Kevin Drum thinks I’ve been fooled:
Oh, Aaron. You’ve been snookered. Stephen King has somehow contrived to make a virtue out of the fact that modern authors are so relentlessly crappy at finishing up their stories. They can write 500 pages of wonderful, well-crafted prose — or, in King’s case, probably 5,000 pages — but most of them simply have no idea how to provide a conclusion that’s equally well crafted and satisfying. Why? I don’t know. But it’s a defect, not a virtue. I don’t know if the ending to the Dark Tower series was any good, but don’t listen to Stephen King. Authors should learn how to write complete narratives. That means a beginning, a middle, and an end. Anything that lets them off the hook for not getting all three parts right — for not giving the ending every bit as much love and attention as the rest of the narrative — should be treated as nothing more than the special pleading that it is.
I will respectfully disagree. I know that Stephen King sometimes gets a bad rap for being so prolific, and there are books of his that didn’t do it for me (ie The Cell). But I think that in modern times there has been too much focus on the “ending”. We expect a twist, or a reveal, or something that elevates the work to a new level.
That’s fine. Sometimes it’s entirely appropriate. And I’m not saying that books can just end with no warning or care. Narratives should be complete. But over 16 years and seven books, many stories were begun and ended. Many journeys started and finished. Characters appeared and died. But in my rush towards an end (which, as I said, I thought was fitting) I started missing what was going on right now.
There’s too much fixation on the end. I think that’s misplaced. I can enjoy books one, two, three, four, five, and six without book seven. I can enjoy book seven without knowing what happens to Roland in the tower. The ending is rarely THE END.
I think that’s worth knowing, and I give credit where it’s due to helping me see that.