Good Minds Suggest: Rachel Kushner's Favorite Fictional Villains

Posted by Goodreads on May 1, 2018
Rachel Kushner

Rate this book
Clear rating
In Rachel Kushner's new novel, The Mars Room, Romy Hall begins serving two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women's Correctional Facility, deep in California's Central Valley. Romy must cope with the loss of her freedom and her former life outside the prison walls as she learns to navigate the casual violence and absurdities of being behind bars.

Kushner first gained literary attention with her debut, Telex from Cuba, and again earned praise from readers with 2013's The Flamethrowers, both of which were nominated for the National Book Award, among other honors. In light of the villains in her latest novel, Kushner is sharing some of her favorite fictional fiends.

"If you don't believe in the devil, you can at least believe in a man," says Kushner. "Here are a few of my favorite despicables, thinly veiled satans that are also full of human depth, or at least, others' projections of such."

Rate this book
Clear rating
"Patrick Bateman, of course, in Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho, which is not a book for everyone, and thank God, because appealing to 'everyone' is effectively appealing to 'no one.' Here's a perfect example of what makes Ellis' narrator such a yummy monster: 'Earlier in the day after meeting with my lawyer about some bogus rape charges, I had an anxiety attack in Dean & Deluca which I worked off at Xclusive. Then I met models for a drink at Trump Plaza. This was followed by a French movie that I completely did not understand, but it was fairly chic anyway, then dinner at a sushi restaurant called Vivids near Lincoln Center, and a party at one of the model's ex-boyfriend's loft in Chelsea where bad fruity sangria was served. Last night I had dreams that were lit like pornography and in them I fucked girls made of cardboard.'"


Rate this book
Clear rating
"Recktall Brown, in William Gaddis' The Recognitions, whose scatological name doesn't remotely disguise his Mephistophelian character, and in any case, he and his name function a bit like Poe's purloined letter, as something hidden in plain sight. Except that no one seems to ever 'see' Recktall Brown, who appears only in the shadows, wreathed in cigar smoke, and is also, naturally, a New York City art dealer!"


Rate this book
Clear rating
"This is, despite its slim length, one of the greatest and most vicious American works of art. Oh, I love it. Miss Lonelyhearts, an unnamed newspaper columnist toiling amidst profound doubt and the very real material conditions of the Great Depression, is continually hectored by his newspaper editor Shrike, who is, complexly, the antichrist, but a human one—cynical and savage, a believer neither in art nor goodness."


Rate this book
Clear rating
"This is one of the funniest books ever written, and part of its humor derives from the grief and rage of its morally bankrupt narrator, Henry Chinaski, who hates himself and most everyone else. He's agreed to write an opera libretto, a debasement brought on by financial desperation, and later finds himself in the berth of a yacht, with three women taunting him to share their bunks, one of whom is the wife of the guy who has hired Henry to write the libretto. He screws around with all three of them, but it's not his fault, because he has no standards."


Rate this book
Clear rating
"I agree with Hilton Als (who wouldn't? Hilton is brilliant) that Katherine Anne Porter's greatest artistic achievement is the short novel Noon Wine, in which a stranger with a strange accent shows up on a man named Thompson's unproductive dairy farm in south Texas, with new ideas on how to run the place. The stranger remains strange, but is absorbed into the workings and life on the farm, with Thompson and his family. One day, an even stranger stranger arrives, whom Thompson, previously a mild man, murders. Sometimes the devil splits in two, creates a murderous will, and deposits it in the heart of a bystander. At least, that's what seems to happen here, in this searing work by Katherine Anne Porter."


Want more book recommendations from authors? Check out our Good Minds Suggest series.

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Douglass (new)

Douglass Seaver Thanks for this list. great!

Doug


message 2: by Toby (new)

Toby Wells Awesome list to read, thank you for sharing!


back to top