The Book Report: Episode 23: Likable Literary Villains

Welcome to a new episode of The Book Report! This week Mike and Janet talk about six literary villains they liked even though they weren’t supposed to.

Discussed in this episode: Jurassic World; Jeffrey Eugenides’s burn book; Janet in high school, again; crooked politicians; and what possibly could have been so bad about the tsarist regime.

The Book Report is everyone's favorite weekly, literary show. Hosted by Janet Potter and Michael Schaub.


  1. Say what?! The Marriage Plot is about DFW, JE, and Mary Karr? I really need to go back and reared it. Really like this series. — reaching for the Beowulf directly.

  2. Great episode! I had heard about the Wallace character in The Marriage Plot (and it was pretty obvious when I read it), but didn’t know about the triangle with Mr. Eugenides. Loved the book. Bold choice of Nixon as likable villain. He did like bowling. So he’s got that going for him.

  3. Janet scores empathy points for Frankenstein & the Romanovs.
    Mike makes an inspired choice with Nixon who, coincidentally, played a helluva piano.
    But nobody picks Raskolnikov? Come on! DFW but no RRR? He’s like a 3rd-year MFA’er going into debt and…murder!

  4. Re: Grendel–Mike should check out hot-shot 70s author John Gardner’s “Grendel,” which is an examination of 12 big ideas of civilization from the perspective of the “monster” who channels J. P. Sartre. Gardner was a short-lived literary lion back then, sort of a cross between John Irving, Robert Pirsig and Robert James Waller (!)

    He died young (late 40s) in a motorcycle accident, which may have kept him from being as well-remembered as he deserves to be.

  5. How about Count Fosco in The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. He is so charming, witty and enlivens every page he is on, as opposed to the cardboard hero and heroines. And speaking of Counts, there is another I can think of who also brightens up the story he is in by his rare but very entertaining presence.

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