Topic of the Week:
September 27-October 1, 2010
Endings are the point of know return in a novel. Some readers demand happy endings with all of the strings tied in a pretty bow, while others like playing with the strings to tease and tangle into slipknots of their own conclusions. This week in #litchat we’re discussing ambiguity and how it affects the ending of a novel.
Joining us as guest host of #litchat on Friday, October 1, is master of mystery and ambiguity, Thomas H. Cook. Cook’s revelation of characters and motives, his skillful build of tension as he reels clues in and out is so subtle you don’t realize you’re hooked until you can’t lay down the book. And the ending? Make your own conclusion, but in the end you’ll be satisfied.
Cook’s latest novel, The Last Talk With Lola Faye, proves again how his uncanny ability to tie slipknots of endings. The majority of narrative takes place over the course of one night, but covers lifetimes. On a book tour for his marginally successful history book, jaded author Lucas Page drones on about his new book, Fatal Choices. In the audience sits his father’s former mistress, Lola Faye, the woman he blamed for his father’s murder and the subsequent death of his mother. After the lecture, Lola Faye engages Lucas in a round of drinks and enthralls him for hours in lengths of memory—both hers and his—untying the threads Lucas thought were forever knotted in the past. By the end of the novel the strings are loose once again, leaving the reader to tie them as they will.
Thomas H. Cook is the author of more than 20 books, including works of true crime. His novels have been nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Macavity Award and the Dashiell Hammett Prize. The Chatham School Affair won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel in 1996. His true crime book, Blood Echoes, was nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1992, and his story “Fatherhood” won the Herodotus Prize in 1998 and was included in Best Mystery Stories of 1998, edited by Otto Penzler and Ed McBain. His works have been translated into 15 languages. He lives in New York City and Cape Cod.
Read the chatscripts from this week’s discussions:
Follow Thomas H. Cook on Twitter: @thomashcook.