March 16th, 2011 / 2:53 pm
Snippets

What are some good books that have happy endings and don’t suck shit?

82 Comments

  1. Mike Young

      Ulysses

  2. Lincoln Michel

      Can I count A Fan’s Notes by Exley since the actual awesome book is the result of the struggles in the text?

  3. alanrossi

      i have a hard time thinking of “happy.” maybe House of Leaves. Deliverance, too. but neither of these are exactly happy, i don’t think, but certainly end on more hopeful or rising notes. Omensetter’s Luck has Furber’s change of heart, of course. Jesus’ Son.

  4. Lincoln Michel

      Jesus’ Son ends on a positive note.

  5. jh

      Barthelme’s Paradise

  6. Gabe Durham

      That’s the one I immediately went to.

  7. JScap

      The Fermata, Baker — the way things turn out couldn’t be better for Arno.

  8. jh

      That’s a seriously great book.

  9. Lincoln Michel

      I’m sure that countless genre books, especially fantasy books, end on happy notes with evil vanquished and everyone happy. Some of those are probably good.

      This question is making me realize I don’t remember the exact ending note of a lot of my favorite books though…

  10. Gabe Durham

      Then We Came to the End, kinda.

  11. Lauri

      Stuart Little.

      “Stuart rose from the ditch, climbed into his car, and started up the road that led to the north. The sun was just coming up over the hills on his right. As he peered ahead into the great land that stretched before him, the way seemed long. But the sky was bright, and he somehow felt he was headed in the right direction.”

  12. Scott Riley Irvine

      Invitation to a Beheading is the first one that comes to mind.
      Perhaps Amis’s Money?

  13. Frank Tas

      Calvin & Hobbes: It’s a Magical World

      I forget if Master and Magarita had a happy ending. I think it did? I think Heart of a Dog did.

      Catch 22

      Some Elmore Leonard books

      “Red” by Maxim Gorky?

  14. Anonymous

      I thought Jesus’ Son too. I think Felicia’s Journey has a sort of light at the end of the tunnel, though an unfamiliar one. I don’t know. It seems like all the books I’m thinking of only seem uplifting at the end because they’re so depressing throughout. But, that’s the only kind of happy ending you’re gonna get, one that comes about after a lot of shit happens. Otherwise, it’s just happy-happy-happy! Oh Siddhartha has a happy ending, yeah? What could be better than that ending?

  15. D Erlewine

      The Things They Carried is a happy ending in the final story/chapter (Lives of the Dead): “I’m skimming across the surface of my own history‚Ķ thirty years later, I realize it is as Tim trying to save Timmy’s life with a story.”

  16. goner

      Delillo’s Underworld has a pretty happy ending and that book didn’t suck.

  17. Janey Smith

      Sade’s The 120 Days of Sodom.

  18. Gillian W

      Tim Winton’s Dirt Music

  19. D Erlewine

      D Cooper’s “The Sluts”

      kidding. i have no more to offer

  20. blm

      Nabokov’s “The Gift,” Woolf’s “To the Lighthouse,” Tolstoy’s “The Forged Coupon”…

  21. JimR

      Technically, the “end” is a flashback, so does it qualify as a happy ending? Leopold and Molly are unfulfilled, unfaithful, and incommunicative, yet sleep in the same bed every night. Super sad, IMO.

  22. Guesty

      Jane Eyre

  23. stephen

      I second this. This is what I thought of first. A chronological reading via plot doesn’t seem logical in the context of Ulysses, in my opinion, JimR. Also, I would say there is an implication that those memories are coloring the present moment, chronologically-speaking.

  24. stephen

      The Waves (though a part of me sort of doesn’t care for/isn’t sure about the final sentence(s), which is what supplies the happy ending)

  25. GiovanniGF

      To my surprise, a lot of John Cheever’s short stories had happy endings.

  26. stephen

      damn, yeah, the ending of “To the Lighthouse” is sweet

  27. Nathan Goldman

      Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath
      Salinger’s Franny and Zooey
      JSF’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (maybe)

  28. karl taro

      you mean in a massage sense, right?

  29. stephen

      I second Franny and Zooey. Love that book. I wouldn’t bet money that Blake thinks it doesn’t suck shit, though

  30. Nathan Goldman

      Second.

  31. Omar De Col

      uh, ever heard of ‘The Holy Bible’ guys? jesus.

  32. Mike Young

      I am thinking more of Molly’s conviction and construction of her mood; albeit, the mood’s a stilted one in the context of her reality, as you point out. Also, I admit, I was somewhat trying to mildly josh the subject and jostle the definition of happy.

  33. Court

      Ada.

  34. stephen

      in my recollection, the memories climax with the moment of Leopold proposing marriage and Molly accepting, and as well, Joyce purposely picked what he called the most affirmative word in the English language, capitalized for emphasis, Yes

      so, Yes, happy ending

  35. deadgod

      That’s a great call, Mike.

      The ‘happiness’ is surely severely qualified: Stephen still has disappointed his dying mother, and still has his jolly-profligate father and poverty-stained siblings and his own not-fitting-in with Ireland, and Bloom and Molly still have dead Rudy and each other’s infidelities.

      But I think Molly is confirmed in her preference for Bloom – I think yes I said yes I will Yes indicates her response to Bloom now – , and a father has found a ‘son’ and a son a ‘father’, and there’s a tremendous channeling of joy over the final three sections.

