The Snappy Ending

Chick-lit and rom coms would be a different genre and kettle of fish without the happy ending. Turn to Wikipedia (where else?) for a definition, and you find that “a happy ending is an ending of the plot of a work of fiction in which almost everything turns out for the best for the protagonists, their sidekicks and almost everyone except the villains.” There is even an extract from a 1968 Times review reproduced by Wikipedia: “The hero must triumph over his enemies as surely as Jack must kill the giant in the nursery tale. If the giant kills Jack, we have missed the whole point of the story.” Yes. The giant must never trample Jack. Villains must not be allowed to age gracefully into retirement homes and the gangster must never ever get the girl. We need the happy ending. One shudders to think of the Evil Queen hanging around after her successful poisoning of Snow White. Do we really want her to be Botox-free-fairest of them all? Why, the world would be a dark, windowless place indeed. Life wouldn’t be worth living, not because there wouldn’t be any happy endings – but because of our need to believe that happy endings do exist.

Drafting a pitch for my manuscript for a young adult novel, I said to a seasoned fellow writer the other day that teenagers still need happy endings. She looked at me quizzically and said, ‘Are you actually going to write that?’ She then asked me to go away and Google the words “happy ending”. So now I know that it’s a pseudonym used without irony in Thai erotic massage. I am now ashamed to admit how naive and ignorant I have been not knowing what everyone else seems to know. But I’m still not happy about it, though – why did “happy endings” have to be hijacked by the masseurs when they could have called whatever they do “snappy endings” instead? Literature should be allowed its happy endings. Like happy hour, a happy ending in life is only too brief, but wonderful as long as it lasts.

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