outside weathered the storm, snow and rain and had a secret garden beyond the firm and different places he roamed around . He was 33 and lived with the lady all those years and two weathered it all. Later befriended Maria Jon`s wife of two years and Red the dog John just adapted from Ireland. Maria would sing to Rocky brushed him and Rocky enjoyed every bit of it.
    John and Maria moved in together with Simon the male Donkey, Fanny and Lulu, other dogs, some hens and sheep.
    To Jons horror when he thought all okay saw Simon attacked Rocky and hurt him severely, then it happened again.

    Jon realized Simon was doing his job protecting his females. Consulting with many friends and large animal vets realized the only compassionate thing to do is to let Rocky go and within moments he was gone with one injection.

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    • Good morning, bebe! Glad you like the new post!

      “Saving Simon” sounds excellent — though also very sad in parts. When I read a nonfiction book again… Thanks for the terrific description of what happens in the book.

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      • Could be my last animal book..if I attempt to read i will look at the ending part first .
        I will be there later in your new blog.
        It is going to be a rainy day… πŸ™‚

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        • I hear you, bebe. Those books can just be too painful, even when excellent.

          Sorry about your weather today. We should be getting that rain in New Jersey starting tonight or tomorrow… 😦

          I look forward to seeing you later under the new blog!

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          • So far it has not rained as yet..but overcast. I`ll take any of that over subzero and several inches of snow.
            Check later and was reading with interest your conversation with Kat Lib on folk music and Bob Dylon. πŸ˜†

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            • Glad the rain is holding off where you are, bebe! Yes, we’ve all had enough snow and very low temperatures. Beautiful day here.

              The enigmatic, not very warm-and-fuzzy Bob Dylan makes for interesting conversations… πŸ™‚

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      • Hi Dave..speaking of someone moving so fast like a Japanese Bullet train…she was in the other place also when no one was around.

        I was reading a book by Jon Katz ” Saving Simon”..amazing book on learning compassion from a Donkey, such a well written book that I highly recommend.

        Also another character that you have mentioned was a loner who was determined to set the world straight and out there to protect others risking her own life was ” Lisbeth Salander”.
        A tiny girl with enormous strength and compassion.

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        • Hopefully forpeace will stop by again to see that you wrote to her, bebe!

          I’ve never read Jon Katz, but I’ve heard he writes wonderfully on animals. That donkey book you mentioned sounds fantastic, and I know he’s also written books about dogs.

          Lisbeth Salander is an amazing character. You described her really well.

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          • Hi Dave I am very careful about reading these kind of books for animals have a short life as you and I both know and how we all got emotionally involved in your story of your beloved cat. That blog post generated more than 500 posts..i wish I could go back but the slate was wiped clean.

            I`ll let you know of this one, so well written i have not read any of Katz`s book,

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            • I know what you mean, bebe. It’s wonderful to read about animals in books (nonfiction or fiction), but then we have to sometimes see those animals die — and that’s very hard to take. And of course seeing the animals we’ve lived with die… 😦

              Thank you very much for remembering that 2012 blog post about the late cat who shared my household. That was a great conversation underneath that piece — every comment wiped away, as you note, by HP, which has been known to “Thrive” on doing stuff like that.

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  3. Happy Easter Sunday Dave and company ! First thought to occur to me pertaining to literary loners are all the great crime Noir detectives , in particular Chandler’s Phillip Marlow. Like all hard boiled private eyes he’s charming when need be yet anti social ,unpredictable and true to a code only he knows no matter the cost. I see Sherlock Holmes has been mentioned and while a completely different sort he does share a talent for avoiding any emotional connection with his fellow man. The name Marlow reminded me of another classic loner Mr. Kurtz ,the second most enigmatic ship’s pilot in the history of fiction, whose tale was related by Charles Marlow in Heart of Darkness. Lastly I wonder if Dorian Gray fits the bill as he travelled the world of every kind of experience without ever leaving his attic ?

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    • Happy Easter to you, too, Donny!

      Yes, so many literary detectives are loners. It can be a surprise when they’re not! I guess working long hours, being obsessive, being cynical, being eccentric, etc., doesn’t always make for a real sociable being! But, as you say, many literary detectives can turn on the (at least superficial) charm when they need to. That’s basically a job requirement for a successful gumshoe.

      I think Joseph Conrad’s Kurtz and Oscar Wilde’s Dorian are great additions to this discussion.

      Thanks for the excellent comment!

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  4. I am currently, and at last, reading β€œIvanhoe” by Sir Walter Scott – my first Scott novel. I am only half way through, but Ivanhoe, our hero, seems to fit nicely into you category. Unless he becomes much more gregarious in the second half of the novel, Ivanhoe seems to exemplify a loner. He is a man of principal, and his life is led by a knight’s creed of honor and chivalry. However, this has caused him to be somewhat of an outcast. He is a Saxon, and therefore not accepted by the Normans that rule England. His fellow Norman knights, who should be living by a knight’s code, do not. His Saxon brethren do not accept him, since he joined the Crusades under the Norman king, Richard the Lion Hearted. He has been disinherited by his own father. The only characters, so far, that accept him are two fellow outcasts, an elderly Jewish man and his daughter, as well as his true-love, Rowena.

    It seems like in literature, that a character that adheres to a strong personal moral code is often relegated to being a loner, and all the more heroic because of this. I look forward to finishing the book, and I anticipate that he will prevail in the end, win his true love, reconcile with his father, and receive recognition from the β€œgood” Normans. (just assuming). My thanks to you, Dave, for recommending Scott’s novels.

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    • Great comment, drb19810, and very glad you’re enjoying “Ivanhoe”! That was also the first Sir Walter Scott novel I read. There are loner types in several other Scott novels as well.

      I agree with your insightful observation — people with a strong moral code often are loners or partly loners, with one reason of course being that there are so many not-so-moral people around who the ethical person doesn’t want to interact with more than necessary.

