I’m always looking for a good novel or movie. There is nothing better than cozying up in bed with a book or movie with a quirky character to make me smile. (Right about now I am on overdose with dark characters in House of Cards. So let’s look at quirky in a lighter way.) I was inspired to make a list of quirky book and movie characters when the ebook publisher Open Road contacted me and wanted to create an ad campaign based on the quirky characters in their ebooks. I loved their idea, check out their list and you might even discover a new hero/ine.
I decided to make my own list of quirky and quirkyalone characters in books, TV shows and movies. What do we mean by a quirky character? Different from the ordinary in a way that excites curiosity is a starting point. A quiet renegade. Someone who does it his or her own way and shows us something we can learn from.
I polled my fans and friends on social media and referred back to my research. I present you with this list of characters–add your suggestions as a comment please and let the list grow!
1) Alma Whittaker from Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book The Signature of All Things: A Novel
2) Willow from Buffy (early Willow)
3) Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye
4) The incomparable Elizabeth Bennett of Pride and Prejudice
5) Ray Smith in Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums
6) David in James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room
7) Sarah Nour El-Din of the ravishing novel, I, The Divine: A Novel in First Chapters
8) Radagast the Brown from Tolkien’s world
9) Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter saga.
10) Yentl in The Barbra Streisand film Yentl.
Bonus characters: Amelie in Amelie!, Anton from Summer of the German Solider, Poppy in Mike Leigh’s film Happy-Go-Lucky, Annie-Marie Pugh in Very Annie Mary, Phillip Seymour Hoffman in most roles (RIP), Mark Reynolds in the TV sitcom Don’t Trust the B____ in Apt. 23 (watch this show for serious hilarity), all Joan Didion (White Album, Slouching Towards Bethlehem): “That sense of having a little distance from the goings on around you. Like Didion, the QA is often the best observer of the machinations of society.”
Let’s hear yours! Add your favorite quirky characters here as a comment.
P.S. Welcome to all of you who joined us last week on International Quirkyalone Day! 🙂
For mystery lovers:
Flavia de Luce, an 11 year old chemist who defies description – you really have to read her for yourself, created by Alan Bradley
Mary Russell, a teenager who meets and matches Sherlock Holmes, created by Laurie King (a series I enjoy more than Arthur Conan Doyle’s original)
Nice, thanks for these Cecily!
Great list, Sasha! How about all the wonderful quirky characters from Wes Anderson movies…Mt. Rushmore, Bottle Rocket, Moonrise Kingdom. Can’t wait for The Grand Budapest Hotel to open. Cheers!
Yeah! Those characters cannot be forgotten. I’m hoping we can build out a mega-list in the comments. 🙂
Max Fischer from the film Rushmore- Wes Anderson is notorious for these characters and they can be found in every film he’s made. Max is more concerned with his plays, student activities, and his friends. He makes an attempt to sort fall in-line with what a normal 15 year old boy should be but, he goes about it in such a fantastic way, that even he realizes at the end of the film that he’s happier applying that energy to his own life.
I’m a huge fan of Steve Martin, mostly of the stuff he’s written. I’ll sum up the list without too much detail and say that Roxanne has three primary quirkyalones, CD Bales, Roxanne, and Dixie. Shopgirl has Mirabelle, and The Lonely Guy, a film which is sort of the predawn take on quirkyalone.
Northern Exposure- full of quirkyalone characters. The entire show is based on the premise of quirkalone, the town is a quirklyalone character unto itself (at least until David Chase took over in seasons 5 & 6). There’s really no hint of traditional relationship drama except in a hand-full of episodes. The tension between Maggie and Joel (although may not be considered as quirkyalone as some of the other characters) is the same tension all quirkyalones face. This tension seems to expose itself to folks generally in their 20s, as they usually have one set of friends that are coupling and another set that are single and partying (being in your 20s is not easy as a quirkyalone, it wasn’t for me anyway). Maggie and Joel have this same sort of tension, the show tends to express it in a romantic/sexual way but it’s really the tension of what each character might lose if they were to actually have a relationship, the writing never really addresses what both characters might gain.
Lastly George Emerson from A Room with a View. George seems to only relate to bigger ideas with the truth being the biggest. He questions the world’s honesty in how it’s presented to him and seeks an absolute truth. It’s his feelings that become that ultimate truth when he finds Lucy.
thanks josh, great ones here!
I have many fictional life mates. I’ll focus on men here, because I think quirkyalone men are neglected. I shall try not to ramble, but here are a few:
Tock (The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster)
Tock is a watchdog, a dog whose body is a watch. He’s a guardian of time. Though wise and compassionate, he finds it difficult to do his job because his parents accidentally gave him the wrong name. His watch goes ‘tick tick tick.’ I won’t spoil anymore of his story, because you’re never too old to read this book.
Ponyboy Curtis (The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton)
I wasn’t old enough to have a crush on Ponyboy when I first read this book, but I have one now. Ponyboy is a greaser, and all the members of his gang are vivid characters. He, however, is different. He has a rich internal world, and he’s as happy to recite a poem as he is to fight in a rumble. Finding a way to honor his quirkiness is a challenge, particularly after his life changes in a night, but he doesn’t give up.
Yossarian (Catch-22 by Joseph Heller)
Yossarian just wants to be discharged from the army, but he is continually assigned additional missions. [The Catch-22: You can go home if you’re declared insane. If you go to a doctor to be evaluated because you think you’re crazy, then you can recognize craziness. Thus, you must be sane.] Yossarian is cynical, but that’s only because he thinks he’s alone in questioning the world around him. He’s also blunt and honest. I won’t spoil the surprise, but one of my favorite things about this novel is that it’s a manual for how to deconstruct an institution from within.
Mike (Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlen)
All of Heinlen’s characters are quirky, in my opinion. I’m focusing on this one because he’s the most well-known. (Also, this book has a character named Jill in it. :)) Mike is an alien, so part of what makes him quirky is that he is truly experiencing the world for the first time. Many aspects of the way he chooses to live his life put him into conflict with his new society: cannibalism, non-patriarchal polyamory, and declaring himself a prophet, just to name a few. Yet he encounters everyone with patience, curiosity, and tenderness. He’s devoted to following his own path, but he doesn’t invalidate others’ choices.
Okay, I’ll shut up now. This makes me wish I could curl up with a book boyfriend today. Alas, no such luck!
love it jill!!