Sunday, August 05, 2012

Happy Endings

More comments from facebook:

I began the first volume of George Martin's fantasy series and did not like it. There was too much power politics and not enough fantasy, and the books were too big. But I had lunch with Mike Levy and Sandy Lindow yesterday, and Mike very much likes the Martin books. I respect Mike as a reader and critic, so I will have to rethink the Martin series. Maybe I should simply say the problem is with me, and I don't have to like every book, even every good book.

I have a bias toward books with happy endings. I especially like writers such as Dickens and Austen who show us social awfulness -- the misery of Victorian England, the greed and selfishness of the English country gentry in the early 19th century -- but give happy endings to their heroes and heroines. In some ways, these novels are like Measure for Measure -- dark, with an almost arbitrary happy ending. The world is hell, but this is a comedy, so let's get everyone married

Patrick won't let me kill likable characters. He worked with homeless people -- not in shelters, but people living outside in tents and caves by the river -- for more than ten years. Almost everyone he knew and liked died while still fairly young. (The life expectancy for homeless people is less than 50, I think.) He's had all the death he wants. And we have both reached the age when mortality becomes a real issue. We want happy endings.

There is a lot of realism in Dickens and Austen. Dickens is often clearly dark. And if you look closely at Austen's sunny comedies, you will see remarkable examples of meanness, selfishness and greed. Not to mention stupidity. I would not want to live in any of Austen's small towns. The only Austen book that portrays a society I find really likable is Persuasion. I could imagine spending time with the sailors and their wives. Admiral and Mrs. Croft are the happiest marriage in any Austen book. But as I said above, Dickens and Austen give you rather awful societies, but keep a happy ending for the heroes and heroines. I like that.


Blogger Jordan179 said...

I think Martin is working toward an at least happy-for-some ending, but I think the road will be a very dark one for a while. I don't know how far you've gotten in the series, so I don't want to be too specific and spoil some of the events for you.

11:36 AM  
Blogger Lise A said...

Hi there! Just found your blog. Read "My Husband Steinn", found it interesting, thought I had to find out more about this writer. -- Just a thought. I was confused about the "From Facebook" beginning to may of the posts; it doesn't radiate that this was something you wrote on Facebook. Looking forward to reading more from you. Lise

1:26 PM  

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