Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The ten best underdogs in literature

Gavin Extence was born in 1982 and grew up in the interestingly named village of Swineshead, England. From the ages of 5-11, he enjoyed a brief but illustrious career as a chess player, winning numerous national championships and travelling to Moscow and St Petersburg to pit his wits against the finest young minds in Russia. He won only one game.

In his first novel, The Universe Versus Alex Woods, epileptic teen Alex Woods is a target of bullies ... and at least one object from space. (He became a national celebrity at age 10 when he was hit by a meteorite.) What reader wouldn't pull for the kid?

For Publishers Weekly, Extence named ten of the best underdogs in literature, including:
Captain John Yossarian, Catch-22 – The perennial victim of Catch-22. In order to escape the horrors of World War Two, Yossarian has to request that the army’s psychiatrists discharge him on the grounds of insanity. The only problem is that any such request will be viewed as incontrovertible proof of his sanity, as you’d have to be insane not to make the request. After 500 pages of vicious circles, this is another book with an ending that is simply sublime.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Catch-22 is among Lee Camp's five top books on political satire, Shalom Auslander's top ten comic tragedies, Jim Lehrer's 6 favorite 20th century novels, Charles Glass's five books on Americans abroad, Avi Steinberg's six books every prison should stock, Patrick Hennessey's six books to take to war, Jasper Fforde's five most important books, Thomas E. Ricks' top ten books about U.S. military history, and Antony Beevor's five best works of fiction about World War II. While it disappointed Nick Hornby upon rereading, it made Cracked magazine's "Wit Lit 101: Five Classic Novels That Bring the Funny." Joseph Heller is one of five authors who inspired William Boyd.

--Marshal Zeringue