      Speaking of recommending books/authors to one another, I’m about 100 pages into Thomas Pynchon’s “Inherent Vice,” which you enjoyed. It’s VERY funny, it veers between a detective story and a spoof of a detective story, and it really captures a time and place (late ’60s California). I hadn’t seen the word “groovy” for a long time until reading this novel. πŸ™‚

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    • anything by anne tyler. I think she has soft spot for loners. I can think of least three books of hers with multiple loners.
      the accidental tourist – macon patchwork planet – barnaby and all of his lonely elderly clients
      a spool of blue thread – the plucky redneck grandmother stem who feels alone but isn’t prickly weird denny and awful merrick who wish everyone would leave them alone esp abby who is annoyingly overly attached to her family but really does mean well.

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      • Excellent comment! Thanks! I’ve read only two Anne Tyler novels — “The Accidental Tourist” and “Ladder of Years” — but they both have protagonists with loner tendencies. In the latter (as you might know as a Tyler fan πŸ™‚ ), Delia Grinstead walks out on her family (for basically legitimate reasons) and happily lives alone for a while.

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  5. I always thought of David Copperfield as a loner as he is sent from one family to the next in his early years then only finds happiness with Agnes , in the end.

    I also think of Huck Finn as a loner, since the majority of the adventures he has in his novel are generally alone, though always reuniting with Jim at the end of the chapters, and doesn’t meet up with Tom until the latter third of the novel.

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    • You’re absolutely right about the often-loner nature of those two iconic characters, Eric. Thanks! In Huck’s case, he was also mostly a loner as a secondary character in Mark Twain’s earlier “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”

      As for Twain and Charles Dickens themselves, those two very sociable authors seemed to not be loners much at all! πŸ™‚

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  6. Dave, for loner characters I think one of the most interesting is Shadow from “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman. He fits the bill in almost everything he does, in fact he tries to avoid getting involved in several parts of the book, he keeps getting pulled into the story which is a common theme with loners. They don’t want to be involved but are good people who help or are pulled into a situation by one of the few people they know.

    Another loner is Batman. He is constantly cast as a solo act, a lone man against the horror of Gotham, oddly enough he always has people with him. Alfred, being the primary one, but we can’t forget the three young men who have been Robin (among other names as they grow up), the three woman who have been Batgirl (one was also a Robin), Batwoman, Catwoman (there are two I think), and of course the rest of the Justice League (this is just the main universe). He never is alone which is a very odd take on the loner archetype and I think it has changed the idea of what a loner is. We once had Natty Bumpo, a man who got by on his own and didn’t need anyone else, to Batman who keeps assistants around to use when he wants to.

    Just an few thoughts on the idea of loner as we see it in pop culture.

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    • Thanks, GL! You’ve once again renewed my interest in reading “American Gods,” which I’ve been meaning to get to for several months. Soon! You make a great observation about loners: some of them want to be alone, but life doesn’t always work that way — they get pulled into things.

      The often-brooding Batman is definitely a loner, despite having a few people in his life. As you allude to, being a loner is partly a state of mind; one can be a loner while not always being alone. Excellent paragraph by you about “The Caped Crusader”!

      As you know, even the solitude-loving Natty Bumppo periodically interacted with Chingachgook; they had a very deep friendship. And in one of the “Leatherstocking” novels, Natty even fell in love!

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      • Dave, that is so true, being a loner is a state of mind. The big difference between Jack Reacher and Batman is the people nearby are permanent for Batman. Reacher has a more fluid cast around him as he wanders. I suspect that has to do with the nature of staying in one place as opposed to wandering around.

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        • Great observation about Jack Reacher, GL! One of the fascinating aspects of the series is that he’s (mostly) the only constant. That has to make things harder for Lee Child — creating new supporting characters for each novel, along with depicting different geographical settings.

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  7. In literature there were mostly characters that were thrust into social situations like parties, celebrations, marriages, business partnerships etc. yet essentially they were all loners and only a small part of their lives were engaged in communicating. Loners were always fascinating people who lived in their heads. They were always my role models, my heroes.

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    • Some loners are definitely to be admired; a fact I wish I had emphasized more in my column. It can take a lot of confidence and mental strength to often go it alone (and to deal with social situations when one would rather be elsewhere). And a person can usually accomplish more with frequent solitude.

      Great comment by you, Claire! Thanks!

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  8. In John Steinbeck ‘s “East of Eden” one of two brothers, Cal,was a loner,not surprisingly, as he did not find acceptance nor love from those who mattered most,namely is parents. The isolation drove him to despair and made him a despondent young man. Sometimes it seems natural not to fit in. When one has no sense of self,has not established sense of home,of belonging, no family ties,the need to wander,of exploration,not being confined..all traits for isolation. Not all negative, expansiveness for deeper character development and study. Many alot more interesting as they have a freedom of thoughts,make their own decisions, live be their own rules,see life as they choose. Can get alot more done,protect themselves from getting hurt,being disappointed.The silence of isolation can bring creativity. Didn’t Shakespeare leave his wife and kids for months to years on end to write his classic works? I think one wants to get in the head of characters who color themselves loners, perhaps by choice. They can live by their own rules, the policy of conformance need not apply.

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    • Michele, great observations about Cal in “East of Eden” (which is such a terrific novel) and about the negatives and positives of being alone!

      There really are pros and cons. Certainly to write or otherwise create, one usually needs lots of solitude — as you allude to with Shakespeare. I didn’t know that about how he worked! Good for him, hard on the family.

      Reminds me a bit of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who I think spent about 18 months in an isolated writing frenzy to write “One Hundred Years of Solitude” while his wife took care of real-world things and stretched their meager income as best she could. Luckily, it paid off big time — monetarily and literature-wise.

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  9. L.M. Montgomery created several loners in the Anne of Green Gables series. Anne herself could be described as one. She was a friendless orphan girl, was passed around from house to house to work as a helper, and often used her vivid imagination to escape her reality. She didn’t come into her own until the Cuthberts adopted her.

    In Anne of Avonlea, J.A. Harrison was a neighbour of the Cuthberts who was very crotchety. He lived alone and didn’t encourage visitors to stop by. Mr. Harrison even had a pet parrot that was just as cross, and often repeated cruel and crude words that were spoken in the house. Anne eventually broke the ice with Harrison; he asked her to stop by and chat with him at times so that he wouldn’t feel so lonely.

