the slush minion’s diary #4: sympathetic characters

This ‘slush minion’ post is more of a question than anything else.

There is a school of thought that says that ‘must have sympathetic main character’ is a box that must be ticked before a story is publishable.

I tend to think that the character could be unsympathetic, as long as he/she is interesting. An example: I’ve just watched District 9. The main character Wikus van der Merwe…man, he’s an annoying prick at the start. But he’s a CHARACTER with big fat capital letters, and after a while you feel sorry for him. He carries the story, because of what he was and what he becomes. But sympathetic… er…

So what’s your opinion? Do you automatically stop reading a story when you don’t like the main character? What are attributes that would make you stop reading?