Books on the Nightstand discussion

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Podcast Episode Discussions > Episode #304: Ambiguous and Unresolved Endings

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message 1: by Michael (last edited Oct 28, 2014 10:55AM) (new)

Michael (mkindness) | 537 comments Mod
We welcome your comments about ambiguous and unresolved endings (be sure to listen to the podcast before posting, so you can hear our thoughts and the books we discussed). We think spoilers should be allowed in these discussions, but please do put SPOILER ALERT at the top of your comment if you're truly giving away a plot point, and not just the fact the book has an ambiguous or unresolved ending.

NOTE: I'm starting this thread so I can link to it in the show notes. As I write this, the podcast is not posted yet. It will be available no later than 10pm eastern time, on 10.28.14.


message 2: by Carol (new)

Carol (ckubala) | 559 comments Mod
I have always loved books that have endings that are not wrapped up in a neat and tidy fashion. I think these stories sporting ambiguous endings make for lively discussion or at the very least allow me to imagine my own resolution. As Michael mentioned Michel Faber this morning his book The Crimson Petal and the Whitecomes to mind. I know there are many others and look forward to seeing what this group suggests.

I do not mind someone revealing a book has an ambiguous ending and this does not ruin the read for me. Reading that there is a twist or surprise ending gives me more dismay. I find myself looking for it throughout my read and it can color my opinion of the book. I'd rather not know but it's hard to talk about one of these without mentioning this as an appeal factor.


message 3: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 109 comments I feel the same way Carol - ambiguous is fine, but the whole idea of a twist or surprise is that we don't see it coming.


message 4: by Shruti (new)

Shruti | 54 comments I feel exactly the opposite. I guess too many Agatha Christie novels ingrained a satisfaction in knowing that I'd solved a mystery correctly (or what I'd missed if I didn't get it right.) Books like (view spoiler) all drove me batty.

I don't necessarily need the cheesy epilogues about how they got married and had 2.5 kids and lived happily ever after or whatever. But if there's a mystery central to the plot, I'd like it solved, please.


message 5: by Victoria (new)

Victoria (vicki_c) | 366 comments I just posted about Wolf in White Van in the October thread. Either this ending was ambiguous or just unresolved, or I just don't get it. I'm not sure which. I would love to have someone to discuss it with though. Maybe they could explain it to me! LOL.


message 6: by Karen (last edited Oct 31, 2014 02:39AM) (new)

Karen | 293 comments I also love books with ambiguous or unresolved endings one of my all time favorite books is The Reluctant Fundamentalist. I read this book years ago and still think about it.


message 7: by Carol (new)

Carol (ckubala) | 559 comments Mod
Shruti wrote: "I feel exactly the opposite. I guess too many Agatha Christie novels ingrained a satisfaction in knowing that I'd solved a mystery correctly (or what I'd missed if I didn't get it right.) Books lik..."

Oh, don't get me wrong Shruti, I love a good mystery. If I'm reading Agatha Christi or the like, I know there's going to be a mystery and I love trying to solve it. Looking for the clues is half the fun. It's annoying when a mystery author does not provide fair clues so you, the reader can solve the puzzle.This, to me, is different than knowing there will be a twist or surprise ending.


message 8: by Gail (new)

Gail | 74 comments Sometimes novels are both ambiguous and unresolved. I just finished All The Birds Singing and feel empty and confused.


message 9: by pam (new)

pam | 1 comments sometimes when books have an ambiguous ending i go away feeling as though i didn't get it. until i realise no one gets it. one book i absolutely loved was ishiguru's "pale view of hills". i read it on a transatlantic flight to visit my good friend in england, and when i got to her house i begged her to put down the book she was currently reading and read it so i could talk about it to SOMEONE. like ann says on the episode, i thought i was going to burst waiting for her to finish. lucky me, my friend is a really fabulous friend and agreed. we both absolutely loved it and couldn't stop talking about it. such a slow burn. has anyone else read it? if not - it's short (180 pgs). i HIGHLY recommend it!


message 10: by Amy (new)

Amy Nash (nbcmom) | 17 comments Our book club just read Wallace Stegner's Classic "Crossing to Safety." Not knowing what exactly happens at the end created an excellent discussion among our members...but we still wanted to know where the main characters were headed. Like me and haven't read it in the past 25 years? Grab it and enjoy this book!


message 11: by Gerald (new)

Gerald Miller | 817 comments I think everything Stegner wrote is a classic. I am not a big classic reader but enjoyed ANGLE OF REPOSE. That story I did understand.


message 12: by Gerald (new)

Gerald Miller | 817 comments The trouble with this thread is that every book mentioned I might not want to read because I like an ending that I understand.


message 13: by Shruti (new)

Shruti | 54 comments Carol wrote: "Oh, don't get me wrong Shruti, I love a good mystery. If I'm reading Agatha Christi or the like, I know there's going to be a mystery and I love trying to solve it. Looking for the clues is half the fun. It's annoying when a mystery author does not provide fair clues so you, the reader can solve the puzzle.This, to me, is different than knowing there will be a twist or surprise ending. "

Oh, I'm all for the twists or surprise endings! It's only the unresolved ones that make my skin crawl.


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