    Anne of Windy Poplars has a character named Mrs. Gibson (I forgot her name) who is the mother of Pauline Gibson, one of Anne’s friends. Mrs. Gibson was a loner with a capital L. She didn’t like social gatherings, didn’t want her daughter participating in social gatherings, had a very negative outlook on life, and didn’t even take joy in simple things like eating dinner outside on a nice day. Her mindset was “people should only stick with tradition, and ignore fads and engaging with people.” Despite her many faults, Mrs. Gibson was still a likable character.

    In the Picture of Dorian Gray, Dorian was emotionally dead and selfishly cut himself from anything of value (true friendships, healthy relationships with women, etc). His mind was consumed with eternal beauty and other superficial things. Basil was eccentric as well. He created the monster that was Dorian, and locked himself away for months at a time to deal with his inner conflicts.

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    • Very true, Ana, about the “Anne of Green Gables” series! In addition to Anne and the other characters you so expertly described (you remember details from that series well!), I would also add Matthew Cuthbert himself. A VERY nice guy who often kept to himself. Then there was that retired captain (I’m forgetting his name and which “Anne” sequel he was in) who had some loner tendencies — at least at that latter stage of his life.

      Great thoughts, too, on “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” Thanks!

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      • Captain Jim from Anne’s House of Dreams. Anne and Gilbert named their first son after him.
        He died right before his book got published. It was like a memoir, stories about his life on the sea, things like that.

        I love this series, always have. I’d like to see the musical again too.

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      • I recall Matthew having a few associates here and there at the places he did business with, like the general store, the feed store, and the bank. And the part where he wanted Anne to start wearing more fashionable clothes like the other girls were wearing, he was a little forceful with Marilla because she was content with Anne wearing those drab dresses that she made for her. Matthew also solicited help in finding the perfect dress that he thought Anne would like.

        He was definitely shy, especially around women and girls. I wouldn’t put him completely in the loner category…maybe 40% loner, 60% shy. I’d say some of his loner attributes could probably be attributed to his shyness.

        Alrighty Mr. Astor, I’ve reached my posting limit for today. Duty calls, so have a good day.

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        • Great point, Ana! Many loners are shy, but not every shy person is a complete loner or even a partial loner. After seeing your comment, I agree with your take on Matthew Cuthbert. πŸ™‚

          Have a good day, too!

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  10. Hi Dave, and a belated best wishes on your birthday! I’ve already been preempted by “bebe” on her mention of Sherlock Holmes, and two others mentioned “The Stranger,” by Camus. I was actually more struck by one of Camus’ non-fiction books, “The Myth of Sisyphus.” Another writer whose works were popular in the 1960’s was Herman Hesse, among which was the book “Steppenwolf,” which title literally refers to a “wolf of the steppes.” It’s been so long since I read any of these works that I can’t discuss them intelligently, but in a plot summary of “Steppenwolf,” it mentions that one episode that the protagonist, Harry Haller undergoes “confirms to Harry that he is, and will always be, a stranger to his society.” Meursault in “The Stranger” is also indifferent and apathetic about cultural and societal norms, as mentioned by “Almost Iowa.” These two authors were favorites of my late brother; whereas, another of my brothers has the Reacher novels as his favorite, which must have some sort of meaning, but I’m not sure what… Of course, just hearing the title of “Steppenwolf” makes me start having the song “Magic Carpet Ride” playing in my head!

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      • Thanks for the birthday wishes, Kat Lib!

        Great mentions of various loners! I’ve never read Hesse; I may or may not change that — not sure. So much to read! I wonder if “Steppenwolf” is semi-autobiographical, given that the protagonist has the same initials as the author…

        Yes, the title of “Steppenwolf” does make one think of the band of the same name. πŸ™‚ They had some great songs, two or three of which I still have as “singles.”

        It’s wonderful that your love of literature is/was shared by your brothers.

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        • Yes, I think that that book was semi-autobiographical, although Hesse claimed that it was very misunderstood. It seems very clear that he suffered from spiritual crises, suicidal ideation, and other psychoanalytic issues in his life. Probably the book that most of us read back in the late 60’s was “Siddhartha.” I not long ago picked up a copy on sale of his novel, “Demian,” which I’ve been meaning to re-read, but having got to yet. I was on the phone with my brother the other night, and we were talking about books we’re reading now (he’s had an on-line catalog of used/old books and vinyl albums for many years), and he said to me, “I’m at this moment looking at about 10,000 books,” his way of saying that we can’t read everything that we want to. My parents and all six of us kids were avid readers from as long ago as I can remember, and it was always encouraged in our home. It’s almost as though it were a family “curse,” although a very good one that I’m most grateful for.

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          • Eight avid readers in the family when you were growing up — wow! Not a bad household “curse.” πŸ™‚ Neither of my parents were/are huge literature readers, but did/do some reading (including newspapers).

            Ten-thousand books! I think my to-read list currently has “only” a thousand or so…

            Yes, Hermann Hesse had a real counterculture cachet back in the day!

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            • At least, some but not all of my nieces and nephews have inherited “the curse,” although one of my sister’s sons worked at a Borders until they went under and her daughter has volunteered at a library for years. One of my other sister’s sons is like the rest of us in his love for reading, but was “forbade” by his wife to buy any more books; he was only allowed to download them to his Kindle. The account was in her name, so she was telling us at Christmas how she’d be sitting there at work and a series of six or so emails would arrive on her phone about books being downloaded by her husband. πŸ™‚

              I also agree with those who’ve pointed out that many detectives are loners; this I also I found out by reading many “hard-boiled” female detectives. Women who are in the police department of whatever country, state or local jurisdiction, are more likely to have a husband and children than their private investigator counterparts. The one exception that I can think of is Tess Monaghan, a PI in Baltimore written by Laura Lippmann, who after many novels finally got married and had a baby.

