This week’s Top Ten Tuesday subject, courtesy of the fine folks at the Broke and the Bookish, is to list the ten literary figures, fictional or real, we’d like to know. I’ve stuck with real, and limited myself to those I’d like to meet for a couple of reasons. Mainly, I chose no fictional characters, because I think everything we need to or want to know about our literary heroes is there on the page. If the author has done their job, everything we want to know about these characters is before us, and we get to fill in the rest ourselves. When I’m reading about Joe Pitt, for example, I imagine he listens to Television, or the Voidoids. Do I really want to risk discovering he kicks back to the Captain and Tennile?
I also played fast and loose with the definition of “Literary.” As long as they had published a book, they made my list. Doing so allowed me to bring in the people I think would be most interesting to talk to, on a variety of subjects. I’m not sure they’d play well together at a dinner party, but they certainly would be interesting to talk to.
First up is the heavyweight champion of modern popular fiction, Stephen King. Stephen is passionate about writing and literature, movies, music, education, politics, and pretty much any other subject you’d care to throw at him. He can hold court on the genius of Salman Rushdie as well as he can appreciate the vulgar joy of the Cramps. And what writer or aspiring writer wouldn’t want to pick that brain?
Next is Chuck Klosterman, essayist and raconteur par excellence. Listen to his appearance on Aisha Tyler’s Girl on Guy podcast and tell me he wouldn’t be fun to share a beer with.
Third is Neil DeGrasse Tyson, because the man can expound on the vast complex, nature of space, then opine on the aesthetically pleasing shape of the original Starship Enterprise.
Fourth is Steve Martin, a legendary comedian, talented author, and skillful dramatist. Hearing about adapting Cyrano de Bergerac into Roxanne, or developing Picasso at the Lapin Agile would make for an interesting conversation, not to mention stories around all the films in which he’s performed.
At five is Ray Bradbury, by far the most daunting person on this list, but not because he’s no longer with us. Bradbury’s Stories collection was the first book for adults I read when I was eight, and I adore everything he’s written. Luckily he was a gregarious and loquacious man, so he could carry the conversation, while I sit by and revel in his words.
Six is Sarah Vowell, shamefully the only woman on this list. I’ve been a fan of hers for years, and conversing with her about any subject would be a pleasure.
Seventh is Vincent Price, who squeaks on this list having written a cookbook in the 1960’s. And a surprisingly good cookbook at that. Price is one of my favorite actors, worked with some of the great actors and directors of world cinema, and was a passionate collector of art. It doesn’t hurt matters that whatever he talked about would be coming out in those stentorian tones.
Eighth is Stephen Sondheim, who is of course, a genius. Sondheim knows how to expose, develop, and transform your understanding of a character in the course of a five minute song, a feat of magic he’s performed countless times. Even talking with him about how he makes that magic happen, I could never learn to replicate that trick, but it would be fun to hear him try and explain.
The penultimate name on my list is the inimitable Bruce Campbell. He’s published two books, so I get to list him. He was around at the start of the careers of the Coen Brothers and Sam Raimi, and learned with them the nuts and bolts of going from shooting on home video in your parent’s back yard to multiplexes worldwide.
And finally, Keith Richards. If you haven’t read his autobiography, Life, you should do so as soon as you finish reading this post. He turns a phrase with the wicked elegance of Oscar Wilde, and has as much use for filters on his thoughts as he has for filters on his cigarettes. These are stories from a man who should have died years ago from so many of the misadventures chronicled here. And the stories in there are the ones he felt were fit to print.
Those are the ten I would pick, I have no doubt I’ll think of hundreds more once I post this, particularly after reading some of your lists. Let me know who you’d like to meet, I can’t wait to see who you pick.