The Hold List: February 2019
All of our crushes are fictional characters. But what if we actually had the opportunity to date one of our imaginary loves? Just how good (or bad!) would that first date be? The editors have some thoughts.
Hagrid from the Harry Potter series
By J.K. Rowling
There are so many characters from Rowling’s world who’d be great on a date: Sirius Black, Hermione once she’s 30 (if Ron’s OK with it), either of the Weasley twins. But if I want to feel fancy, I’m taking Hagrid. Sure, his beard is out of control, and he’ll probably smell strongly of damp wool, but he gives the best hugs, and you know he’ll try really hard to make it a nice evening. He’ll get dressed up in his best suit, I’ll bring the (oversize, low-priced) bottle of wine, and he’ll show me his favorite clearing in the forest to watch the moon rise. I fully expect the date to be ruined by whatever magical creature is hidden away in his breast pocket, but that’s just fine with me.
—Cat, Deputy Editor
Nino from the Neapolitan Quartet
By Elena Ferrante
Ah, Nino Sarratore. What shy girl hasn’t had their own Nino Sarratore—the brilliant, somewhat pretentious boy you know would love you if you ever worked up the courage to talk to him. However, with the benefit of having read the rest of Ferrante’s brilliant Neapolitan novels, I know what lurks behind Nino’s appealing exterior. And ladies, he’s not worth any of our time. So this Valentine’s Day, I’ll take one for the team. I’ll go on a date with Nino and let him talk at me and think that I’m falling for his “more brilliant than you” act. And then, after I’ve gained his trust and made him think he’s gained a new acolyte-admirer, I’ll stomp on his heart on behalf of bookish girls everywhere.
—Savanna, Editorial Assistant
Leonard from The Marriage Plot
By Jeffrey Eugenides
Listen, I know he’s trouble. But I am in love with Leonard Bankhead. I love his brilliance, his passion, his intensity and his dark and terrible understanding of the world. If Leonard met me, he would realize that we were meant to be together. No one understands him like I do. Leonard and I are going to a dive bar, we’re getting shots of whiskey, and I don’t care what my mother says about it. We’ll talk about our favorite books and how messed up everything is. We’ll get into a heated argument about if reality television has any worth (it does, and I will introduce him to “Vanderpump Rules,” which he will admit to loving). Later, his career on track, he’ll name a type of algae after the color of my eyes: mud.
—Lily, Associate Editor
Matsu from The Samurai’s Garden
By Gail Tsukiyama
For intelligence and thoughtfulness, I’d turn to the devoted gardener from Tsukiyama’s tender, melancholy second novel, set in 1937. In this story about gracefully weathering loneliness and sorrow, Matsu tends his exquisite garden and frequently journeys to a leper colony, where he continues to care for his beloved. But readers only ever see Matsu through the eyes of Chinese student Stephen, and this gentle man deserves to rise above his secondary-character status. He’s such a classic kind of man that I’d love to see his reaction to a contemporary art museum some summer afternoon. Assuming that I’ve learned to speak Japanese for the date, it would be nice to walk silently through a gallery and debrief afterward.
—Cat, Deputy Editor
Lilliet from The Queen of the Night
By Alexander Chee
James Bond, Holly Golightly, Jay Gatsby—how much fun would it be to go on a first date (but probably not a second) with one of fiction’s most notorious partiers? For glitz, glamour, scandal and an all-around epic night on the town, it would be hard to beat a visit to 19th-century Paris for a decadent costume party with soprano Lilliet Berne. In Chee’s second novel, Lilliet is a woman of many secrets—too many for a long-term relationship—and drama swirls around her to an improbable degree. But dressed in a fabulous costume and swathed in dazzling jewels—and with the possibility of dramatic escapes and scheming aristocrats—an evening spent with this rags-to-riches diva would be quite an adventure.
—Hilli, Assistant Editor
This article was originally published in the February 2019 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.