Daryl Gregory Wants to Send his Fictional Character Back Out to Sea in the Hope That They'd Do Better Next Time Around
10th August 2017
There are so many characters in literature that set our hearts aflutter. But what about the ones that really rile us, that make our skin crawl or have us wanting to throw the book at the wall out of frustration or exasperation? This year, rather than tell us which fictional character they'd like to accompany them to the beach, we asked some of our favourite authors about the ones they'd happily cast out to sea, leave on the beach or drown in a rock pool… you get the idea! Who would you like to leave behind? Today it's the turn of Daryl Gregory.
See more of our Castaways here
Lemuel Gulliver made a career out of being left behind on strange beaches. He was shipwrecked, ditched by his friends, marooned by pirates… and he refused to learn. Every time he managed to get home, he’d be back in the water a year or two later. There are fast food restaurants I won’t go back to because they served me cold fries, but Gulliver hopped on every boat he saw.
Like so many American children my age, I first met him in cartoon form, in Hanna-Barbera’s The Adventures of Gulliver. It was pretty much an all-Lilliput affair. I didn’t learn about Brobdingnag or the flying island of Laputa until I was assigned Swift’s book in Sophomore English class. Most of the political satire was lost on me, but what made the biggest impression was Gulliver’s existential crisis in his final voyage to the land of the Houyhnhnms. Among those noble and gifted horses (they could knit with their hooves), Gulliver grew to detest his fellow humans. Those ignorant Yahoos disgusted him, and I understood how he felt: It was exactly like high school.
Jonathan Swift returns Gulliver to his home in a sorry state. The cheerful optimist of the first voyage has become a misanthrope, unable to tolerate human company, spending an inappropriate amount of time in the horse barns. Me, I got to go to college, fall in love, have children. I feel sorry for Lem — can I call him Lem? — and would love to send him back to the treacherous sea one more time, and hope he lands in a better place.
Daryl Gregory's novel, Spoonbenders, a story of family, growing up and loss, will be published on 24th August. You can read our blog about this unmissable book here.