One of my favorite endings is the ending to Things Invisible to See, which I imagine would be a more problematic book if I reread it now, because it literally has a Magical Negro–Cold Friday–in it. The only black person that I remember in the whole book is literally magical. But the premise of the end of the book is that the protagonist has to win a baseball game against a team the Devil puts together in order to save the boy she loves. And the Devil has at his disposal all of the baseball greats and the gals are just the gals, ordinary women left behind in World War II. But then the guys on the all-star all-star team cheat to lose. They throw the game for the girls. It’s just tremendous and says something I really like about the kinds of generosity we’re all capable of.
The most perfect, but terrible, ending of a book is Huck Finn which is just Twain’s way of saying “I can come up with no plausible ending for this book, so I’m going to send everyone to Oklahoma. Also, Tom Sawyer sucks. Never ask me to write about him again.” But there is no plausible good ending. So, there you go.
I really admired how Horns meshed every single thing back together in its end, like Chekhov’s gun firing in order to set off a Rube Goldberg machine of things falling into place. And yet, somehow it didn’t feel like “Oh, come on!” but more “Oh, yes, of course.”
This is kind of a tangent, but I’ve been having a kind of ongoing email discussion about how it seems like some folks really believe they live in a world full of supervillains–like that women who seem perfectly ordinary are secretly murderers, and, in the case of black women, genocidal murderers; or that men who love other man are secretly reveling in their own disgusting degradation and corrupting immorality; and so on. I know there are religious reasons for this, but it’s really hard for me to understand this as anything other than pitching your lot in with make-believe.
You’d rather live in a world where you, humble you, with only your faith to protect you, are surrounded and besieged by evil than to live in a world where people are pretty much like you, but different, and the sadists and blatant evil-doers actually make up a very small portion of the population.
Honestly, it’s easy for me to understand why. It’s much more exciting. It gives regular life some kind of overarching story or purpose. And it feeds religious certainty–everything confirms that what you’re thinking is right–which also feels awesome. I mean, religious certainty is certainly a lot more fun than not knowing if something has meaning or what it might mean or whether you’re interpreting it correctly or what.
Certainty feels better than uncertainty.
It’s easy to choose to live as if everyone is your enemy.
But I wonder, once you realize it’s just not true, what you’d be willing to give up to live in the mundane, boring world. If you can live in a fake world that suits you better, why would you ever come back to us?