Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Best Ending Ever



Last Sunday, it was what kind of endings we liked best.

But this Sunday, right to the point, what are some of the best endings in books? James Hynes' NEXT dropped me on the floor not long ago. It was literally out of the blue. But I know as many people who hated it as liked it.

And I will never forget the satisfaction that came at the end of A PLACE OF EXECUTION by Val McDermid.

Inevitable, satisfying, and a bit of surprise--that's what I liked in these two.

What's your favorite ending to a book?

26 comments:

George said...

I love the ending of A. S. Byatt's POSSESSION. When I was a kid, the ending to I, THE JURY floored me. It was pretty powerful for a 12-year-old.

Margot Kinberg said...

I'll throw in a vote for the ending of Agatha Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Brilliant!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Speaking of kids, some of the best endings are in kids' books. Tom's Midnight Garden sticks with me.

Deb said...

The ending of Henry James's THE TURN OF THE SCREW. No matter how many times I read it, I'm always floored by (SPOILER) Miles's death.

Charles Gramlich said...

hum, good question. I've been reading a lot of short stories lately so the ending of the story may have a different feel than the ending of the book as a whole. Silence of the Lambs and Misery have pretty good endings.

Anonymous said...

A PLACE OF EXECUTION is one of my favorite books, so obviously I'd agree with you there.

Otherwise, I need to think a while.

Jeff M.

Chris Rhatigan said...

A TURN OF THE SCREW is a very good one. I also love love love the twist in ENDER'S GAME.

Anonymous said...

Here's one: A HELL OF A WOMAN by Jim Thompson. My review at the time was "a hell of an ending."

Jeff M.

Cullen Gallagher said...

I'm with Jeff. A HELL OF A WOMAN has a truly unforgettable ending. One of Thompson's finest moments as a stylist and a storyteller.

Elmore Leonard's FORTY LASHES LESS ONE also has a terrific ending. No one has ridden off into the sunset like that before!

le0pard13 said...

'L.A. Requiem' by Robert Crais (a close second would be his 'The Forgotten Man').

pattinase (abbott) said...

Every time I pick a topic like this, I realize how many books lie unread on my shelves.

Dave Zeltserman said...

Hell of a Woman is a good one. Savage Night and The Getaway, also by Jim Thompson, better ones IMHO. Hard to beat Double Indemnity for noir endings-chilling ending. The Name of the Game is Death by Dan Marlowe also terrific. Non noir, 1984 by Orwell and Something Happened by Joseph Heller are exceptional.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I don't remember many endings sadly. I just remember characters that I liked or were interesting. The ones I do remember are often ones made into movies--like DI.

Dave Zeltserman said...

Patti, the book and movie endings of Double Indemnity are completely different. The book's ending is much more chilling, and would still be even if they used the movie's original ending.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Now I have to read the book again.

Did they change THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE too.

Dave Zeltserman said...

No, the John Garfield Postman was very faithful to the book, and most of Double Indemnity is also faithful, but the book's ending would've been difficult back then. The Steve McQueen version of The Getaway is also faithful up until the end when they tack on a relatively happy ending to replace the hellish apocalyptic ending of the book, which to be fair, would've been near impossible to film.

Todd Mason said...

Except that the McQueen/Peckinpah version revels in the degradation.

Orwell always good for an ending...certainly ANIMAL FARM rivals 1984.

Evelyn Waugh's THE LOVED ONE. The end of Robert Bloch's NIGHT-WORLD was oddly affecting to me, given how relatively terse it is...I was young, and it promised that Such Things Will Continue, which was certainly sobering.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Big endings seem required in fantasy and SF. Maybe less so in other books.

karabekirus said...

The Long Kill by Reginald Hill has a great cinematographic ending. Alas, cannot say more...

pattinase (abbott) said...

Just read and loved ON BEULAH HEIGHTS so I am tempted.

Todd Mason said...

Eh, not really. Only the Orwells among my books are fantasy or sf (one each), while Bloch's NIGHT-WORLD is one of his last medium-to-hardboiled noir/suspense novels (the last, aside from the PSYCHO sequels, I think), and of course THE LOVED ONE is a pretty savage but unfantasticated satire.

Meanwhile, much of the best of fantastic-literature novels have rather subtle endings, ranging from most of Jack Vance's work to most of Joanna Russ's to Fritz Leiber's to folks ranging from Carol Emshwiller to Kurt Vonnegut. End with a bang is no more common than the bang in the middle or the beginning, I'd suggest.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

I agree with you, Patti. I don't remember endings either. For the moment, though, I'll go with THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE where the fate of Michael Henchard is sealed the minute he auctions off his wife and daughter. He dies a lone death in the end.

pattinase (abbott) said...

If I remember correctly JUDE THE OBSCURE did not end well either. Hardy was brutal.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

I'm halfway through JUDE... and am lovin' it.

Brian Lindenmuth said...

The ending of Four Corners of Night is one of the best I've encountered.

Another favorite book of mine, Set This House in Order by Matt Ruff, has a reveal near the end that I consider to be the greatest reveal of all time.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Loved Four Corners. I think I have that Ruff book around somewhere. Or maybe another one by him.