Jack Torrance, The Shining, Stephen King
Ullman folded his neat little hands on the desk blotter and looked directly at Jack, a small, balding man in a banker’s suit and a quiet gray tie… Danny’s face, so much like his own had been, his eyes had been light blue while Danny’s were cloudy gray, but the lips still made a bow and the complexion was fair…His eyes were far away and cloudy. His hair hanging in his eyes, like some heavy animal. A large dog… or a lion.
The documentary Room 237 opens this Friday in New York at the IFC Center and elsewhere.
Dolores “Lolita” Hayes/ Mrs. Richard F. Schiller, Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
Pale-gray vacant eyes…asymmetrical freckles on her bobbed nose…Only in the tritest of terms (diary resumed) can I describe Lo’s features: I might say her hair is auburn, and her lips as red as licked red candy, the lower one prettily plump, bobbed nose…Lolita of the strident voice and rich brown hair—of the bangs and the swirls and the sides and the curls at the back upturned russet face.
Couple of inches taller. Pink-rimmed glasses. New, heaped-up hairdo. She was frankly and hugely pregnant. Her head looked smaller and her pale-freckled cheeks were hollowed…with round pommettes…And softly, confidentially, arching her thin eyebrows…This Lolita, pale and polluted, and big with another’s child, but still gray-eyed, still sooty-lashed, still auburn and almond.
Purchase at Amazon or your local independent bookstore.
This weekend a few of my favorite New Yorkers are taking part in a marathon reading of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. You can find more on times, venues and readers here. For inspiration here is a repost of the Ahab composite.
Captain Ahab, Moby Dick, Herman Melville
He looked like a man cut away from the stake, when the fire has overrunningly wasted all the limbs without consuming them…His whole high, broad form, seemed made of solid bronze, and shaped in an unalterable mould, like Cellini’s cast Perseus…Threading its way out from among his grey hairs, and continuing right down one side of his tawny scorched face and neck, till it disappeared in his clothing, you saw a slender rod-like mark… branded… What business have I with this pipe? This thing that is meant for sereneness, to send up mild white vapors among mild white hairs, not among torn iron-grey locks like mine. I’ll smoke no more…His eyes like powder-pans… It almost seemed that while he himself was marking out lines and courses on the wrinkled charts, some invisible pencil was also tracing lines and courses upon the deeply marked chart of his forehead…His firm lips met like the lips of a vice; the delta of his forehead’s veins swelled like overladen brooks…Supper he never touched; nor reaped his beard; which darkly grew all gnarled, as unearthed roots of trees blown over, which still grow idly on at naked base. (Suggested by Jennifer Mills at The L Magazine)
Count Dracula, Dracula, Bram Stoker
A tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache…His face was a strong, a very strong, aquiline, with high bridge of the thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils, with lofty domed forehead…His eyebrows were very massive, almost meeting over the nose, and with bushy hair that seemed to curl in its own profusion. The mouth, so far as I could see it under the heavy moustache, was fixed and rather cruel-looking…For the rest, his ears were pale, and at the tops extremely pointed. The chin was broad and strong, and the cheeks firm though thin…The blue eyes transformed with fury. (Multiple suggestions)
Kurtz, Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
I could see the cage of his ribs all astir…The eyes of that apparition shining darkly far in its bony head…It was as though an animated image of death carved out of old ivory… His mouth wide… And the lofty frontal bone of Mr. Kurtz! They say the hair goes on growing sometimes, but this—ah specimen, was impressively bald. The wilderness had patted him on the head, and, behold, it was like a ball—an ivory ball… His colorless lips… He seemed to stare at me out of the glassy panel—stare with that wide and immense stare embracing, condemning, loathing all the universe. (Multiple suggestions)
Jesus, The Last Temptation of Christ, Nikos Kazantzakis
Narrow, deeply wrinkled forehead… His patched and repatched tunic rolled off his shoulder and revealed his body—thin… The fluff about his chin and cheeks had become a curly coal-black beard. His nose was hooked, his lips thick…It was not a beautiful face, but it had a hidden, disquieting charm. Were his eyelashes to blame? Thick and exceedingly long… Or were his eyes responsible? They were large and black, full of light, full of darkness—all intimidation and sweetness. Flickering like those of a snake, they stared at you from between the long lashes, and your head reeled. (Suggested by Gary Barwin)
Good Way to Spend a Lazy Saturday: Following a ton of Literary Tumblrs -
The Composites may be biased, as this site is included, but The Millions' monster list of lit-themed Tumblrs is essential reading this weekend. There are plenty of good friends on there too, from Vol 1 Brooklyn and Recommended Reading to Little Brother.
The Condemned, “In the Penal Colony,” Franz Kafka
The condemned man, who was a stupid-looking, wide-mouthed creature with bewildered hair and face…He was a thin man…”You are free,” said the officer to the condemned man in the native tongue. The man did not believe it at first. “Yes, you are set free,” said the officer. For the first time the condemned man’s face woke to real animation. (Willa and Edwin Muir translation)
The Condemned, a vacant-looking man with a broad mouth and dilapidated hair and face… He was a thin man…“You are free,” the Officer told the Condemned Man in his own language. At first the man did not believe him. “You are free now,” said the Officer. For the first time the face of the Condemned Man showed signs of real life. (Ian Johnston translation)
Hubertus Bigend, Pattern Recognition and Zero History, William Gibson UPDATED IMAGE
The smooth and ironic brow of Hubertus Bigend, a nominal Belgian who looks like Tom Cruise on a diet of virgins’ blood and truffled chocolates. … He looks as though he’s … been infused with live extract of hot beef. He’s florid, glossy, bright−eyed, very likely bushy−tailed as well…His dark forelock falls across his eyes; he tosses his head to throw it back, entirely too coltish for anyone’s good. (Suggested by Chris from Tumblr)
Of the first composite of Hubertus Bigend, author William Gibson said "Not even in the ballpark." Reader Nick Nunes suggested on Twitter something more “Ringo Starr” as well as wider features. Stuart Nathan also suggested a wider neck, a forelock and older features.
Humbert Humbert, Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov (Updated image)
Gloomy good looks…Clean-cut jaw, muscular hand, deep sonorous voice…broad shoulder…I was, and still am, despite mes malheurs, an exceptionally handsome male; slow-moving, tall, with soft dark hair and a gloomy but all the more seductive cast of demeanor. Exceptional virility often reflects in the subject’s displayable features a sullen and congested something that pertains to what he has to conceal. And this was my case…But instead I am lanky, big-boned, wooly-chested Humbert Humbert, with thick black eyebrows…A cesspoolful of rotting monsters behind his slow boyish smile…aging ape eyes…Humbert’s face might twitch with neuralgia.
Readers have debated no image on the site quite like the composite of Humbert Humbert. The above reflects suggested changes from readers who thought the original composite was too thin and weedy. Let this be an example of the subjectivity inherent in the project and the unreliability of narration.