RARA-AVIS: Best Endings

From: Nathan Cain ( IndieCrime@gmail.com)
Date: 26 Mar 2007

  I've gone through the Rara-Avis archives, looking for a discussion on the best endings for noir novels, and I've found a lot of separate discussions about the endings of various novels, but no discussion ( at least recently) of endings in general, and what makes a good ending. It's been said that ending a work of fiction may be the most difficult part of writing it, so I want to open up the floor as to what makes a good ending, and what novels have them.
  I'm not just talking about twist endings, either. I just finished Jason Starr's The Follower tonight, and it got me started thinking about this. In terms of plot it is a fairly conventional thriller
(think Fatal Attraction where the genders are reversed and everyone is young and single), but the denouement is anything but conventional. A less skilled, or more conservative writer would have made it a happy ( or at least happier) ending, but Starr writes a scene that shows the reader the severe psychological damage the main character has endured and raises questions about whether a happy ending will ever be possible. It's a simple and devastatingly effective scene.
   To talk about a book that's actually out, I think the ending to Starr's Hard Feelings is also a great one. It had me laughing out loud and, if you've read the book, you know that that is just wrong. I still remember the last words of that book. It made that kind of impression. The EMT's words to Richie Segal, were again, simple and effective.
    I think a great ending is one that offers the reader a surprise, but not in a "The butler's twin brother did it!" kind of way. It's one that plays with the readers expectations, like the end of Thompson's The Getaway. I think it can be as elaborate as Thompson's ending, or it can be as simple as the single line of dialogue at the end of Hard Feelings.
   Now, what does everyone else think?

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