My Favorite Villian

I hadn’t thought about Hector P. Valenti, Star of Stage and Screen, since the last time I read one of the Lyle the Crocodile books to our children. Given that our youngest is 26, it has been a while. Husband mentioned him the other day as one of his favorite literary villians.

The House on East 88th Street by Bernard Waber was one of the first books I read all by myself as a child. I loved the water colors and the storyline, about Lyle the Crocodile, a caviar swilling reptile who is abandoned by his owner Hector, a down and out performer, and who becomes a beloved member of a human household in New York City. In all the Lyle books, Mr. Valenti tries to get Lyle back into show business with him in various nefarious ways, only to have virtue and love win out in the end. I just reread The House on East 88th Street, and it is a fresh and lovely as when I first read it in 1963. Hector is a good villain indeed.

Who are your favorite literary villains? What children’s books would you like to read again? What is your opinion of Turkish Caviar?

31 thoughts on “My Favorite Villian”

  1. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    This is an pertinent question today with the emergence of a real life, malevolent villain here in the real world. I am listening to the news which is displacing my memories of literary villains. But maybe by this evening I will produce one.

    My favorite children’s books were always the “Little House” books that chronicled frontier life so closer to where I lived. I had so much difficulty learning to read after having a really anxiety-producing kindergarten experience. It took several years to be able to concentrate on reading. My mother rose to this occasion though. She brought home the Ingalls books and read to me nightly until, during my second and third grade years, I finally got it. I loved the third grade reader, “If I Were Going” about the various parts of the world. That prompted me to read and gave me the travel bug.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. I looked up literary villians for a little help, since all I could come up with was Sherlock’s nemesis Moriarty. Nurse Ratched is right up there in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. And there’s Hal in 2001, A Space Odyssey.

    I’d love to re-read some of Astrid Lindgren – Ronia the Robber’s Daughter and The Brothers Lionheart. Maybe The Chronicles of Narnia… will keep thinking.

    My opinion of Turkish caviar is that I’d like to taste some.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. This reminds me of a program I had in Washington DC once. My hotel contact let me know that our final night dinner was scheduled in the Borgia Room. Personally I would not be that excited about having a final night meal in a room named after a famous poisoner (although history is still weighing whether this is true or not). Nobody on my team had any idea what I was talking about.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. We have Moriarty’s in the neighborhood too. Along with the Mahoney’s and Lawlers, the area is roughly known as “Irish Ridge” and used to be considered a dividing line between the Catholics and the Lutherans North of there.

    Megamind is the villian in the movie ‘Megamind’. He’s fun. Gru, from the ‘Despicable Me’ movies is fun. Good call on Nurse Ratchet and HAL.

    The best villains have redeemable qualities, don’t they? It’s hard to like a character that doesn’t have anything going for them. I can’t come up with any examples, it just seems like it should be true.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. while I was home recuperating I was watching some Quinten Tarantino movies. Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill 1 & 2, and Inglorious Bast**ds. Not sure who was the villain in Kill Bill. Or I B. Or Pulp Fiction either! But they are fun characters!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Lately, when doing the Quordle and Wordle puzzles, I’ve been using words inspired by current events as my first guess. I’ve used such words as peace, bombs, tanks,smoke, crime and chaos with mixed results in terms of solving the puzzle. I used one of those words in today’s Wordle and it worked out just tine.
    Wordle 250 2/6*

    ⬜⬜🟩🟩🟩
    🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I’ve rejected the idea of using the same word every day, not because it improves my score, but because I like to surprise and entertain myself. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

  5. I can’t say I have a favorite literary villain. If they are villains, they pretty much don’t make my “favorite” list – pretty much by definition.

    Children’s books…. lay `em on me. I have a pretty good collection and on gray/rough days (which I’ve had too many of the last couple of weeks), I pick a good one. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Voyage to the Bunny Planet, Jamberry, Toot & Puddles… just a few. Any of my Tomie diPaola collection.

    Turkish caviar? Just say no.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I wouldn’t mind re-reading “Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls.

    I agree with Ben that Gru is a wonderfully lovable villain.

    Any book with bullies getting their due works for me. Bullies are the worst sort of villain. I always wonder what happened to them to make them so mean, and how could they be changed back into kind humans with loving hearts.

    I have always loved books with dogs or horses as prominent characters. One of the first book series I read was the Black Stallion by Walter Farley. I also loved “Charlotte’s Web” and local author Helen Hoover’s books, “The Gift of the Deer,” and others. I wrote a letter to Mrs. Hoover and she wrote back to me. I have that letter somewhere – I think it is folded between the pages of my copy of “The Gift of the Deer.”

    Right now our real-life villains seem to have a lot of power. As Americans, we have had very little actual war on our own soil. We go through our lives with such complacency and the true pain of war is always in the distance. The past five or six years has shown me that we can really no longer be complacent. We can’t take our freedom and our powerful country for granted anymore. I admit to being afraid. I wish I didn’t feel this way but I do.

    I have tried caviar once. I don’t remember what kind it was. I was not a fan.

    It’s snowing here.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I’ve never had Turkish caviar, but, as you can imagine, I’ve consumed my share of Russian caviar. But I’d certainly be open to trying Turkish. I imagine all caviar to be outlandishly expensive, and if that’s the case, there are other things I’d rather have.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I’ve never tried Turkish caviar (nor will I, being vegan), but I do like Turkish Delight. The kind with rosewater and pistachio is very nice! I even like the kind covered in chocolate that they sell at Irish on Grand.

    My landlady is rereading Susan Cooper’s “Dark is Rising” series, and I asked her to lend them to me when she’s done; I remember liking them when I was around 12, but the plot is hazy. Something to do with Arthur, that’s all I remember, which I suppose is enough. I might (re)read L’Engel’s Time Quintet one of these days, as I missed one or two of the books growing up.

    I don’t much care for villains. The only ones I can think of that I’ve liked are Shere Khan from “The Jungle Book”–simply because he’s a tiger and tigers are cool–Loki from the Marvel Universe and Crowley from Supernatural (before the writers started doing obnoxious things to his character, that is).

    Liked by 3 people

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