Welcome to the Character’s Bookshelf. This is where I speculate, entirely outside of the space-time continuum and the barriers of language, what books would be a fictional character’s favorites.
It is the prerogative of the Fangirl to think about fictional characters to cheer herself (or himself, for that matter) up. When I’m in an impossible situation, I find myself thinking: “What would Jessica Jones do?” When a conversation with an acquaintance is not going well, I try to imagine that Aziz Ansari is there to crack a joke. When I mess up my omelet, I wish for Dobby by my side.
On one such evening, pondering all of my best fictional friends, I thought of Lord Sebastian Flythe. You know the one.
Ridiculously gorgeous, rich and arrogant. Entitled yet frail, like a delicate flower unable to survive the winter. I can’t describe Sebastian, really, and his mysteriousness is probably the reason I love him so much. It’s probably the reason Charles Ryder loves him so much, too.
In spite of this aura of sophistication and mystification, I can’t help but think Sebastian and I could have been great friends. If he’d been real, that is. He has a tendency to overthink things, yet also an impulsive appreciation for beauty and the world around him. The man walks around all day with a teddybear under his arm, and has named the creature Aloysius. What’s not to love, I ask you?
Literary tastes, for me, are a nice addition to a loyal friendship. That made me wonder. What would be in Lord Flyte’s personal library? For the purpose of this blog post the time-space continuum has been breached. Sue me. The idea is, of course, that if you love Brideshead Revisited and Sebastian in particular, you should probably give these books a try.
Maurice – E.M. Forster
Although Maurice is a perfectly wonderful novel in its own right, its resemblance to Brideshead Revisited and the world of Lord Sebastian Flythe is striking. There is subtle, almost invisible homoerotic tension, set in Oxford in the first half of the 20th century. I think Sebastian would feel right at home in this book although, perhaps, he would be a bit scandalized by its more explicit passages.
A Separate Peace – John Knowles
A Separate Peace is similar to Brideshead Revisited in other ways. It also tells the story of two young boys in an academic setting, albeit more juvenile. With that childishness comes an edge of danger, an edge of jealousy. But then, all love has an edge of jealousy to it.
Crush – Richard Siken
I can’t really put Siken’s beautiful poetry into words. Instead, I’ll let him do it for me.
Richard Siken: “You’re in a car with a beautiful boy, and he won’t tell you that he loves you, but he loves you. And you feel like you’ve done something terrible, like robbed a liquor store, or swallowed pills, or shoveled yourself a grave in the dirt, and you’re tired. You’re in a car with a beautiful boy, and you’re trying not to tell him that you love him, and you’re trying to choke down the feeling, and you’re trembling, but he reaches over and he touches you, like a prayer for which no words exist, and you feel your heart taking root in your body, like you’ve discovered something you didn’t even have a name for.”