The Non-Love Ending

Great reading by Tom Perrotta at Skylight Books in LA. Can’t wait to read Mrs. Fletcher which was supposed to be called The MILF so...double interested. Because anything MILF-curious is encouraging.

Perrotta mentioned his distaste for exhaustive happy endings; he condemned The Breakfast Club and Hollywood movies of the same era as guilty of overly tidy conclusionism.
I asked him if he had beef with classic English literature. He said that, yeah, those authors usually went on too long, for example Dickens.
First The Breakfast Club and then Dickens?


Hmmm. Well, I’ve always loved a good bow-tied conclusion. Doesn’t need to be happy. I mean, Tess of the D’urbervilles, anyone? Hardy doesn’t leave the reader hanging, just for the sake of being...what? What’s with the undone ending thing? Verite? Storytelling can show us what can HAPPEN if you DO this or you DO that. Illustrate the consequences of choices, courageous or cowardly. That's what we're waiting around the campfire for. The end of the story. Did the good gal win? Or lose?

Perrotta referenced a guy who told him once, “I got your book. It’s missing the last thirty pages. Then I went back to the store and those copies were missing the last thirty pages, too.”
He said that exiting before things fizzle into a summary... Rather, exiting when the action is still vibrant -- is like sliding out of a party at just at the right time, before things get too...

Too what?
Too complete, therefore open to somehow definitively displeasing the reader/critic?
Too rule-abiding?

For the record, I don’t think Tom Perrotta is guilty of chickening out of writing satisfying conclusions. And he makes a strong point: that, after the hero's final hour, going on and on about weddings and jobs and babies can be too pretty.

I just get hot under the collar about the idea of the anti-conclusion, especially when it’s done to be contrary. Even more troublesome – the non-love ending, when it’s done to be literary.

Thoughts? Feelings?
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Published on August 15, 2017 22:38
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message 1: by Benjamin (new)

Benjamin Fasching-Gray I guess there's a balance. I want a satisfying ending, but I don't want: where is everyone twenty years later. The problem with the Breakfast Club is rather that the two female characters are abused and insulted for the entire movie and that at the end are all friends or even girlfriends of the douche bags who have been making their lives hell. It all seemed so sweet at the time but now it's like, yuck! Why did you make yourself over to please those jerks! and Eww! How could you kiss that egomaniac!? but whatever, back to the point about endings... for me... a terrible ending is the end of the harry potter books. On the one hand, not satisfying enough... Hagrid is still forbidden to cast proper spells because of a wrong magical court decision before Harry was even born... and the dictatorial ministry of magic is still a dictatorship... just cuz voldemort isn't around doesn't mean that all is right in the wizard world... so not satisfying in terms of tidying everything up and then she makes it worse by going on and on about where they all are twenty years later sending their kids off to the hogwarts... i don't need that and actually think it's kind of fucked up that these people stayed with their high school sweethearts for the next few decades... the 1950s called, they want their cliche's back... so that's a terrible ending. not tidy enough, and then a whole lot of where are they now shit. so i'm for, yes, either good triumphed over evil, or evil triumphed. Not: I'm so Buddhist or post modern that I left the hero hanging off the side of a cliff looking at a flower... but then also not: and then after this story ending, our heroes went on to become senators who get bored at art openings... like, once it's ended, let it end. which is what I need to do with this comment.

message 2: by K.K. (new)

K.K. Wootton i wish this comment would never end

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