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Mark Renton (Trainspotting, 1996, Irvine Welsh)
Because if you’ve never heard of Rodion Raskolnikov or Alexander Delarge, Mark Renton is probably the last of the real, classic anti-heroes before all these namby pamby whiners started posting “trigger warnings” on anything that wouldn’t be suitable for a toddler to read. Renton doesn’t care about your sensitivities, or if you disapprove of his drug-use, drinking, philandering or larceny. He certainly isn’t bothered that you’re confused at the conspicuous lack of trainspotting in the book. You should all be a little bit like Renton in allotting our giving of fucks. You’ll sleep better.
Dorian Gray (The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891, Oscar Wilde)
This is a guy who has a portrait of himself, phyically representing the decaying nature of his soul, hidden and ageing away in a room upstairs, and he goes “feck it” – or whatever expletive would have been preferred by London dandies in 1890s – parties his ass off and uses his exemplary good looks for whatever the venal world is willing to trade for them. Now before you say anything, keep in mind we’re advocating you adopt a certain percentage of Dorian Gray here, not whole hog. Full Dorain Gray is obviously a terrible idea, as even super-sybarite Oscar Wilde would have to attest.
John Self (Money, 1984, Martin Amis)
Men will always be judged by how much booze they can sink down their gullets and still make it out of the bar on both feet. Always more impressive if you’ve kept this competitive level of the sport going over a trans-Atlantic flight from London to New York, and the fact that ageing ad-man John Self can do it and keep a reasonably smooth demeanour only confirms what we’ve all suspected of Martin Amis, Christopher Hitchens and that whole John-Self-inspiring bunch: that the hard-drinking, sharp-writing man who likes massage parlours is a state of man not only attainable, but one to be celebrated, especially in these spornosexual times. Look pal, if at least a part of you doesn’t aspire to this kind of life, you’re either a talentless coward or an invertebrate. Now run along and play Candy Crush, boy.
Sancho Panza (Don Quixote, 1605, Miguel de Cervantes)
The more astute readers among you may have already intuited that an essential part of your game is the ability to play a good wingman. And while those same readers may cry havoc that we haven’t chosen Samoan lawyer Dr. Gonzo from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, please understand: it’s nothing to play wingman to Hunter Thompson on a drug-tear through Las Vegas. That’s the sort of thing you’d be up for anyway if you had half a sack on you. Watching Don Quixote armor up with collanders and serving plates, go whatever they called paranoid schizophrenia in the 17th century, and then still stand by his side and charge those windmills? That, people, is true bromance.
Every protagonist from everything ever written by Ernest Hemmingway
He’s the liver-pickling, womanizing, big-game hunting bad-ass that all us dudes living on politically-correct island wish we could be, but can’t be or people will get mad at us on the internet. Simple as that.
No protagonist from anything ever written by Haruki Murakami
In Japan, they have a word for their current generation of shut-in, anti-social, emasculated candy-asses that translates roughly as “salad eaters”. And this is pretty much every lead character in every Haruki Murakami novel, all of whom are, essesntially, Haruki Murakami. Stay well away, friends.
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