              One of my favorite mystery series is the one featuring Flavia de Luce, by Alan Bradley, that takes place in 1950’s England. The de Luce family is one that had past good social standing, but their estate is falling in disrepair around them. Flavia is 13 years old, her mother was an aviator who died in a mysterious crash, her father is remote, and her two sisters torment her. The older sister is a narcissist, yet a very good pianist, and the middle daughter spends all of her time reading. Flavia’s great consolation is that she inherited her uncle’s chemical laboratory and is a prodigy; she can therefore concoct just about everything in her lab and solve crimes because of this lab. She is definitely a loner in spite of her social class.

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              • A new generation of readers — great, Kat Lib! I suppose some people can overdo reading, but it’s still an admirable thing to be drawn to.

                Interesting thoughts about detectives, male and female. So very many of those sleuths are loners. Maybe it’s partly the long hours, the danger, the constantly thinking about cases, etc.

                And thanks for your fascinating last paragraph! I hadn’t been familiar with that character and author.

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                • I think I may have overstated her age, and she may be 11 as opposed to 13,which I suppose hardly matters; at any age, she is much smarter than any of us! On a much more serious note, it is interesting how many of awful characters are known as “lone wolves” such as the copilot who allegedly crashed a plane into the Alps last weekend, someone who supposedly had suffered from major depression and suicidal ideations. So sad!

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                  • I agree, Kat Lib — 11 vs. 13 hardly matters. πŸ™‚

                    Yes, interesting that the phrase “lone wolves” often has a negative connotation, when being a loner can be positive in some cases. (I probably should have emphasized that more in my post!) Everything connected with that plane crash is just so horrific.

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              • I played acoustic guitar for a number of years, but messed up my left hand/ring finger somewhat in a 2004 car accident (someone hit my car after running a stop sign).

                How about you? You may have told me, but do you play/have you played an instrument?

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                • Bummer. I hope the book was thrown at the scum who ran that stop sign. Been there, done that, so I understand how you must’ve felt.

                  Believe it or not, I have zero talent when it comes to playing an instrument. Weird part is I can name instruments when I hear them in songs. I can be like “ok, I hear a snare drum, a flute, and a bass…the bass is probably a Fender, possibly a P5, because the sound is smooth/crisp, and I notice the output is sort of low.”

                  So I have no problem recognising instruments, but I can’t play ’em. That’s one skill that I don’t share with my siblings, even though we all took various lessons.

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                  • Thanks, Ana!

                    I think the person who hit me just made a stupid, unintentional mistake. As far as I know, she ended up with only a ticket, some points on her license, and her insurance company reimbursing my insurance company for my operation and medical expenses. Whatever money was left I used to pay for my older daughter to go on one of those “People to People” European trips for high-school students.

                    Your husband was in an auto accident within the past year or so, right? It IS a major thing to deal with. I hope you haven’t been in one yourself.

                    Wow — you have quite a talent for naming musical instruments! If playing an instrument isn’t your strength, you certainly have many other interests/talents!

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                    • You’re too kind. The wife of the man who ran the red light and hit my husband last summer (the case was settled earlier this year) made the huge mistake of attempting to reach out to me with some BS about their personal problems. I won’t go into details on what I said to her, but let’s just say that was her first and last time ever calling me.

                      Most traffic accidents are avoidable. I have no sympathy whatsoever for people who speed, run red lights, stop signs, ignore train crossings, ride bumpers, cut people off the expressway, weave in and out of traffic, etc. and end up hurting themselves. I only care about the innocent victims they leave behind.

                      One of my brothers (the one who was injured in the marathon bombing) plays the piano beautifully. He used to give lessons and play at private parties as a way to earn extra money on the weekends to help with this college expenses.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • The wife of the man should NEVER have tried that. You responded the right way, Ana. Even if that couple really had some personal problems, those problems were theirs, not yours — and they should have never lost sight that your husband was the sole focus as the accident victim.

                      After the husband of the woman who hit me drove to the accident scene, he actually had the nerve to walk up to me and try to insinuate that the accident was my fault. The woman herself didn’t try that nonsense, and I actually felt sorry for her being married to a guy who was emitting such mean vibes.

                      Most traffic accidents are indeed avoidable, and I also have no sympathy for reckless/impatient/nasty drivers. (Those who talk on the phone while at the wheel get me especially angry.) But once in a while a good driver is momentarily distracted and bad things happen.

                      Your piano-playing brother also sounds very talented. I hope his injury in the awful marathon bombing didn’t affect his piano-playing at all.

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          • “Trippy” — nice! I haven’t heard that word in a long time.

            My brother was very into Parliament-Funkadelic for a while. “One Nation Under a Groove” and all that… πŸ™‚

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            • There is a local hotspot in Memphis called Club Paradise. It’s a gathering place for local musicians and people in general who are seriously into music…great place to get a down home meal, a drink, and just talk music.

              That is where I first heard the name Muthaplucker. LOL. It was a nickname given to the member of P-Funk who played the banjo. Our conversation was about Otis Redding and the Bar-Kays, and I still can’t remember how the topic of P-Funk came up. Maybe my brother or father would know since I’d gone to Paradise with them that evening.

              But Muthaplucker….wow, what a name. LOL.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Maybe the most memorable nickname in music history? It’s certainly up there! The wordplay and cleverness of Parliament-Funkadelic was off the charts (even as P-F’s music was on the charts).

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                • The instrumentation of this group was incredible. P-Funk was a movement. Their style went way beyond just writing and performing songs. So many artists of today have credited the likes of Bootsy Collins and Roger & Zapp as their musical influences.

                  Dave, when you played guitar, did anyone call you muthaplucker? LOL.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • You’re right, Ana — P-Funk was/is incredibly talented and influential.

                    Ha! Nope, never had that nickname. Wasn’t even called “Verrrry Slowhand,” in dishonor of Eric Clapton…

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      • Thanks, Ana, I sometimes have problems with posting things, especially over videos that are from years ago. I was interested to learn that the Steppenwolf Theatre Company was started by two other actors, along with Gary Sinese. Thanks for the song that brought back so many memories.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Gary Sinise is in that very small group of tactful, classy high-profile Republicans. Because of his talents and persona, Republicans wanted to use him to counter President Obama’s effective communication skills and charisma during the 2012 elections; Sinise refused.

