Book Endings

I just finished reading Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian–for the first time and for a class on teaching. I liked the novel, and I think it is a very teachable book, but it reminded me of one of the reasons I don’t finish a lot of the books that I start.

I don’t like the endings of most novels. This isn’t a “I’m sad it’s over” thing either. Sometimes that factors in, granted, but I usually genuinely dislike how authors choose to end their books. Mostly because the last like fifteen pages of books always remind me of the end of August: it feels long, drawn out, kind of hazy and not in ‘real-time’; you don’t want it to end but at the same time you’re not really enjoying this part of your vacation/book anymore. Alexie’s Diary embodied this mood SO strongly; it actually was set in the end of summer, in both present and past time but with very hazy transitions between the two, and eventually felt like it was groping for its own conclusion.

Coming of age stories do that more than any other novel sub-group, but even a lot of the classics seem to just try to stretch the denouement because they hope to cram a little more ‘profound’ in there. The Grapes of Wrath is a good example of a book that over-extends its final chapters. A Tale of Two Cities and Atlas Shrugged are two novels that actually end and wrap up quickly but still in a meaningful, relevant, final blow sort of way.

Naturally, I felt compelled to check my own novel to see if I’m being a hypocrite. I’m pleased to say that I felt my ending met my standards of profundity within concision, even with its brief and humorous epilogue.

Also, I decided to post my narrator’s afterword, which I realized I can do without giving any spoilers. It goes like so…

Afterword Hello. Yes, this is your narrator once again. It has come to my attention that some readers—not to imply you specifically—might be somewhat pernickety over the historical accuracy of this tale, and in this regard, I should very much like to ‘come clean’ as the term goes. I apologize in that I truly meant not to offend any of you, and took it as the storyteller’s prerogative, but since I am simply racked with guilt I shall come out and say it. I would like to announce, before there is any more confusion or debate on the subject, that the mustache treatment called “Liverpool Silver” does not in fact exist and never has. Yes, I made it up as a means of accenting a character, belying the true nature of products at the time, and I am terribly, terribly sorry if in this I led any of you astray. There. Well, I say I feel much better; don’t you? Yes, I think I’ll have a scone.
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