I promised John that if I asked about great victories in books, then I would give the flip side a chance the next week. So as promised, today's Monday Discussion is all about the agony of defeat.
Personally, I generally prefer tragedy in my stories. I especially love going to the opera and seeing a long drawn out death scene with the heroine singing a beautiful aria as she dies, like in my favorite opera of all time La Traviata. But one of the reasons I enjoy this at the opera is that after the scene, the actress gets to "come back to life" and take a bow.
But do I prefer tragedy or victory? I think for me, it depends on the book. If a happy ending comes out of a sad book, or conversely, if a sad ending concludes a happy book, I am displeased. I like a consistent tone.
Being that I like odd, darker stories, filled with macabre elements, I guess tragedy is probably a more common outcome in the stories I read, however.
In my opinion, if we are talking pure and utter defeat, nothing beats The Ruins by Scott Smith. I dare you to find a more bleak and hopeless ending. But I love this book because the ending (of the book, not the terrible movie) makes perfect sense given the overall tone of the entire novel.
Of course, I also love the classic tragedies like Hamlet and Macbeth, but I am betting John will have more to say on that, so I will leave it for him.
And then there are more nuanced endings which are tragic in some ways, but also slightly hopeful in others like in Dan Chaon's Await Your Reply. I really liked the way that novel tied up.
Now it is your turn. For today's Monday Discussion, what is your favorite defeat in literature?
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