Saturday, March 26, 2011

The End, Part Two

Last blog, we kind of talked about endings of things (books, movies, television shows, etc) that we would have changed had we been given the chance. I would have changed the ending of Firefly because it involved the Fox network execs canceling the show before Joss had been given a chance to tell us the whole story (That's right. I'll NEVER get over that one). But today I thought I'd write a little bit about the endings I did like and then invite you to do the same. Or just tell me more endings you didn't like. There aren't really any rules here at My Pet Blog. We don't hold with such nonsense here.

Yes, when I was teaching, I was most often criticized for my occasionally lacking classroom management abilities. But that's another blog for another day...

Let's get back to The End.

I've read a lot of books with a decent beginning and middle but just blow it on the ending and that makes me just not like the book. Once, a long time ago, I read Jude Deveraux's novel Remembrance and came away with that feeling because the book just didn't end. She just kept writing and writing and sent her story into the eye rolling territory I hate to visit. Now, keep in mind, this was a time traveling romance novel centered around past lives and yet, it wasn't until the very end that I was saying to myself, "Give me a break!" I think if she had ended the story a good twenty pages sooner, it would have been a much stronger book that didn't make me groan.

My co-worker is a Jude Deveraux fan and we have spent a couple of lunch breaks together (the days when I've forgotten my headphones) discussing this. She does not agree with me. She likes that Jude Deveraux spends time telling you what happens after the happy ending. I've always been on the other side of that, thinking that that's what a person's imagination is for. You know the two who are the two got their happy ending. Decide for yourself where they went afterward.

I've long considered Philippa Gregory's novel Wideacre to have one of the most perfect endings I've ever read. Just the other day, when I was poking around the local used book store, I was sucked into a conversation with the store's owner and another patron about this book. The patron said it was the most ridiculous story she'd ever read. Preposterous! she exclaimed. So you could just imagine her face when I offered my opinion that this book, this preposterous story, had one of the best endings I'd ever read.

Here's the thing: the story is outrageous. I don't know if you've ever read it and my fear of spoilers will dissuade me from writing about it in any real detail, but it's a wild story about a girl who, out of love and lust, does some wild things. She spins further and further out of control and you're sitting there thinking, "how the hell is this thing going to end?" And then, when the end does come, it really is perfect. It fits the story, it makes perfect sense...honestly, I think I swooned a little the first time I read it because it was that perfect.

How many more times do you think I should use the word 'perfect'?

Actions had consequences and Gregory's superb writing (she's really one of my all time favorites) puts it over the top. Lovely.

Ellen Emerson White writes fantastic endings for her novels. The only parts I don't like is that her novels have endings. I was also quite happy with the end of the Harry Potter series although I would have changed Harry's kids' names. Albus Severus? Are you kidding me? That's almost as bad as Renesmee Carlie.

On the movie side of things, I am partial to Dead Poets Society and Stranger Than Fiction. Every time I see Ethan Hawke get up on that desk and say "O captain, my captain", I cry. A lot. I've been teased by my students in more than one class for that too. Whatever. Bring on the water works. I'm not ashamed.

Stranger Than Fiction (if you haven't seen it, you must go out and do so immediately) is also quite excellent. It's kind of interesting for this sort of discussion too. A writer who discovers her main character is a living breathing person then decides to change the end of her novel to something less than brilliant. The ending's all right, it's just not as brilliant as it would have been had she decided to kill the main characters as she initially planned. When asked why she would do this, she responses with, "Because it's a book about a man who doesn't know he's about to die. And then dies. But if a man does know he's about to die and dies anyway. Dies- dies willingly, knowing that he could stop it, then- I mean, isn't that the type of man who you want to keep alive?"

Now it's your turn (you know, if you're so inclined)...what are your favorite endings?


  1. Good post! Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow has to be one of the most ghastly films but the very, very last moment is fabulous!

  2. I love the ending of the movie, The Man in the Iron Mask.
    I always wanted a little bit more at the end of the movie, August Rush, though I can live with imagining how it went.
    Since I write in series, I hope I'm doing right by the readers with my endings.

  3. LOVED stranger than fiction!

    I also loved the ending of About a Boy. That was good. Neat but not perfectly tidy.

    Great post. I will have to check out that book. Never read it and I'm always looking for things to add to my "must-read" list - even though it's MILES long...

  4. I'm so pumped to have discovered another brown coat, but I am curious about your feelings on the ending of Serenity? I'm glad we got a little more story, but there are still so many things left open ended!

    I agree that Stranger Than Fiction had a great ending, I want to watch it again now... However, no name compares to how horrible Renesmee is. Albus Severus is pretty bad, but Renesmee is just awful.

    Also, this Wideacre book sounds fascinating, I'll have to check it out! Thanks for the tip :)

    Anyway, great post, can't wait to read more in the future!

  5. Dannifoley- I loved Serenity but it just left me wanting more, as per usual with any Joss Whedon anything. I really don't think I'll ever get over not getting to see where Joss would've taken that series.

    And Susan, the ending of The Keepers of Sulbreth made me want Beyond The Gate right away so you must be doing something right...