Shyness can stop you: charming reflections on Anthony Trollope’s characters and life

Juan Martinez, a shy, “Charlie Brownish” man, finds a mirror in Anthony Trollope‘s hobbledehoys:

I discovered Trollope’s novels during the worst of my hobbledehoydom, while living in Bogotá and dropping out of various universities from 1993 to 1996. Not even Trollope, by the way, could find a way to place a hobbledehoy in the center of the action – in his novels they often play second-fiddle: quiet, incidental, well intentioned, but inept.

Finding a mirror in Trollope’s world pleased me to no end, but it did not happen right away, nor did it keep me from fucking up royally, over and over again, as I pinballed between schools, skipped classes, and fooled myself into thinking I was cooler than I was – that some measure of hipness was being achieved, and that something was accomplished by my drifting, by writing for an English-language weekly that paid poorly and late and whose checks often bounced, by teaching a few English classes for just enough money to keep me at a ratty boarding house in Chapinero Bajo, hoping to overcome my Charlie-Brownness via beer and books and obscure music and unbelievably cool acquaintances.


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