S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen

The End of Generosity

For tamaranth, as a followup to our Not-the-Clarke-Award discussion, and anyone else who has read Generosity:

Now that I know how tamaranth and R thought Generosity ended, I reread those last two pages. On second examination, I suspect their reading is the one the author intended: a meeting again in the afterlife. It's telegraphed in more than one phrase, lines which I took metaphorically and which should probably be read more literally.

Unhelpfully, the you-can-only-be-happy-when-you-are-dead is THE ending I most hate, as a general rule, in a book or movie. And yet, it is a relief for me to see that this is a viable reading of the ending, compared to the one I ended with. I still would not have been happy with that ending, encountering it the first time; but it's better than my original one.

I read the ending as saying that more-or-less none of the book had happened, that the author had made up the central character. It was a complete betrayal of an ending. It unraveled the whole story for me. It was, however, an ending consistent with the book having an authorially self-conscious framework built into the text itself, if not a nice one at all.

The pivotal lines are these: "And I'm here again, across from the daughter of happiness as I never will be again, in anything but story." And, same paragraph, "She's still alive, my invented friend, just as I conceived her, still uncrushed by the collective need for happier endings."

I read the ending this way: "in anything but story" - the only place he has ever encountered her. "My invented friend" - she never existed in the first place.

But I acknowlege, re-reading it, that the first sentence of the final paragraph, "The time for deciding is after you're dead" is probably meant literally, while I read it with a touch of sarcasm the first time. And I still find my version of the ending hard to escape, so thoroughly has it been the way I understood it.

I keep thinking about the geography of the world of Generosity too, but that's another post.
Tags: books, sf

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