Thursday, September 6, 2012

Curmudgeon's Corner: I Can't Help It... I Love the Token Curmudgeon

What can I say? It seems fitting that I get to talk about this type of literary character in my Curmudgeon's Corner-- the wise, old curmudgeon. I pretty much universally love the old guy in novels who says some really wise and profound things to the young protagonists. Take the premiere old wise man, Albus Dumbledore. Although he made some mistakes in the end, overall, he has to be one of the most revered old wise men ever in literature.

If I LieI started to realize this pattern this week when I was comparing my favorite characters in recent books that I've read. For example, look at If I Lie by Corrine Jackson. My favorite character is George, the old veteran, who is a surrogate father to Quinn. He is grouchy, but Quinn always knows how much he loves her, no matter what grumpy words he shoots her way. In fact, she probably loves him more than anyone else in the world. He alone stands by her when the world (including her own father) wants to condemn her. He is always there to listen and backs her up no matter what. And in the end, she is able to return the favor, which leads to some of the most moving passages in the book.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #1)This week, I just finished Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. My favorite character in that book is Brimstone, the father figure to Karou. He's not human, and may be some sort of demon-- but he is the most warm and thoughtful non-human I have ever met. I can see why Karou is so loyal to him and loves him so much-- he's always been there for her, even when she makes the wrong decision. In the end, we see how far that love goes. Hint: it's far.

The Intern's TaleThen there is Alabaster from The Intern's Tale by Shawn Keenan, an amalgam of Dumbledore and Dr. Walter Bishop from Fringe. He kept me chuckling throughout. There's just something so loveable about a highly intelligent but forgetful old man who knows how to create fantastical inventions but at the same time misplaces his glasses when they are already on his head. That may be Dumbledore, not Alabaster, but you catch my drift.

Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)Lastly, there is Death (pronounced "Deeth," rhymes with "teeth"), the librarian from Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore. He may not have been a father figure, or even a grandfather figure, but he steals the show from the protagonist herself. He putters around with a great set of one liners that made me laugh out loud hysterically. I wish I could meet this guy! He knows everything about everything and if he doesn't know it, he can figure it out. He's probably the smartest character I have ever met. And unsurprisingly, he gets the last word.

Who is your favorite old curmudgeon in literature?

Don't forget to enter these great giveaways!
International giveaway of:
1) 2 copies of Neverdark by C.S. Einfeld
2) 1 signed copy of Neverdark from both author and illustrator
3) 1 copy of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
CS Einfeld Giveaway

Prize pack giveaway (US only) of ALL FOUR of Antony John's books signed (Five Flavors of Dumb, Busted, Thou Shalt Not Road Trip, and the unreleased YA dystopian, Elemental)
Antony John Giveaway

The Back to School Blog Hop:
Win either a hard back signed copy of Insignia OR a $10 Amazon GC (Winner's Choice!)-- US only.
Back to School Blog Hop


  1. I haven't read ANY of the referenced books except Harry Potter. I would argue that McGonagall is more of the curmudgeon than Dumbledore, but I do love her ever so. I like grumpy characters a lot too. :)

    1. You are totally right. McGonagall is probably a better choice :-)

  2. Alabaster made the list! I was thinking about my favorite curmudgeon and decided to go old school. My nominee falls more into the category of most reformed. I'm talking about Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. While he doesn't impart much wisdom until his reclamation is fully realized, what a turnaround it is. A real affirmation of humanity. And each year, to get yourself into the spirit of the season, you can start at the beginning of the book and get those classic curmudgeon lines all over again. “If they would rather die, . . . they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” Ah, a more miserly and curmudgeonly sentiment has n'er been spoken.

    1. Of course Alabaster made the list :-) Scrooge... great choice!

  3. I love Brimstone as well..such an awesome character!

  4. Thank you for a most interesting post. My favorite Curmugeon would have to be Gandalf in Lord of the rings, who is always there at the heart of the fellowship of friends. Without him i do believe they would not stick together, as he is the strong indavidual that keeps it stable. He is also a leader figure and being old and wise, he looks over people like Frodo as a father would.

  5. When I hear the word, the first person I think of is the late Andy Rooney, followed by any character portrayed by Walter Mattheau in the last decade (or two?) of his life!

    BUT, while not literature per se, I automatically think of Mr. Wilson in the Dennis the Menace cartoons - not surprisingly, portrayed by Walter Mattheau in the movie!