Good Minds Suggest—Douglas Lain's Favorite Books with Fictional Characters Who Are Real

Posted by Goodreads on July 30, 2013
Douglas Lain A.A. Milne's son, Christopher Robin, lives forever in the pages of Winnie-the-Pooh—a notoriety the real-life Christopher Robin Milne resented. Now author Douglas Lain pushes the mythos of this boy/character many steps further in the surrealist historical novel Billy Moon. Though the book takes its title from Christopher's boyhood nickname, it explores what kind of man the famous child could grow up to be. Lain's magic-realist dreamscape pulls Christopher from the familiarity of the bookshop he runs with his wife to the fever pitch of the 1968 Paris riots. It's a far cry from the Hundred Acre Wood. Known for his short fiction, including the postmodern collection Last Week's Apocalypse, Oregon writer Lain shares his favorite books that insert real people into wildly fictional lives.

The Dream Years by Lisa Goldstein
"This fantasy novel features a fictional André Breton and tells the story of a young surrealist named Richard, who while living in Paris during the early '20s, is led by chance encounters, anomalies, and a beautiful young woman named Solange to time travel and participate in the student/worker strikes of May 1968. It is not only a terrifically fun read, but helped to inspire the writing of Billy Moon. Lisa Goldstein showed me the way."


The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth
"This is the first book in Philip Roth's Zuckerman Bound trilogy, and here we find, or possibly find, a grown-up Anne Frank as a character in Roth's enjoyably narcissistic semiautobiographical novel about a young writer who has the chance to visit his literary idol at his farmhouse in New England. The literary idol, named Lonoff by Roth, might be another example of a real-life person made into fiction, as Lonoff is a thinly disguised version of the late, great J.D. Salinger."


The Remaking of Sigmund Freud by Barry N. Malzberg
"Barry Malzberg is perhaps best known for his early work in the 1970s, and his 1972 novel, Beyond Apollo, is a classic, but my personal favorite is his 1985 The Remaking of Sigmund Freud. Here the father of psychoanalysis is reproduced again and again as a simulacrum. In Malzberg's future the protagonist, an android version of Freud, is standard equipment onboard space vessels sent on long-term expeditions. An android version of the poet Emily Dickinson also turns up in this one."


Philip K. Dick Is Dead, Alas by Michael Bishop
"Michael Bishop's homage to the then-recently deceased Philip K. Dick is not only a must-have item for any Dickhead who wants to be a completist, but is also a Dickian mind puzzle of the first order. Philip K. Dick is the MacGuffin in this book, as the story revolves around a PKD fan named Cal Pickford. Philip K. Dick haunts Bishop's novel just as he haunts my life."


The Atrocity Exhibition by J.G. Ballard
"This collection of condensed novellas features several exemplary instances of real historical personages rendered as fictions. My personal favorite would be his classic 'Why I Want to F#@% Ronald Reagan,' which was written as a scientific paper that cataloged the psychosexual appeal of the then-governor. Ballard's 'story' has the distinction of being utilized in a situationist prank on the delegates of the Republican National Convention in 1980. The story was distributed as a pamphlet and accepted by many as a legitimate report on the candidate's subliminal appeal, a report that had possibly been commissioned by the RAND Corporation or some other right-wing think tank."



Vote for your own favorites on Listopia: Fictionalized Accounts of Real People



Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Ron (new)

Ron Try "The World As I Found It" by Brian Duffy--a very appealing comic novel about Bertrand Russell, George Moore and Ludwig Wittgenstein remaking modern philosophy.


message 2: by Micah (new)

Micah Francisco With a list of "Historical figures who appear as characters" that numbers between forty and fifty characters, Neal Stephenson's masterful 'The Baroque Cycle" certainly deserves a spot on this list. I particularly enjoyed his semi-fictional treatment of Isaac Newton, Gottfried Leibniz and Peter the Great. In every regard, this is a fantastic (if long and dense) read that I highly recommend!


message 3: by Suror (new)

Suror Mahmoud nice I like the history of it


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