For me to love a book, it must have a strong and compassionate narrator. Preferably, female. She must have equal measures of heart and brain, with neither outweighing the actions of the other—for long. The book must also have a credible villain putting the protagonist in some dire peril. The fun of a novel is finding out what she does about it.
Remember Scarlett O’Hara when the carpetbagger invaded Tara? A shotgun to the face!
Splatter, splatter. That’s my kind of heroine.
Yesterday, I watched a movie called Unbroken. I heard the book, an autobiography, was wonderful. It was the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner and World War Two hero. But the reviews on the movie, directed by Angelina Jolie, had been lukewarm.
Now, I know why. For one thing, in the movie, Mr. Zamperini was a cardboard hero. After spending years under the heel of a Japanese prison camp director, the actor playing Mr. Zamperini still had a cool haircut and just a bit of facial scruff. Sort of looked like a young Frank Sinatra with a few bruises and dirt on his face.
And not since those old war propaganda films has a villain been as lame as the Japanese officer running the camp. Nasty and weak. Malicious beyond need. Melodramatically despicable. At times, I think his lip actually curled.
In an earlier blog, I did an interview with Shanty Gold’s villain, Shiv McGraw. Now Shiv was evil for sure, but he had scars all over his upper torso from someone putting out cigarettes on his shoulders. Poor guy. Maybe that’s why he was so consummately evil.
Your question of the day is this: did Mary Boland pity him enough to pass on the opportunity to kill the bastard when the stiletto was in her hand? Ha ha. You’ll have to read the book to find out.
Leave me a comment about your favorite literary or movie villain, please. Does anyone out there remember Richard Widmark when he pushed the old lady in the wheelchair down the steps? Now, there was a bad guy.
If I should ever be lucky enough to have Shanty Gold made into a movie, remind me not to let Angelina direct it.
Jeanne Charters writes about the business of living your life to the fullest. Over the years through her magazine columns, books and blog posts, she has sought to help other women face life's challenges through humor, strength and perseverance.
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