Just finished reading 1952 novel The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson about a small town Sherif’s deputy afflicted with what he calls “the sickness.” If you haven’t read it then I highly recommend it, but it stirred up something inside of me that has been brewing for a while and it stems from notes that I’ve gotten back for years regarding main characters being “unlikeable.” Why would anyone read a story with an “unlikable” main character? I’ll tell you, fathead: because I am a reasonably level headed guy and do not plan on snapping and killing half a dozen people (SPOILER) like the main character from this book, but there are days I would certainly love to know what that feels like. That’s why you read stories with unlikeable characters, because you can walk in the footsteps of men and women who have chosen wild, crazy and sometimes dangerous paths that regular folk can’t take if they plan on being a contributing member of society. When I get these types of notes back I want to grab the person and shove their face against a TV and play Dexter, Breaking Bad and the Sopranos on a loop. I want to read The Godfather to them out loud (the book, obviously, not the film. That’d be weird) I want to scream: INTERESTING CHARACTERS CAN BE UNLIKEABLE AND MOST LIKABLE CHARACTERS ARE BORING AS FUCK!
In conclusion, read the Killer Inside of Me. Jim Thompson does an amazing job of giving the sense that you are in a claustrophobically small room having a conversation with a man with a slow, polite demeanor who knows he’s smarter than you and is without a doubt more dangerous. A man who has one fear: he’s going to laugh too hard while he kills you.