Cheryl Van Eck:
I recently read a book that had an “open for interpretation” ending. I didn’t like it.
It wasn’t an “open for a sequel” type of ending. It was more like, “I, the author, couldn’t decide which of these three endings I wanted so I’m presenting them all and you can choose your favorite.”
On the other hand, this technique was done beautifully in LIFE OF PI. The author presented two versions of the story, and admitted that he was allowing the listener to decide for himself. Now, for me, there was one very clear interpretation of that story…however, the entire English class I was in at the time disagreed with me and called me a pessimist.
They’re probably right. But still.
LIFE OF PI worked because both endings, in reality, were equally plausible. Or equally implausible, if you will. But the one you choose reveals a great deal about you, the reader. And that’s what the greatest books do for us, isn’t it? Reveal to us parts of ourselves we didn’t know existed? Show us the innermost thoughts we didn’t know we had?
What are other examples of books where this technique is used effectively? Have any of you attempted it?
Here’s a picture of my second daughter Laura with our book Sister, Sister.
Release Date: June 17, 2014
Ruth Reichl earned money writing term papers for college classmates while she dreamed of becoming a novelist. She honed cooking skills at home, tried to copy exotic recipes from world travels and from a French restaurant where she waitressed. A friend suggested she could combine her love of food and writing by writing a cookbook. Her book Mmmm. A Feastiary, helped push the early ’70’s into a “cookbook revolution.”
Thinking she must be a “food writer,” various publications wanted a piece of her action . . . obligingly, she became one. But she still dreamed of one-day writing fiction. She finally did it: her book, Delicious!, is available at Costco, among other places. If you’d like to see a little more about her, read the Costco Connection, May 2014 issue, in their book section.
Meanwhile, what are YOU doing, while you “dream” of “becoming” a novelist? And how could you marry those interests with a fiction piece you’d like to author? I taught in Utah’s public schools and universities, for many years. I already knew, during my first 6-year gig, that I wanted to write. You can’t imagine how put out I was while there to read Up the Down Staircase — the things that happened to that “teacher” had all, already, happened to ME! Why hadn’t I written it? And why shouldn’t I write part II of it NOW? What could you write about that you’ve never considered before?