GREAT FICTIONAL CHARACTERS THAT MAKE ME SMILE, by Art Smukler MD, author & psychiatrist

This morning I was reading the packaging on a new toothbrush. No, Mr. Happy Tooth is not a character that makes me smile. The package said to replace the toothbrush when half the blue indicator bristles lose their color.

That got me thinking. Does Jack Reacher, Lee Child’s tough guy character, check the bristles on his toothbrush? Jack Reacher’s ONLY possession is his toothbrush. “Stuff” doesn’t matter to Reacher, only being free and fighting injustice. What a kick. No mortgage. No bills. No cleaners (he buys new clothes when the old ones get dirty). No fear. Dozens of bad guys on the verge of an attack never interfere with his morning cup of coffee.

Then there’s Lucas Davenport, John Sanford’s, rich, fearless and irreverent detective. The bad guys never stand a chance because rules are flexible when it comes to keeping the streets of the Twin Cities safe. I love it when he ignores his politically correct, incompetent boss, and destroys the assholes of the world.

Let’s not forget John Corey, Nelson DeMille’s wise ass, courageous NYPD detective. When we’re not turning the pages as fast as we can read, we’re laughing out loud. Oh yeah. The bad guys never make it.

How about Holden Caulfield, J. D. Salinger’s irreverent teenager who set off 65 years ago, in 1951, to rid the world of phonies. I just re-read Catcher in the Rye and still loved it!

Jason Bourne, Robert Ludlum’s amazing CIA operative is a joy. No matter what the obstacle, even brain washing, the guy always survives.

And my favorite, because he is one of my children, is Joe Belmont, a naive medical student who battles hardened criminals to survive. His task is to wend his way back through the maze of his own mind, in Chasing Backwards.

Everyday life can be tough. Often it is unfair and hurtful. We all live with pain and suffering. What a joy and relief when the characters who populate our fictional world can make us smile and feel safe, if for only a short time.

Art Smukler is an award-winning psychiatrist and author of Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.