I am an avid reader, you might say, one with a particular love for fiction and the art of story-telling. I admire the ability of a writer to craft a story that captures the imagination of a reader and lures it into a rich world of discovery. The best fictional stories, in my opinion, are ones grounded with elements of realism. Instead of creating worlds and ideas based strictly on the impossible, these works of fiction give us a flavor of things we recognize while building upon their possibilities. These writers have a gift, not merely for painting into the picture that already exists, but also for clearly seeing the original picture and directing a reader’s attention to those details that will enrich his or her real-life experience, for those details aren’t make-believe; they are true.
Most often I see this flicker of truth come to life in a story’s depiction of men. Writers can justify writing about men as they are or should be without the usual nod to modern sex politics because, hey, it’s only a story, after all. These male fictional characters are brave. They pursue their target—whether it be a female, an enemy, or an achievement—with confidence. They are in control of their emotions without being passionless; they don’t wait for authority to be given to them, they take it. They are generally wise. They recognize strength, for they know it within themselves and they don’t fear it in others. Men like Jane Austin’s Mr. Darcy, Sherlock Holmes, Aragorn from Lord of the Rings, King Arthur, Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird), and James Bond both entrance and inspire us. They are, each in their own way, great men, strong men, deserving of admiration and even love for the ways in which they better the world and the people around them.