Stella wants to know: DO YOU PEEK?
Do you peek at the last page of a book . . . ever? Have you ever peeked, just once?
The wiggle in the tummy, the very bottom of the tummy, or the grimace, or the shiver, may hit around the moment you start to care about a character. Why does this happen? Because you're afraid you're falling in love with someone who will die on you just when you'd like to close the book for the last time and think, "Ah, yes!"
The wiggle, shiver, whatever nasty sensation you get may just lead to last-page-longing. But the strong, the intellectually sound, the mature, never give in to this weak, self-indulgent urge.
Some say to peek is to ruin the story. Oh, yeah? A newsflash from this reader: For me, nothing ruins a story like one more example of evil winning over good, the bad guys never getting theirs, and seeing the worthy hopes of heroes and heroines dashed, and sometimes just in the name of making a story "clever."
Excuse me--screeeeeeeech!--now I feel better.
Does this mean I got stuck somewhere back with Angelina's Christmas, or whatever I might have been reading when I was a small kid? No, it means I'm still stuck on Angelina's Christmas and read it every year, just as I do The Grinch and Frosty. But I also moved on. I moved on and went bonkers for stories by people who knew/know how to write drama in which the odds are huge but triumph isn't sold out to a need for acceptance and accolades from any particular peer group.
I should have mentioned, in the first sentence, that I have a major headache:( My mood is "iffy." I watched the final of the World Cup Soccer Tournament, a race in which I didn't have a particular horse, and that caused the headache. For ninety minutes, plus two fifteen minute overtime periods, twenty-two men and some brilliant substitutes went to the mat for the biggest prize in soccer. And at the end of all that what did we have? A 0ne-one tie.
Only a single team gets to take home the golden thingie so on went the intrepid warriors--fantastic players every one--to a ghastly penalty kick shootout for the prize. For those who don't follow soccer, this means the goalie stands in the goalmouth and goes one-on-one with a player from the opposite team. Then the opposing team's goalie gets his turn against a member of his opposite team, and so on, until the tie is broken because either one of the goalies actually SAVES a goal, or because a player (argh, throw-up time) MISSES a goal, and there are no chances left to catch up.
Since someone may wonder what the big deal is here, it's incredibly hard to defend against a penalty kick when the kicker has the whole goalmouth to aim for, and he can fake the direction he intends to take, but the goalkeeper has to make up his mind where he thinks the ball will go and dive in that direction. He dives, the ball doesn't go in the direction he dives, and it's curtains folks. What's my beef with this method of deciding a game? I still believe the best should win. For me, at the end of a one-one tie, they should clone the golden thingie and give one to each team because they are both the best.
Oh, enough, enough, Stella. I did have a point in all this. If I had known that after all the blood, sweat and tears, the fouls, the yellow and red cards--and the absolutely devastating behavior of a man who may well be the best player in the world--the whole enchilada would be awarded on penalty kicks, I wouldn't have watched the match. I really hate having headaches, especially when I have hours of writing ahead of me as I do this evening, so I wish I'd ducked out from the TV when I realized what the end of the "game" would be like.
Well, that's what I got for being mature; a wiggle in my tummy, a lot of shivers and a rotten headache. It won't happen again because I won't watch another shootout--ever. So forgive me if I've been known to peek at the end of a book. Frequently. I've already learned my lesson about fictional endings that ruin not just one, but sometimes a number of days, and the moment I get an inkling that a writer is sharpening up her pen for the kill, of the wrong character, I'm outa there.
Whew, I've exhausted myself with all that confession and passion and risk. What risk, you ask? The arrows already coming my way for committing the ultimate reading sin; that risk!
I asked some questions as I opened this piece. Will you answer? And if you do answer, yay or nay, please explain why?
Have a wonderful week,
PS I did not read the end of WAR AND PEACE until the end came.
PPS I never read the end of any book until the end comes when I know/expect the good guys will finish last.