Bah humbug! In the interests of a calm and harmonious holiday season, we at Text are taking a stand. Which literary characters are we banning from our dinner tables this Christmas? Who will we not tolerate talking to Aunty Dinah or Uncle Jeyalan? Who is not getting any of this year’s prawns, pavs or puddings?
Who, to put it bluntly, is banned from our respective Christmases? Take it away, Texters!
Lucy Ballantyne, Publicist:
At this year's Ballantyne family Christmas I’m instituting a ban on all of Elena Ferrante’s men. Not one, not two, but all. That means you, Nino Sarratore. Fernando, Rino and the Solaras—you can all back off, too. You ruin everything. You are not welcome. I could start reeling off every grave injustice against Lenù committed by a man in My Brilliant Friend, or The Story of the Lost Child, but where would it end? And let’s not forget the baddest Ferrante man of them all: the truly villainous Claudio Gatti. Christmas lunch is a private affair, and since you obviously can’t respect that, you’ll have to take your gelato and your prying eyes to a different piazza.
Stefanie Italia, Admin Coordinator:
I have just read Kill the Next One, and so the Text character I would least like to come to Christmas lunch is Ted McKay. Now I don’t want to ruin the book for anyone, so let’s just say this: wherever Ted goes, a manky possum who may or may not be real also goes. And I hate possums. I mean actually HATE them, and I don’t care that they’re protected and were here first. Who’s protecting my kitchen garden, hey? Certainly not the inner-city possums who hiss at me and prefer a carefully curated diet of coriander, basil and chilli.
Alice Lewinsky, Publicist:
Felix Shaw from Elizabeth Harrower’s The Watch Tower: this soul-destroying, misogynistic, domineering, pathologically cruel, diamond-ring-hiding, malevolent nightmare of a man has no place at my Christmas table. With a voice that ‘grated and rasped as if his throat was perpetually rough from shouting’ and ‘a dense threatening blackness in him that rose for no reason’, I just can’t imagine he’d offer much in the way of Christmas cheer.
Kirsty Wilson, Sales & Marketing Director:
Look, there’s no doubt he’d be entertaining as hell, with his charm, his cockiness and his penchant for party drugs—but one character I’d not like to have over for Christmas lunch would be Darren Keefe, the antihero of Jock Serong’s literary crime novel The Rules of Backyard Cricket. There’s a Wilson family cricket match on Christmas afternoon, and Darren—first-class cricketer, even with a dodgy thumb—would hit the tennis ball right over not only the Wilson fence but probably the Rathbones’ too, and into the units two doors down. No one’s going that far to retrieve the ball on Christmas Day. Sorry, Darren: no hard feelings, but you’re out.
Allison Menzies, Digital Manager:
I’m not fond of children at the best of times, so Kingston, the rotter of a brother from our upcoming January title, The Trapeze Act, by Libby Angel, is banned outright. He can sit outside in the car, thanks (with the windows slightly down, of course). A child who can charm his teachers and parents with only the force of his angelic smile into thinking he’s utterly incapable of sending two classmates to hospital, burning down a toilet block and torching his own face with illegally obtained fireworks is a no-go in my books. I’d be too worried that he’d already nicked the good brandy to use as a molotov cocktail! No pudding for Kingston!
Nadja Poljo, Publicist:
Protagonist Eily’s love interest in Eimear McBride’s novel The Lesser Bohemians. The bad boy fantasy of every young girl who has left home for the first time in search of independence and all the exciting, liberating things that come with it. Stephen is a handsome older man, a successful actor, a tortured soul. He makes us doubt and question his ability to love on a daily basis. A turbulent, passionate lover’s feud at Christmas lunch? I dare say it won’t go down so well with the extended family.
Khadija Caffoor, Rights & Export Coordinator:
John Egan from M.J. Hyland’s Carry Me Down would be the worst person to have around at Christmas. Firstly, he’s always eating and would probably take all the leftover dessert that I normally get to hoover up. But mostly, I’d be worried by his knack of knowing when people are lying. The whole point of Christmas (apart from cheer and goodwill, etc.) is lying to family members you rarely see. Imagine John’s lie-detector eyes on you at every turn? And what about when you compliment the dry turkey, or thank someone for their wonderful gift of socks?
David Winter, Senior Editor:
Christmas can be hard enough to navigate without literary villains from the Text Classics turning up. Renshaw from Mena Calthorpe’s The Dyehouse would be the drunk uncle. Felix Shaw from Elizabeth Harrower’s The Watch Tower would be a steroidal version of the drunk uncle. The narrator of David Ireland’s The Chantic Bird would take the carving knife to the drunk uncles. But first to be crossed off my Christmas invite list would be the mother from Amy Witting’s I for Isobel. Bad presents are one thing, but tormenting a child by not giving a present? No turkey for Isobel’s mum.
Shalini Kunahlan, Marketing Coordinator:
I wouldn’t want Claus and Lucas, the terrifying twins from The Notebook Trilogy, at Christmas lunch. They’d be polite enough at first, obediently helping to set the table. The family would approvingly pat their angelic blond heads. But as soon as a selfish grumble or questionable present (I’m looking at you, Ned Kelly wine carafe) emerged, they’d be at it: blowing people up in ovens and conjuring other horrible punishments for those in dire need of admonishing. On second thought...
And there you have it, our last word on who’d be the last people we’d have over for the last holiday of the year. They’ve been tough decisions, but someone has to make them.
Spreading peace and serenity this holiday season,
All the best from the Texters