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Endings to books

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message 1: by Ed (new)

Ed | 237 comments Mod
Are there any endings to a book you particularly enjoyed or hated? I'm finding the ending to Tree of Smoke to be sort of odd. I'm finding with books written during the last several years, it seems at times that the authors have trouble ending the slice of life tale...sort of connecting everything at the end...just my thougts tonight. :)


message 2: by Cassiel (new)

Cassiel Ooh, good topic!

I started out loving Winter's Tale by Helprin and just despised the ending. Actually the final third of the book deteriorated and the ending was just the final insult. So many threads dangling, wonderful characters dropped by the wayside...

I disliked Never Let Me Go by K. Ishiguro throughout reading it, but the ending was a quite lovely summing up and redeemed some of the disappointment.

message 3: by Jeannie (new)

Jeannie | 16 comments This IS an interesting topic. I run three face2face book groups and I would have to say that one of the primary complaints readers have about novels is the ending of the story. I'm not sure why this is but my opinion is that, unlike in the past, modern author's tend to end their books in a more realistic manner. Older novels had tidy endings. Author's of the past, would pull together all the lose threads and end things so that the reader had a beginning, middle and end to any given story.
I think today's author's write in a more life like fashion. Realistically we can't always see an ending to a situation. We lose track of people and places, things are often left unresolved. It is my opinion that this is the trend in modern literature.
Another interesting thing I've found out about the ending of stories is this : when discussing a book, there are often as many different desired "endings" as there are readers in the room. Reader's tend to project their own experiances and desires into how they would like to see a story end.

message 4: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Moran (authorkellymoran) I'm a writer of romance mostly, drama and suspense underliners, but I particularly hate when authors get over cheesy with the ending. You have this great 300 page story, and it ends with... adoringly into each others eyes and saw forever...
yuck. you won't find it in mine.
I like endings that make you think.

message 5: by Ed (new)

Ed | 237 comments Mod
I agree...those endings are pretty much of a letdown. I think it is becoming more of a modern trend....the slice of life story conflicting with a desire to have a nice sums it up ending.

message 6: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (target) | 10 comments Very true Jeannie.

I've absolutely loved one ending I've come across. And it wasn't even in a book. It was the ending to Halo 3. Beautiful ending, they ended it peacefully and left a few doors open just in case. I guess you'd have to be familiar with the games to really appreciate it, but trust me, it was perfect.

message 7: by Tina (new)

Tina I just finished reading The Race by Richard North Patterson. It was a quick, fun read about a guy who is running for President and the whole craziness surrounding a closely contested primary race for the Republican nomination.

While I generally enjoyed it, this is one book that would have benefited from some ends left loose. Everything was too tied up in the end. There were too many pieces connected. Didn't feel natural.

message 8: by Tina (new)

Tina Yeah, Presumed Innocent rocked my world. I remember reading it with two friends and we each attempted to figure out the mystery. None of us did, and after the final revelation you just had to go back and re-read the book and see all the signs. Yeah, great ending.

message 9: by Salma (new)

Salma Has anyone ever read "The Little Friend"? Donna Tartt. The end nearly made me want to pull my own hair out. Or lack of ending, I should say. I was like, 700 pages for that??

message 10: by Jeannie (new)

Jeannie | 16 comments I am one of the few readers who liked Tartt's "The Little Friend" I liked it better than her first novel. I realize that I am in the minority when it comes to this book. Tartt did NOT end the book....she just stopped telling the story.

message 11: by Salma (new)

Salma I did like the book, the actual writing, since I kept going. I was hoping to get the answers to some questions at the end- that was a big disappointment to ne that I didn't. And that revelation about Harriet- I just didn't get it. It just seemed thrown in there at random, and i was frantically backtracking pages to see if I'd missed something.

message 12: by Kyle (new)

Kyle (kylewilk) | 9 comments if i'm not mistaken, the most dangerous portions of a plane flight are the takeoffs and the landing...and so it goes, i think, with the novel (probably all other genres as well). i just finished the alienist and it would have garnered 4 stars from me had it not been for that ending....rushed; pat; forced; almost disingenuous; not as well researched. great book overall, almost 4 stars...until the end. oh well.

message 13: by Cheryl S. (new)

Cheryl S. | 11 comments Hi Jeannie--I agree with you on this. I just finished "The World According to Garp", obviously written a number of years ago. At the end you know what happens to everyone and you get that kind of "hum" of satisfaction when you finish the last page. Personally I like that probably because back in the dark ages that's how I was taught to write a story. My experience with newer fiction is about 50/50 with endings that wrap it all up and those that don't. Sometimes for me those ambiguous endings wreck what was otherwise a great story. I'm probably just showing my age!

message 14: by Jeannie (new)

Jeannie | 16 comments Hi to you cheryl :>))
I remember being taught that a story was to have a beginning, a middle and an ending. Seems that there are many modern authors who are taking liberty with the way stories are written. I think that in the interest of being "real" a lot of today's authors are leaving their stories with a lot of loose threads....but then life is all about loose threads. For whatever reason, this doesn't seem to bother me all that much.

I would have to agree though that it is sometimes hard to know whether the author got lost and couldn't find an appropriate ending or whether they left things unfinished on purpose.

