Death To The Alternate Ending!
I thought I had finished A Handful of Dust the other day.
The story was at a stopping point. White space had creeped onto the page, and the book appeared to be over.
Then, I flipped the page to read what I presumed to be an afterword or acknowledgements or something similar. On that next page, a centered, bold header stated “Alternate Ending.” Ten more pages of copy followed.
Talk about a buzz kill.
I can somewhat get alternate endings on DVDs. It’s a nice little bonus to throw in there for people who are really fans of the film.
But books? Do we really need alternate endings in books?
I’ve read 200 pages and I’ve bought everything Evelyn Waugh, the author, has sold me. I love the story and I find the characters to be interesting. I’m right there with him the whole way.
Then, we get to the end of the story, an ending that seems fitting to the novel’s tone and plot development, and Waugh (actually, the publisher) throws in a little “Hey, if you didn’t like the way the story really ended, then you can imagine that it ended this way!”
What? Is this a “choose your own adventure” book?
I looked into the alternate ending in A Handful of Dust. Apparently, Waugh had to create a second ending because of copyright issues over the original ending, which had been previously published as a short story called “The Man Who Loved Dickens.”
The alternate ending is weak. So I don’t accept it. I spit it out.
I’ll base my review of A Handful of Dust (coming tomorrow) on the plotline with the original ending.
That said, do alternate endings ever work?
The only good example I can think of is The French Lieutenant’s Woman, but all of those different endings were built into the novel from the beginning. They weren’t a rushed afterthought.
Am I missing something? Do alternate endings ever work?