Lamb Chops for Dinner: What happens when the Fairy Tale ends badly?
I write books with happy endings because I like fairy tales. I don’t want to go all ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ on you, but in a nutshell, I hate sad endings, which leave me feeling deprived. It also keeps me out of a lot of book clubs where people sit around and talk about the meaning underneath the meaning.
I read or listen to, over seventy books/audiobooks a year. In the last week, I’ve read the biography of the Hilton Family (trash), the latest Stewart Woods title, Carnal Curiosity, a tale of sleazy Stone Barrington (typical, but satisfying), and a highly critically acclaimed book by an author I’ll never read again, which I’ll call: Book Sad.
Here is why I’ll never read anything by the Book Sad’s author EVER again: It had a tragically sad ending that made no sense.
I have a stressful job; elements of my personal life can be challenging, but rewarding. I read or listen to books to escape. I invested twelve hours into Book Sad. It shattered a hero and heroine’s love for each other with a selfish conquest on the part of the hero, who was married to ‘the most beautiful woman in the world’. Then the author killed the hero and their child off hours before a much anticipated reconciliation with the heroine. Suicide was hinted at, but never explained. The author got really detailed in two areas: 1. The cheating hero, who acts like pig-dog in sex scenes. 2. The child’s death after the plane crash. ‘Little Johnny had been decapitated, his body found floating in the water’.
As for the ending of Book Sad, the author didn’t tell it to you straight like I just did. He had a happy ending with a reunited family, taking you through the remaining years of their lives, including the hero and heroine’s growing love for each other and forgiveness. Johnny’s adulthood, marriage and children, etc. were described in detail, only to then have the narrator declare: ‘But that ISN’T what really happened. Here is what really happened…’
I am disappointed and angry. My fairy tale ending was thwarted. It evoked the wrong emotion in me. My time felt wasted. As a ‘wanna be’ author, I never want a reader to feel this way. I don’t want to hurt their feelings after they’ve gifted my book with their attention.
In addition to sad endings, which make no sense, I really loathe ‘message’ books. (Ie: the reason I’m not a popular member of any book club.)
For example: Usually, but not always, anything endorsed by Oprah. I’ve read three of Oprah’s picks. In one of her picks, a woman is tortured in every way possible, rape, ridicule, abuse…She loses everyone she’s ever loved in tragic ways and ends up killing herself on the last page. When I finished that book, I threw it across the room. Then I picked it up and tossed it in the trash.
Example number two: Anything by Nicolas Sparks. However, I read a bunch of them after my divorce because they made me cry when the ending crashed into me, reinforcing that happiness and love are fleeting. (Specifically memorable: Nights in Rodanthe and The Guardian.)
Example number three: Stories like The Bridges of Madison County. The chick chose a farmer over a younger Clint Eastwood. And after the farmer dies, she never looks Clint up. I didn’t take her for completely stupid.
Example number four: Danielle Steel’s Lone Eagle. The hero has been dead since page one. The whole damn book was a flashback as the heroine is waiting for news of the hero’s missing plane. Yep, he’s dead.
And so, my friends, despite the taboo against reading the last page first of any novel, I do it all the time. I avoid a lot of lamb chops this way.