Ben Douglass is an old grumpy white guy who writes poems, novels, reviews, essays, and short fictions, for his own amusement and the amusement of others.
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In all of my writing, be it long or short, the character is always front and center of the story. During the last 40 years I have collected 30 of, what I think, the best character novels from the classics down to modern times. I've read and studied each of them 5-7 times. A college professor back in 1978 once told me, if you want to write the great character novel or story, then study the great ones, ancient and modern. And so I have over my lifetime.
The one character novel that has had the greatest impact on my writing has been Against Nature by J.K. Huysmans. It was originally published in 1883 as A Rebours. It is beautifully written and beautifully structured.
In gold and purple prose the book recounts the exotic practices and perverse pleasures of Duc Jean Floressas des Esseintes, an unhealthy hero who resembles several of the more gorgeous dandies of the time, but is essentially Huysmans himself in the thinnest of disguises. Huysmans himself was the quintessential Decadent, tortured by that vague longing for an elusive ideal; torn between desire and satiety, hope and disillusionment; painfully conscious that his pleasures are finite, his needs infinite.