          Sinise doesn’t really appeal to the racist, illiterate, homophobes, and xenophobes of the GOP base. You won’t find him among the fringe elements of Hollywood Republicans with the likes of Chuck Norris, Ted Nugent, Meatloaf, those Duck Dynasty people, etc. He is focused on his acting, directing, and music, and I admire him for that.

          Liked by 1 person

          • OK. I’m really mad at myself for writing a very long comment, then hitting the wrong key so it was wiped out. I too agree that Gary Sinese is much better than many of his conservative counterpoints. As I was reading your comment, I was listening to the song you posted, thanks again. It reminded me of a concert I attended back in my two years at Drake University, in which I attended a concert by “Rotary Connection,” as part of the crew that doodled psychedelic images on a screen projector. I wasn’t quite as lucky to be in on the concerts that featured “Cream” or even “Blood, Sweat and Tears.”

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    • Thanks, Roz! I read “Catch-22” so long ago I can barely remember anything in it, but I do remember it of course being hilarious and pointed. A novel I often think of when I think of “Catch-22” — “Slaughterhouse-Five” — also has a protagonist (Billy Pilgrim) traumatized enough to basically be a loner.

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  11. I’m so glad you are enjoying the Jack Reacher series, Dave! I know it’s not classic literature, but it is compelling! I really do have a crush on Jack Reacher but he would only break my heart πŸ™‚ It’s a good thing that he’s fictional!

    Did you ever read Robert Ludlum? The “Bourne” series is in the same genre. It’s been years since I read a Ludlum novel, so my memories are a little foggy.

    The loner who popped immediately into my mind is the enigmatic Heathcliff from “Wuthering Heights”. He was virtually picked up as a “stray” by Cathy’s father and was treated badly by everybody but Cathy after the death of her father. Cathy’s abandonment was the final blow! He felt completely unloved and lost his ability to love, leaving him “alone” with his demons and regrets of what might have been.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m definitely enjoying — addicted to — the Jack Reacher series, lulabelleharris! But I still have that addiction under control — no more than one of every five books is a Lee Child novel. πŸ™‚

      Yes, Reacher doesn’t seem like the type for a commitment. In “Never Go Back,” that appeared to be a possibility with Susan Turner, but…

      I’ve never read Robert Ludlum, but have definitely heard of him and his Bourne character. It’s great that Matt Damon — who I admire — has played that character on-screen.

      Last but not least, Healthcliff is a terrific example of a (brooding) loner! A VERY impressive paragraph you wrote about him.

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    • Hi lulabelle…true in real life any woman falling for Reacher would end up with a broken heart because Reacher will move on.
      But still I wish there was a real one just like him in our lives.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi lulabelleharris

      I’m curious to know whether you remember enjoying Ludlum or not? I tried to read him, but it wasn’t my cup of tea. Would be interested to hear how similar you think Lee Child is?

      Liked by 1 person

  12. – Camus’ The Outsider
    – Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe
    – Paul Auster’s Travels in the Scriptorium (“An old man awakens, disoriented, in an unfamiliar chamber. With no memory of who he is or how he has arrived there, he pores over the relics on the desk, examining the circumstances of his confinement and searching his own hazy mind for clues.”– review from Goodreads).

    Can’t leave out Melville: Ishmael is a kind of loner but he engages the world and its varied inhabitants with open mindedness and tolerance. He goes to sea to avoid his consciousness collapsing in on him (going “grim about the mouth”)…to avoid becoming…Bartleby, whose universe shrinks until he implodes. “The Incredible Shrinking Bartleby.”

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    • Robinson Crusoe! He has to be one of the most famous loners in literature, in large part due to his shipwrecked situation. Thanks, Joe, for mentioning that Daniel Defoe character — and the books by Albert Camus and Paul Auster. “Travels in the Scriptorium” sounds VERY intriguing.

      The protagonist in Auster’s “The Music of Chance” (which you recommended to me a year or two ago) almost becomes a loner type during that endless car trip he takes.

      Great thoughts about Ishmael, and about his differences with Bartleby. I suppose Captain Ahab is also a loner of sorts in his grief, fury, and single-minded obsession.

      “The Incredible Shrinking Bartleby” — ha!

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  13. Could the ultimate loner be Meursault, the protagonist in The Stranger by Albert Camus?

    Meursault is so alienated that he cannot bring himself to grieve at his mother’s funeral or be phased by his own impending execution.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Almost Iowa! My only Camus reading has been “The Plague” — which I thought was depressingly great. I just put “The Stranger” on my to-read list; your eloquent description certainly makes it sound…depressingly great.

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  14. Sherlock Holmes, also a loner skillfully created by Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Jeremy Brett is the Sherlock to me and so many others .
    Now the new BBC series every single ones is like a movie also brilliantly played by Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes .
    Then there are American movies played by Robert Downey, Jr. does not justify the character in my opinion , I did watch 30 mins of the first one and was done. .

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good one, bebe! Sherlock Holmes is definitely a loner (despite his acquaintance with Watson). As I also mentioned in a reply to a Marcus Speh comment below, a LOT of detectives in fiction seem to be loner types. It’s a surprise when they’re not. πŸ™‚

      And thanks for your take on the best and not-so-good Sherlock portrayals on screen! I wonder how many actors have played him over the years? Must be so many!

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  15. A very happy Birthday Dave, hope you had a great celebration !!!~

    And you finished The Lowland , how exiting to know that. There so many loners in the world who are incapable of any commitments or to love. Gouri was not my favorite character in the book. She could not even love her little girl and left her when the girl was five without any forwarding address.

    But what a girl Bela turned out to be the rebel with a tattoo on her ankle and a compost bin in the backyard.

    I was satisfied how the story ended..then there is Subhash Bela`s Uncle she knew was her father until Subhash revealed it to her..

