Re: RARA-AVIS: Unreliable narrator

Date: 11 Nov 2005

Vicki wrote:

"If someone can really develop interesting character and psychological depth, I wouldn't reject a book just because it had an unexpected ending, but this doesn't happen very often. What I want is something unpredictable, but seems to be the only possible ending for the character when you think it over."

Can you name some books you think achieved that precarious balance?

"Also, it has to be the result of something the character chose at some point, or else it's just happenstance and not satisfying. When I'm reading a book, I'm not thinking the ending--I'm just enjoying the ride--unless I'm being teased along, in which case, I get aggravated."

Sounds like Chandler's guide that a novel should be just as satisfying if the last few pages are missing. I usually don't try to figure out the ending, preferring to linger over intriguing characters. Of course t ideal is a balance, but I'm with you in valuing characters leading plot instead of plot leading characters. For instance, I've mentioned that I was disappointed by Paul Haggis's movie Crash because, as good as some of the scenes and almost all of the acting were, I could not get past the heavyhandedness in forcing these characters to come into contact with each other, and the extreme consequences of those coincidences. And a major character, like Matt Dillon's, was really no more developed than one who appeared on screen for less than five minutes, like David Keith's; each was just a collection of tics.

"If the surprise ending is achieved by the protagonist doing something out of character, it really bothers me, or if the surprise ending is created through coincidence, red herring, or another type of cheap trick, I'm doubly aggravated."

I agree with most of this, except for your being aggravated by Cheap Trick. You don't even like "Surrender"? That's great song.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 11 Nov 2005 EST