Like I said, I belong to three face2face groups. Endings are big issues in my groups. Most members would prefer an ending such as you yourself like. I don't think it is age related Cheryl, just a desire to see how things "turn out".

Which brings up another question altogether. If people could know what the endings of their own stories were........would they WANT to know ? I don't know if these two things are related but perhaps they are.

message 15: by Ed (new)

Ed | 237 comments Mod
No, I wouldn't want to know...the mystery makes life great...just like not knowing makes you turn the page.

message 16: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) Jeannie, God no. I would not want to know the ending to my own story. If I did, I might be so sad or disappointed that I wouldn't even enjoy the days leading up to my ending.

I love when writers end a book on a poetic note. Who can every forget Fitzgerald's last few paragraphs of The Great Gatsby? I still love reading those pages out loud.

Here are some of my favorite endings:

The Red Tent (cried my eyes out at 3 a.m.)
Passage by Connie Willis
A Thousand Splendid Suns
Fahrenheit 451
The Accidental Tourist
To Kill a Mockingbird

message 17: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 100 comments I was talking about this in another thread, but I don't remember which one. I usually hate the endings of books that I read (at least the more modern ones). It seems that the last 40 pages or so, the author just doesn't know what to do so it just rambles. I find I am usually picking out my next book at this time and getting pretty bored.

One author, whose endings I look forward to, is Jodi Picoult. She seems to sock you in the end.

message 18: by Terri (new)

Terri Interesting subject. I agree with Jeanne that years ago writing was much different. Today's writers seem to leave us hanging much more with the endings.
Now, I love a book that leaves me "thinking" at the end, but there's a huge difference between being left thinking and "unsatisfied."
I know I keep gushing about The Thirteenth Tale....however, look at how well that author did her ending. She DID tie it all up very well, even put a bow on it so to speak. All of our questions were answered at the end. No confusion, no disappointment. However, she DID still manage to leave ME thinking about the entire novel. To me, that's great writing! So that's a modern day novel that managed to give the reader a good ending and still leave us thinking.
Anthony mentioned Shreve's book and I know what he means.......I finished Penelope Lively's The Road to Lichfield last evening. Kind of boring in parts....however, the ending. My jaw dropped. So it made it worth while to finish.
I think many writers find it difficult to maintain their momentum throughout the entire novel and to me, that's what defines an excellent writer. They hold your interest through every page.

message 19: by Terri (new)

Terri PS....I just wanted to say, call me old-fashioned. However, when I invest my time in X amount of pages, I don't want to hit that final page and be shaking my head in total confusion like Jeannie described with The Little Friend.

message 20: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (chaoscat60) | 37 comments Yes Meg, Piooult does do a good shocking ending, but I;ve read enough of her books that I'm figuring it out now.

message 21: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (chaoscat60) | 37 comments Terri, I love books that give you insights and provoke your mind, as long as I have closure.

message 22: by Lori (new)

Lori Walker I really didn't like the ending to Poisonwood Bible. I really felt like the last 100 or so pages (pretty much after the girls grow up) seemed superfluous to me. She just seemed to go on and on and on. Of course, I was in high school when I read it, so maybe I should try it again sometime in the future.

message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

Books are written with the will of independence and freedom about our condition, and our world around us which means, any books plays with the concept of unpredictibility. In my opinion is kind of naive, to classify any end of a book as happy or sad...good or bad. These are cultural concepts, according to our society and vision. Books are written with the spirit of freedom of our human imagination, and the end is irrelevant. Books are written with the idea of explaining part of ourselves, explaning our representation of our world, and hopelessness of our condition.
History as a Social discipline as revealed the failure of our condition for bringing more justice in the world. Willing any happy ending of a book is unrealistic and utopic. Life is not like that. Literature is a valuable tool of understanding about the mysteries of our human heart. It is the examination about identity in different situations, and periods. But Literature is at the same time, a powerful weapon of knowledge and beauty. We love Literature, because it shows us our language regardless space and time.
Concluding, I'd say, it is shallow to analyze a books because of its ending. I would judge any book, because of its independence, and freedom of writing. I would recommend a book, if can explain me my human nature,fears and deep demons of each of us. That's the greatness of reading Les Miserables of Victor Hugo or The Read and the Black of Stendhal. If any book bring us an universal message, then is human, and independent.

message 24: by Heidi (last edited Feb 25, 2009 03:32AM) (new)

Heidi  | 23 comments I think you can like a book (maybe even love it) but hate the ending... I find the endings I don't like are the ones that don't deliver the justice I feel is due a character... (which probably makes them more realistic).

A couple of books that had memorable endings were The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (don't get me started on that one...wouldn't want to spoil anyone's read-- wonderful, haunting, think about it for days kind of a read), Atonement (do not watch the movie-- read the book or you'll miss a heck of an ender) and that entire last book of the Twilight series (another one that'll probably make enemies if I begin to share my disappointment with what the author did there).

One of the last satisfying endings of recent reads includes The Red Tent (like Tressa, I'm a middle of the night reader too-- thankfully I'm married to a very heavy sleeper)... it was definitely a two-hanky read, but it worked.

message 25: by Jim (last edited Feb 08, 2009 11:17AM) (new)

Jim | 41 comments I really enjoyed the ending of GORKY PARK by Martin Cruz Smith and still remember it for the most part even though I read it years ago.

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