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    • Thank you very much for the birthday wishes, bebe! Yesterday was a very nice day. πŸ™‚

      I was so impressed with “The Lowland.” Thanks again for recommending it, and for your very interesting words about it above! The novel is written in a rather low-key way, but becomes extremely powerful. That scene between the very original Bela and the almost-incapable-of-love Gauri near the end of the book — wow! I guess Gauri was at least capable of feeling some guilt.

      In addition, I was kind of awed with how skillfully Jhumpa Lahiri covered so many decades in less than 400 pages, with how she mixed “the personal and the political,” etc.

      I will also mention/discuss “The Lowland” (at somewhat greater length) in my next post.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The scene between Bela and Gouri when Bela saw the woman for the first time when adult was absolutely priceless. I read that paragraph over and over again.
        Best meetings of the two Bela so passionate loving and caring and Gouri left all for higher education incapable of love.So skillfully written by Ms. Lahiri.

        Also Of Mice and Men a novella written by Nobel Prize–winning author John Steinbeck. The story of two drifters migrant field workers George Milton and Lennie Small , all they had was each other .

        What a heartfelt brilliant book !

        And as you mention Jack Reacher the hobo, the drifter with no greed, no possessions his only passion is to protect the ones needed it and then leaving all behind.

        Liked by 1 person

        • “Priceless” is the word for that scene, bebe. I was trying to figure out why Gauri acted the way she did in the novel. Perhaps the murder of Udayan shut her down emotionally? Or her guilt about that police officer’s death? A combination of the two?

          It was also interesting how Gauri couldn’t love a nice guy like Subhash, after having been married to a charismatic but not especially nice guy. Still, the way she treated her daughter was inexcusable.

          Great mention of “Of Mice and Men.” Two people can definitely be loners together.

          And you summed up Jack Reacher perfectly! Can’t wait to borrow another Lee Child book next week. πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

        • I mentioned to Dave awhile back how you, jh, and a few other posters have given the Jack Reacher series such praise that I finally had to buy a few of those books out of curiosity.

          This weekend, me and hubby decided to chill and spend some quiet time at home. While watching some Alfred Hitchcock movies Saturday night, I started in on Killing Floor…just wanted to reach a couple of chapters.

          So far, I am really loving this book. I stopped at the part where Reacher was being taken to the prison bus after Finlay and those other policemen questioned him at the station. I so want to peek ahead to see if he manages to escape from that bus, but I’ll be patient:)

          Liked by 1 person

          • I haven’t read “Killing Floor” yet — I want to! — but the four Reacher novels I HAVE read hooked me from the first page. Then, I think I read each of them in two days or less. Glad you’re liking Lee Child’s page-turning work, Ana!

            Reacher tends to be VERY good at escaping tight situations. It’s not so much wondering whether he will escape, but how. Yet the suspense remains amazing.

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                • No Dave…my hubby being tone deaf…I am a “loner” in that area. Hardly have gone to any concerts so PBS is my friend. Then all the CD`s I have , one think our home has surround system and I crank up the volume when cooking or other times.
                  But, nothing compensated live music…but that is what it is πŸ™‚

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                  • I haven’t gone to many concerts either, bebe. Maybe about 15 in my life, when it comes to famous musicians and bands. (Though I will be seeing U2 in New York City this July with my older daughter.) Cost is often a factor; many of those concerts are not cheap!

                    But listening to music at home is a very nice thing! I also do that when I’m cooking. πŸ™‚

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                    • That will be a special treat going U2 with your lovely daughter. I also listen to music while cooking, and now I have a special guest visiting πŸ˜‰ I am cooking up a storm πŸ™‚

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                  • Can’t wait to go to that concert! My daughter and I also saw U2 in 2009 at New Jersey’s old Giants Stadium — 80,000 people there! This one will be in Madison Square Garden, which I think seats about 20,000. U2 is still very popular, but maybe not quite as much as it used to be…

                    Sounds like you have a great day planned! Good luck with the cooking!

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                    • This is one of the most ridiculous tour concepts I’ve ever heard of. They are calling it residency-style, which means staying in one city for about a week, and holding multiple shows back to back in one venue. The ticket prices for this tour are obscene. It’s not surprising though because die-hard U2 fans expected something like this after the shake-up in the U2 organisation, and their long time manager Paul McGuinness was ousted.

                      The 360 tour was so much better…more cities and affordable tickets. I attended the Toronto concert and shared a hotel suite with 3 other girls. My ticket, cheap flight on Air Canada, plus my share of the suite cost under $200. $200 will barely get you in the door for this tour. I’m glad I had a pre-sale code and was able to get decently priced seats for me, hubby, uncle, and cousin before the general/public sale took place.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Unfortunate ticket prices, Ana. 😦 And I guess this “residency-style” thing at least partly explains arenas rather than stadiums for this tour — multiple shows 15,000 people see rather than one or two shows 50,000 people see in a particular locale.

                      That 360 tour was definitely a bargain for you!

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                    • Dave, it will be a great night for you with your daughter ..realize how pricey it could be.
                      Just a month ago went to see ” Ring of Fire” with a friend and thought was pricey so I do realize you are paying many times more.
                      Sometimes it is worth it… πŸ™‚

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                    • I can afford it as a very-once-in-a-while treat, bebe. Some people go to lots of major concerts; one has to be pretty affluent to do that!

                      Yes, an event like the “Ring of Fire” one you attended can also cost a lot. 😦

                      Luckily, reading literature is not an expensive proposition! πŸ™‚

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                • Agree Dave…she never received the credit she deserved..I am not a big fan of Bob Dylan..He is a great writer and loved the songs when others sings them.
                  Truly never understand a word he sings . πŸ™‚

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • You’re right, bebe. Although Joni Mitchell is quite famous, she’s often put in a “’60s folkie” box despite her talent being much wider (as the article alluded to). And she is often talked about in a kind of sexist way.

                    I also have mixed feelings about Bob Dylan. Amazing songwriter, a problematic voice (especially in recent years), and a personality that often borders on obnoxious.

