Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The end of a novel

Nigel Beale picks up on the question "Why do most endings of novels disappoint?" apparently asked by James Wood in How Fiction Works, his "first full-length book of criticism" (and also his first with an undistinguished title - it's not very long since John Mullan published How Novels Work). It's a good question. I never reach the final page of a novel without already having finished it. The final page is always superfluous.

I mitigate disappointment with selective forgetting. The endings of my favoured novels have barely any presence in memory compared to their beginnings. But I only read for beginnings anyway. How can there be an end to what only ever begins?

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