On Being Tumblr

On Being Tumblr

On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.
Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
- Percy Shelly
You should focus on being more interested, than more interesting.
- John W. Gardner
I tend to think that fictional characters are in some ways more real than biological human beings. Think of Victorian England. How many people from that era can you remember?. I would say that Sherlock Holmes is more real than the anonymous people who came and went and lived and died in east London. To be a fictional character like that is not such a bad fate.

—Mary Doria Russell, in our "The Novelist as God"

Holden Caulfield illustrationLast week, we lost fiction writer J.D. Salinger and historian Howard Zinn. In the days after their deaths, I noticed Salinger quotes like this one from Catcher in the Rye peppering friends’ Facebook feeds:

"I don’t care if it’s a sad good-bye or a bad good-bye, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t, you feel even worse."

I haven’t read The Catcher in the Rye since high school, but that voice of Holden Caulfield’s is so recognizable and distinct — like someone I know really well but haven’t talked to in awhile. People have been posting RIP Howard Zinn tributes, but many don’t feature memorable quotes, which reminded me of Mary Doria Russell’s commentary about the enduring imprint of fictional characters.

What about you? Are there characters from beloved books whose imprint has stuck with you over time? Do you have quotes from these fictional friends to share?

Nancy Rosenbaum, associate producer