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                    • Hi Dave…so very creepy…I remember he was widely called out as a total creep in social media after that one …eek…that’s another thing of hero worshiping, we really don’t know anyone out there.
                      Enjoy their acting or songs and appreciate their talents and stop right there.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • “…appreciate their talents and stop right there” — great advice for fans of so many celebrities, bebe! And, to change the name of a Dylan song, I’d call that commercial he was in “Positively Creepy Street.”

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        • Bebe and Dave, I just tried to get an update on Joni’s condition, but there wasn’t anything on her website. I still remember the night when I was at summer school at college, when one of my new acquaintances introduced me to both Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro. What a great night!

          Liked by 2 people

          • Morning Kat Lib and Dave….online says Joni Mitchell has some rare skin disease. The other place had some report..but i didn’t want to post that in here..could be a speculation or simply gossip just to get attention.

            Lucky you to meet her at such an young age when she was the peak of her career with such a silky breataking voice.

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            • Good morning, bebe!

              I’ve heard Joni Mitchell has had that skin disease for a number of years, but I haven’t seen any report about what might have caused her to lose consciousness and become hospitalized. Not surprised that there’s a lot of speculation and gossip. 😦

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              • I know..and so many of them have a colorful past that could haunt them later in life. And as you know Puff Po is a leader in hearsay…not a solid source to quote.

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                • Very true, bebe! Some famous musicians don’t exactly have healthy lifestyles when they’re young, and it eventually catches up with them. (I have no idea if Joni Mitchell was that way when she was younger.)

                  Totally agree about HP not being a totally reliable source. πŸ™‚

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  16. Good evening, Dave, or perhaps nearly good morning where you are. Firstly I wanted to wish you a happy birthday for last week πŸ™‚ Unbelievably the first two characters I thought of weren’t mentioned in your blog, however with only one comment I’m down to only one addition, as the first two that I thought of were Holden and Ignatius J Reilly (if i remember correctly, you recently read Confederacy of Dunces for the first time?)

    Also, I think I’m going to have to add a Lee Child book to my list. I wouldn’t normally be interested in something like that, however you seem to be enjoying Jack Reacher so much that I’ve become curious.

    And one last questuon, I know you’ve read a few Maugham novels, did you ever get to Of Human Bondage?

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    • Hi to you, too, Susan! Thank you for the birthday wishes — and for another terrific comment!

      Ignatius J. Reilly is a GREAT example of a loner in literature. How did I forget him? πŸ™‚ I did indeed recently read “A Confederacy of Dunces” for the first time.

      The Jack Reacher series is certainly not “classic” literature, but it’s written VERY well for its adventure/thriller genre, and is often deadpan hilarious in addition to being intense and periodically violent. Also, Reacher is rather a feminist in his way, which I like! Several commenters on this blog urged me to read Lee Child, and I have not regretted it. As I mentioned elsewhere, I’m now reading one Reacher novel a month along with more “serious” literature.

      I’ve yet to read “Of Human Bondage,” but want to very much. For many months I would look for it in my local library, it would be checked out, and I would instead take out another Maugham novel (“The Razor’s Edge,” “The Painted Veil,” “The Moon and Sixpence,” “Cakes and Ale,” etc. — all excellent). But I’ve heard “Of Human Bondage” is his best. Can you remind me what you think of it?

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      • I’m not sure why Of Human Bondage was on my read list, but it was definitely the title that I wanted, and not the author, and so I know very little about Maugham. I didn’t even know whether he’d written anything else! But you seem to mention a new one every week, and now I understand why πŸ™‚ I’ve read Of Human Bondage two or three times in the last few years, and could easily make it an annual re-read. It’s one of my fave books of all time, and if you still can’t get it at the library, I’d highly recommend buying a second hand copy. You will love it.

        You’re almost selling me on the Reacher series. Does the story arc at all? Is there a beginning? Or can I just randomly pick one. And if so, which do you recommend? I read Robert Ludlum some time back, and while I can appreciate why other people might enjoy it, I’m unfortunately not one of those people. They’re too ‘male’ for me, and I know how sexist that sounds, but I really don’t mean it that way. There has been the odd book or two, and a few movies, that just shut my brain down. There is just not enough happening on a social or dramatic level to keep me interested. I fell asleep during the Bourne Supremacy, but really liked the premise, so I gave the book a go, but found it to be exactly the same. Just not for me. Having said that, books certainly don’t have to be ”classic” or ”serious” for me to enjoy them, and I’m happy to try a Child novel. Especially when it’s come with such great praise πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

        • After reading your very enthusiastic words about “Of Human Bondage,” Susan, I will keep looking for it in the library. If that doesn’t work, I will indeed buy it! (By the way, I also kept looking for “Fahrenheit 451,” which you had recommended a while back, but that novel also kept being checked out. So I asked for it as a birthday present — and got it on Sunday! πŸ™‚ )

          Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels have a bit of a story arc, but not a major one. So, unlike something such as the “Harry Potter” series, they can definitely be read at random. I started with “61 Hours” (one of the later books, from 2010), and then read the next (“Worth Dying For,” also 2010), then skipped one, and then the next two (“A Wanted Man” and “Never Go Back,” 2012 and 2013, respectively). I’ve heard the very first one (“Killing Floor,” 1997) is great, but that aforementioned library of mine hasn’t had it yet. I think you couldn’t go wrong with any of the ones I mentioned, or any of the other 15 or so.

          The books probably are somewhat male-oriented, but, as I mentioned, Reacher is kind of feminist for a loner vigilante. :-). And several female commenters here (bebe, Ana, lulabelleharris) love them. Plus my taste in novels is often more “feminine” than “masculine,” yet I enjoy Child’s writing.

          Like you, I also greatly enjoy “popular” lit along with “literary” lit. It’s kind of a nice break to read the former here and there!

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  17. I’ve just begun to read Erich Maria Remarque’s “Arc de Triomphe” (Engl. Arch of Triumph, 1945) which was also made into a feature film by Lewis Milestone with Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer – very watchable melodramatic film if you like this stuff (I do).

