I'm sitting at the kitchen table, squeezing in a blog post because I promised I would, listening to the dish-washer whir away, and having a devilishly hard time thinking of the last time I read a book where I really liked the ending. It's entirely possible most of that is because I'm picky. Because I long ago learned the knack for liking something even if parts of it left me wanting.
I just finished John Scalzi's Old Man's War series, and I'd recommend it a hundred times over, but if you asked me for a review nearly everything I told you would be negative. Which makes me sound like some insane keyboard wielding Negative Nancy. Just because he walked away from one tiny little plot string shouldn't ruin an entire series. It doesn't. I just really wanna know what happened.
And right now, thinking about unsatisfying endings all I can think about is Anne Rice. Someone mentioned the other day that she's coming out with a new Lestat book, and this was generally greeted with happy sentiments. By everybody but me.
I did my Anne Rice phase, and honestly I wish I was still in it some days. I gobbled up The Vampire Lestat, and suffered through Interview with a Vampire both on screen and page. I read the Violin and wondered why I was so sad about a book I didn't even particularly like.
And I read Tales of the Body Thief.
If there was a sane, straightforward way to tell you of my love for that book, while I was reading it, I'd probably have found it in the last fifteen years or so. I haven't. I savored every page, disappeared into that world with every chance I had, slowly and methodically because I didn't want it to be over. Right until the end.
After all that love, it's natural to be a little disappointed, right? Because I'd built it up so far there was no possible way to write me a satisfying ending. I can see that, I even accept it. That's not what happened. I wasn't mildly unsatisfied by the ending, I hated it. And if I tell you why I might not stop writing this until sometime Friday. The short answer is I finished the book and felt lied to and manipulated.
Maybe if I'd read it in my thirties I would have been prepared for that. I've had more than a decade for the world to find new and inventive ways to disappoint me (isn't that a depressing thought) and I'm a little less surprised by it every time it happens. But that one was painful, and it's fundamentally shaped nearly every literary opinion I've had since.
I feel like there should be a support group for this.
"Hi, my name is Jules."
"Hi Jules," you all offer kindly.
"It's been seventeen years," I tearfully confess. "I'm still not over it."