Who would you invite?
A classic game of fantasy dinner parties, with a literary twist.
We've all played the game, where we nominate 5 dream dinner party guests. I was asked this question recently, with the caveat that they all had to be fictional characters from books. I thought long and hard, and finally came up with my final 5.
Marquis de Carabas from Neverwhere
Fleetwood Shuttleworth from The Familiars
Luke Rhinehart from The Dice Man
Vanessa Wye from My Dark Vanessa
Jay Byrne from Exquisite Corpse
Now, I know that my choices will not be to everybody's taste. Just like not every murdered transient boy was to Jay's. But these are 5 characters who have never left me, and who have made me want to know more about them. They would certainly make for interesting dinner conversation, at the least. Allow me to explain my choices a little. . .
WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD
The Marquis de Carabas
Anybody who carries a spare life in a box in his pocket is bound to have a tale or two to tell. In a cast of impressively imaginative and striking characters, the Marquis stood out to me as the most colourful. He is witty, bold, roguish and, by his own admission, not particularly trustworthy. I love a character with lots of dimensions. They always feel more real. He is obviously someone who considers the world and himself carefully. You can see a big change in him after his death and resurrection, proving he is capable of personal growth. Other people have interesting views of him. Richard, for example, refers to him here : "I'm wandering around with a girl called Door, her bodyguard, and her psychotic grand vizier." Another character says this: "he might even be a bit of a monster."
Now doesn't that sound like someone you would want to share your supper with?
I love a well-written heroine, and Fleetwood was exactly that to me. A very young woman, battling a series of distressing personal circumstances, she proves that girl-power is a very real thing indeed. Not only saving herself, but her friend as well, she is a woman who never gives up. I think I was most impressed by her bravery and forgiveness. I'm not so sure I could have maintained a marriage to a man like her husband in the way she does, which is with great dignity and determination. As the book is set during the beginning of the Pendle Witch Trials, Fleetwood struck me as a kind of early feminist figure, in a world which was very much male-orientated. To me, she is a character to be admired.
If you have read The Dice Man, there's no way you didn't try it at least once. Even if it was just to make some simple decision like what to have for tea. The character Luke is willing to RAPE HIS NEIGHBOUR because the dice tell him to. And that's just for starters. There are so many questions I would want to ask this man.
In many ways, Vanessa is my most challenging guest. I read the book and very much enjoyed it, although I struggled with one aspect. I honestly did not find Vanessa to be entirely likeable. I know I should. And I want to. But I didn't. There were times throughout the book where her tough exterior slipped, and we saw a glimpse of the woman she should be, if it wasn't for the deplorable Jacob Strane. I want to get to know that Vanessa. The one who survived, and the one who is coming to terms, slowly, with the fact she was a victim and not a willing participant of a paedophile's games. I was left feeling as though there was a lot more to her than we got to see, and I would like to get to know her.
Surely no dinner party is complete without a serial killer and cannibal, who was based on Jeffrey Dahmer? Well, mine certainly wouldn't be! When we see the world through Jay's eyes, it's hard to not also see the beauty in destruction. As we witness his murders, we feel the same sense of joy and delight as he does. His brain would be an intoxicating place to poke around in, in the safety of your own imaginary dining room.
Who would you choose?