    The protagonist of the book, the stateless surgeon Radic, a refugee from Nazi Germany, has lost his wife to the Nazis. Living in Paris in 1939, he chooses to be a loner because his hurt and pain are just too big. It all changes when he meets a new woman and must now choose again between love and revenge…’nuff said for now. Highly readable, in Remarque’s beautiful, often nearly poetic style which is just right for the description of tragedy and love in that era.

    My other favorite loner is, of course, Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe. I’m reading “Trouble is my business” now, a collection of Marlowe novellas. Gosh, the noir. Both Remarque and Raymond are deeply noir, aesthetically dark as the night and light as hope.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nice to hear from you, Marcus, and to read another of your great comments!

      “Arch of Triumph” is such a riveting novel. Very glad you mentioned it, and summarized it so well. Ravic is indeed one of those loners sort of by choice — yet that choice has been influenced by immense tragedy in his life. And as you say, that book is beautifully written — like virtually every Erich Maria Remarque work.

      I’ve read that Ravic’s love affair (I’m drawing a blank on the woman’s name) was partly inspired by Remarque’s relationship with Marlene Dietrich.

      I must read more of Raymond Chandler! And your mention of Philip Marlowe reminds me that MANY detectives in fiction are loner types.

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      • Dave thank you also for the post, inspiring as ever & I read it’s been your birthday: wishing you (and us) many, many more years of literary blogging! – It’s no surprise that you cannot remember the leading lady’s name: the protagonist himself, Radic, keeps forgetting it! I think you just obeyed Remarque. I am pleased to hear you’re a fan of this deeply human, brilliant author who’s been rediscovered (if he ever was out of fashion, not sure because he’s so unique). Her name is “Joan Madou”.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Joan Madou! That’s right! Thank you, Marcus. And I chuckled at your wry way of mentioning the humorous coincidence of me copying Ravic or Radic in forgetting Joan’s name! (The English translation I read spelled the protagonist’s name with a “v,” but the translator may very well have gotten it wrong. πŸ™‚ )

          As you allude to, Erich Maria Remarque doesn’t seem to have consistently been given the cachet he deserves, in America at least. I think his work is absolutely brilliant, and several of his novels are among the most memorable and heartbreaking I’ve read: “Arch of Triumph,” “The Night in Lisbon,” “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “A Time to Love and a Time to Die,” “Spark of Life,” and “The Black Obelisk.” Even his late-career novel, the U.S.-set “Shadows in Paradise,” has its moments.

          Thanks for the great comment — and the kind birthday wishes!

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  18. Hi Dave … Thanks for another very enjoyable thought-provoker. Several examples of loners come to mind (there are quite a lot of them when you think about it, aren’t there?): George and Lennie, in John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”, and Cathy Ames, another Steinbeck character, from “East of Eden”. There’s Jordan Baker, from “The Great Gatsby”; she always struck me as a loner. Of course, Jay Gatsby — despite his lavish parties — was extremely lonely (lonely in a crowd, as the saying goes). Holden Caulfield, in “The Catcher in the Rye”, became a cultural poster boy for loners, I suppose. Carson McCullers created at least a couple of memorable loners — Frankie Addams in “A Member of the Wedding” and John Singer in “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”. Then there’s the very lonely and psychopathic Annie Wilkes in Stephen King’s “Misery”. Finally, as you mentioned, there’s Boo Radley. Is anyone in literature more locked up inside himself than Boo? Well, that’s it for me, Dave. I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s contributions; I always learn something (I’ve said that before, but it bears repeating). Have a great week, Dave πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the kind words, Pat, and for naming many memorable loners! Steinbeck definitely had several of them (one could add, among others, Tom Joad and Jim Casy from “The Grapes of Wrath”), as did Carson McCullers. And terrific point about some characters being “lonely in a crowd.”

      Annie Wilkes is one of Stephen King’s scariest protagonists, and that’s saying something. πŸ™‚

      Have a great week, too!

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      • Your comment about Annie Wilkes got me thinking: she IS one of the scariest of King’s creations, but why? Maybe it’s because so many of his works involve evil forces beyond human control: a curse in “Thinner”, possessions in “The Shining” and “Cujo” (that dog was definitely possessed!), telekinesis in “Carrie” and “Firestarter”, telepathy in “The Dead Zone”, demonic resurrections in “Pet Sematary”, vampires in “Salem’s Lot”, and on and on. In “Misery” there were no supernatural forces, but there was something just as frightening: being at the mercy and total control of a murderous psychopath who is becoming crazier by the minute. When we read the other books, most of us just revel in the page-turning starts and jolts and sheer terror Stephen King is kind enough to bestow upon us at 2:00 am with just one light burning πŸ™‚ We definitely get all those things in “Misery”, too, but Annie is different. Annie seems perfectly normal at times; Annie could be someone we know, work with, stand in line with at the supermarket. Anyway, that’s my theory. Dave, what are your thoughts on this? Why do you think Annie is every bit as terrifying as, say, Jack Torrance in “The Shining”?
        ps: Rereading this, I realize I’ve read a TON of Stephen King, because there’s a lot I left out!

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        • I think your theory is totally on the money, Pat! And explained eloquently by a Stephen King expert (you). πŸ™‚

          As you say, the scariest things or people are often at least partly normal; we can’t as easily dismiss them as some kind of complete “other.” That’s also one of the reasons why the fiction of, say, Edgar Allan Poe and Shirley Jackson is so scary. It’s not so much the supernatural stuff as human beings veering between behaving reasonably and behaving horribly.

          Thanks for the terrific comment!

          Like

    • This wasn’t one of Sula’s finer moments, but I did like how she treated Jude. He cheated with her (in the bed he shared with Nel), left Nel and their children, and thought life with Sula would be happily ever after. Jude was nothing more than another conquest; she dropped him with no remorse. He got a dose of his own medicine.

      Just goes to show, the grass is not always greener on the other side.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, Jude did get a deserved dose of his own medicine! Then, later on, it was interesting when Sula, for once, was left by someone she didn’t want to leave. A lot of unhappiness in that excellent novel…

        Like

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