Saturday, May 22, 2010


okay blog- i'm going to forgive you for interrupting my sleep this time, but let's not make a habit of it.

yeah, sometimes as soon as my head hits the pillow, the thoughts turn on, and i'm powerless to stop them, and damned if i'm ever getting to sleep. tonight the thoughts wanted to be on the blog, so here i am, mere hours since i posted last (i think that might be a record. don't get used to it)

So i'm thinking about books. specifically, the endings of books. i've been reading a lot more recently than i think i ever have (comes with the whole writing obsession, apparently). the most recent book i read (just today) is called BREAK and it's by Hannah Moskowitz, and it's really super great, and it's her first book and she wrote it while she was still in high school, which makes me totally jealous, and makes me want to hate her, except i can't because her book is too damn good. go read it. seriously.

anyway, as i often do once i've finished a book, i went online to look at reviews, critiques, etc. just to see if people in general thought the same things i did. i do this with books i like, because i love to read praise of the same books, sort of confirming that i have taste that falls somewhere in the realm of 'normal' (though is that necessarily a good thing?). i do it with books i hate too, because i'd like to see someone else whining about it for the same reasons i did.

the only really critical thing i've read about BREAK is that some people feel the ending was unsatisfying. now i'm not going to spoil the ending, don't worry, but if you're one of those people who doesn't want to know anything about a book, i mean any teeny insignificant detail (hi Chris- oh who am i kidding, he doesn't read this) then you might want to skip the next sentence or two.

i didn't have any issue with the ending. the only real complaint i had was that i would have happily read more, if there was more to read, but i didn't feel that the story lacked a satisfying ending. it was perhaps less dramatic than the overall tone of the book. the absolute worst thing i could say is that it was abrupt, and i'm still not sure that's even negative. and the ending didn't make me want to go shoot myself in the head, which is always a plus in my mind. (more on books that make me want to shoot myself in the head later).

so what makes an ending 'good'. does it have to be happy? or does it have to be in the same tone as the rest of the book? (if the whole book is sort of dark and depressing, does that mean it can't have a happy ending? what about the opposite?)

one type of ending i've seen a lot of is the whole 'flash forward' technique. generally i hate these. it feels like a bit of a cop out- like you get to the end of the real story, but the author wants to wrap everything up in a neat bow, so they flash forward to a point in the near future where all the drama of the last 300 or so pages has been resolved, and everybody lives happily ever after.

i say i hate this, but you know what- that's exactly how i ended my own farking novel. big dramatic scene with slightly ambiguous ending, flash forward a month, final scene that's probably a little schmaltzy and a happy-for-now ending (as opposed to happily ever after, but it's close).

maybe i just hate those scenes when they come at the end of books that i'm already not feeling the love for... that's a possibility.

last thought on books, not on endings necessarily- the stealthy-depressing book. i've been bitching to everyone i've talked to recently about a book i read, and i'm not even going to bother naming it because, frankly, i'm over it, but i had a good four days or so where this book infiltrated my brain and made me feel all weepy every time i thought about it. and it was chick lit too. granted, the author is known for dealing with 'serious' issues- but her other books weren't quite as sneaky about the specifics. this book draws you in by telling you that Something Bad has happened, but not giving you any important details, and ...

shit, you know what, i'm just going to spoil the whole damn book, okay? i'm not going to go back up and edit either, because i said i wouldn't, and breaking my word on the first day back blogging seems like a bad precedent to set.

okay, so the book is Anybody Out There by Marian Keyes. i have to say that i really did like the other books of hers that i've read. they definitely had serious overtones, and i'm pretty sure they both made me cry at some point, that's not the issue. this book spends 150 or so pages telling you about the main character, Anna, and the fact that she's obviously had some sort of terrible accident, the details of which we are not privy to (again, Keyes does this, and usually it's okay. it's interesting to see how she sprinkles the details in slowly, usually it's a great effect). interspersed among the scenes about Anna's injuries and recovery, we get some backstory about her life before whatever happened to her. we hear about her job and her friends in new york, and how she met her boyfriend, Aiden. a little more backstory later, we find out she actually married Aiden. so when Anna's desperate to return to new york, to get back to her job and her friends and Aiden, we start to wonder- why isn't her husband with her during her recovery. my immediate thought was that he had somehow caused her accident, hell, maybe he even deliberately hurt her, who knows. but Anna keeps emailing him, calling his cell, and we get to read these sweet emails that she always signs 'your girl, Anna' and she even catches a glimpse of Aiden on the street, and now i'm just saying "What the fuck Aiden, call your fucking wife already". and then we get to the big reveal (and you've probably figured it out by now, but it wasn't quite so obvious in the book, at least not to me). Turns out, Anna was injured in a terrible car accident, and Aiden was in the car with her, and he was killed. Wheee! we even get to read the scene where they are in the accident, seeing it from Anna's point of view, describing Aiden being badly injured, but still sort of putting on a brave face for her (until he dies!).

this is the point where i start sobbing, and i don't stop for another four-fucking-hundred pages! we go through Anna's bereavement process, and it's all very well done and very real, but i was just so damn sad about Aiden (and yes, i am a giant suck. mock me if you will. he seemed like a really great guy. *sniff*)

now, after finishing the book, and after still being annoyingly upset by it three days later (like, to the point where i'd start tearing up if i caught a reference to the boston red sox- Aiden was a fan- god i'm pathetic) i started to realize that i was having a particularly bad response because the book hit on two of my big panic triggers: spousal death (but i mean, honestly, that's a pretty tough subject regardless, right?) and car accidents (been in two, neither fatal to anyone, in fact no one ever got seriously injured, but it fucked my head up about it, so...yeah.) so i cut myself a little slack for being upset, and then told myself to get the fuck over it already. and i read some fluffy chick lit, and a book that i wanted to throw against the wall for entirely different reasons, and i felt better.

so i guess my issue is that sometimes books can try to use the whole twist aspect to get a reaction out of readers, and sometimes it's kind of cool, but mostly it feels like a cheap trick, and for me, it lead to a lot of unnecessary moping. because i am a suck, but still...

hey, if anyone is reading this, and they know of any other books that haul out and punch you in the gut halfway through like that, let me know so i can avoid them. thanks muchly!

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