A well-written character can come to life outside the walls of his or her prescribed narrative. This was most recently the case with Mad Men’s Roger Sterling, whose fourth-season memoir Sterling Gold recently hit real shelves as Sterling Gold: Wit and Wisdom of an Ad Man, a time-traveling stocking-stuffer straight from the fictional mouth of the sharpest mind on mid-century Madison Avenue. Far from being the autobiography portrayed on the show, the slim volume is a collection of Sterling’s barbed witticisms (“When God closes a door, he opens a dress”), which are sure to sate Mad Men fans jonesing for sustenance between seasons.
The idea of a fake-memoir-turned-real-book got us thinking about tomes we wish our favorite literary characters — the ones who jump from the page and occupy a place in time and space — would write. Here’s a list of fantasy books we’d love to read by our favorite fictional personalities. Tell us in the comments section who else you’d like to read and what they’d likely write.
Title: One of the Boys Author: Lady Brett Ashley
Hemingway’s novels tip toward the masculine, so it’s no surprise that one of his most memorable female characters had the wardrobe of a jazz age Annie Hall. With short hair and tight sweaters, Brett has been both derided as a pleasure-seeking floozy and applauded for her progressive attitude towards sex. Whatever you think of her, she always attracts a crowd. Want to know how? Here, she invites readers into her wardrobe and her bedroom to find out.
Sample chapters: “How to Make Love To a Bull-Fighter”; “The No-Hangover Secret: Stay Up Drinking All Night and Still Look Beautiful in the Morning”; “Androgynous Hair Styles”
Title: Sleep Tight, Ya Morons Author: Holden Caulfield
After being expelled from Pency Prep, The Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caulfield heads to New York City, where he worries about ducks in Central Park and visits Eskimos in a museum, among other adventures. Mentally unhinged, he nevertheless is a unique voice in American literature and a paradigm of the alienated teenager. Here, he breaks from J. D. Salinger’s control to offer this advice book on dealing with life’s inevitable bullshit.
Sample chapters: “Ten Tell-Tale Signs of a Phony”; “How to Go Gray Gracefully (and Prematurely)”; “Dealing with Little Sisters”
Title: Overcoming Agoraphobia Author: Arthur “Boo” Radley
Boo Radley, literature’s most famous recluse, is more dark legend than real man to the Finch children in To Kill a Mockingbird. But, like so many characters, he symbolizes the good in people, despite the evil in their past. Here, he shows readers how to step out of the darkness — and their homes — and save the day.
Sample chapters: “Placing Blankets Stealthily on Children’s Shoulders”; “Leaving Thoughtful Gifts in Trees”
Title: Yes I Said Yes I Will Yes Author: Molly Bloom
The long-suffering wife of Leopold Bloom, the Dublin-wandering hero (or anti-hero) of James Joyce’s Ulysses, Molly gets the last word (literally) of this modernist masterpiece. In her soliloquy — rendered in stream-of-consciousness run-on sentences — Molly pledges herself again to her sleeping husband, saying, in response to his remembered marriage proposal, one of the most famous lines of the long, difficult book. The final chapter, rendered in her voice, leaves readers wishing for more; here, at last, they get it.
Sample chapters: “Coping with the Death of a Child”; “I am not Penelope”; “Blazes’s Saddles: My Love Affair with My Manager”
Title: A Stoner’s Guide to Tennis Author: Hal Incandenza
Hal Incandenza, the protagonist of David Foster Wallace’s doorstep of a post-modern novel Infinite Jest, is a phenom at the Enfield Tennis Academy. He’s also a committed (though closeted) pothead. How does he manage to survive the pre-dawn drills and still maintain a number-two ranking? This grammatically precise how-to reveals all.
Sample chapters: “A Primer on Precision Toe-nail Clipping”; “Passing Mandatory Drug Tests in One Easy Step”
Title: How To Get Away with Murder Author: Daisy Buchanan
Beautiful, charming, flirtatious, Daisy is the object of Jay Gatsby’s affection, and the reason for all he is and all he does. But she also is a deeply complicated character, amoral and manipulative, who kills her husband’s lover and then lets her own take the blame. Nevertheless, Daisy remains one of the most compelling women in 20th-century American literature. Here she spells out how to have it all and get away with everything.
Sample chapters: “Marrying Well”; “Making a Graceful Exit: Leave No Forwarding Address”; “Shine Like a Green Light”
Cover designs by Chelsea Bauch