      So, “happy” in the primary sense of ‘fated; lucky’ and the secondary sense of ‘joyous’.

  36. deadgod

      Pierre’s insanity consisted in the fact that he did not wait, as before, for personal reasons, which he called people’s merits, in order to love them, but love overflowed his heart, and, loving people without reason, he discovered the unquestionable reasons for which it was worth loving them.

      Natasha and Pierre become happy.

  37. reynard

      here come the warm jets

  38. deadgod

      The Moviegoer has a complicated, joyous ending.

  39. Spotterama

      The Masters of Atlantis, True Grit (sorta kinda), Gringos, all by Charles Portis.

  40. Trey

      Wuthering Heights I thought was pretty good, but I think people generally don’t like that book maybe. I wish I could remember more books I’ve read.

  41. romeo jones

      most canonical Victorian-era novels. take your pick pretty much.

  42. Joseph Young

      I thought of Grapes of Wrath, though it’s a weird kinda happy. I balled my eyes out reading that. In a sorta similar way is the end of The Road. I mean, that tiny bright spot of utterly hopeless hope is breath taking. A less qualified happy ending miught be Passage to India.

  43. Joseph Young

      I thought of Grapes of Wrath, though it’s a weird kinda happy. I balled my eyes out reading that. In a sorta similar way is the end of The Road. I mean, that tiny bright spot of utterly hopeless hope is breath taking. A less qualified happy ending miught be Passage to India.

  44. Kevin Spaide

      You’ve got a point there. How many hundreds of novels have I read – and not much comes to mind. Didn’t Hunger end sort of happily? War and Peace? James Lovelock’s The Revenge of Gaia had a happy ending.

  45. Kevin Spaide

      You’ve got a point there. How many hundreds of novels have I read – and not much comes to mind. Didn’t Hunger end sort of happily? War and Peace? James Lovelock’s The Revenge of Gaia had a happy ending.

  46. Kevin Spaide

      Frog and Toad are Friends!

  47. Kevin Spaide

      Frog and Toad are Friends!

  48. Joseph Riippi

      This is a tough question, because if I liked the book enough to determine it as “good,” then I would consider that a happy ending as far as I’m concerned. I finished Blood Meridian with a smile on my face. Moby Dick the same (Tashtego’s arm gripping the bird? I mean, come on! Happy!) When By Night in Chile ended and the damn paragraph finally broke into a sentence I won’t give away, it wasn’t a happy sentence, but damn itif it wasn’t a beautiful ending.

      An ending full of smiley-happy people in a book with few redeemable qualities is a sad ending, far as I’m concerned.

      But insofar as the intent of the question, then i suppose Jesus’ Son, sure, that makes sense, as well as most political autobiographies (at least the ones that come out within two years of a term-ending).

  49. Joseph Riippi

      This is a tough question, because if I liked the book enough to determine it as “good,” then I would consider that a happy ending as far as I’m concerned. I finished Blood Meridian with a smile on my face. Moby Dick the same (Tashtego’s arm gripping the bird? I mean, come on! Happy!) When By Night in Chile ended and the damn paragraph finally broke into a sentence I won’t give away, it wasn’t a happy sentence, but damn itif it wasn’t a beautiful ending.

      An ending full of smiley-happy people in a book with few redeemable qualities is a sad ending, far as I’m concerned.

      But insofar as the intent of the question, then i suppose Jesus’ Son, sure, that makes sense, as well as most political autobiographies (at least the ones that come out within two years of a term-ending).

  50. Sean

      Suttree

  51. Jane

      Bullet Park by John Cheever

  52. tai carmen

      This taps into one of my pet peeves, literarily speaking. It’s as if writers are afraid to write redemptive endings because it’s never done in “real literature” and so simply produce more and more of the same, creating a status quo that everyone is too brainwashed by the fear of being labeled “light reading” to attempt.

      It’s harder to write a chillingly poignant happy ending than a chillingly poignant sad ending…but damn it, I wish they would try. I have bones to pick with the endings of all my favorite books (White Noise, The Wind Up Bird Chronicles, A Gate At The Stairs…)

      It’s a good question. I’ll check out some of these. Thanks!
      http://www.taicarmen.wordpress.com

  53. interference

      Kafka’s Metamorphosis

  54. dean

      the your face tomorrow trilogy ends happily, which is saying something considering all the shit that happens in the books. herzog by saul bellow has a nice ending. disgrace by j.m. coetzee is pretty good, too (just kidding, it’s one of the saddest of all time).

  55. dean

      the your face tomorrow trilogy ends happily, which is saying something considering all the shit that happens in the books. herzog by saul bellow has a nice ending. disgrace by j.m. coetzee is pretty good, too (just kidding, it’s one of the saddest of all time).

  56. cameron pierce

      The Palm-Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola has a happy ending. Most of the Brautigan books I can think of right now have happy endings. Washer Mouth: The Man Who Was a Washing Machine by Kevin Donihe too.

  57. Michael Goroff

      The Road? I guess it’s not happy-happy, but it made me feel okay, sort of.

  58. Ken Baumann

      How It Is.

  59. Scott Riley Irvine

      Complicating what doesn’t need to be complicated.

  60. Dan Moore

      Sputnik Sweetheart and After Dark by Haruki Murakami. The Human Comedy by William Saroyan. Some great Updike stories, especially “The Happiest I’ve Been” and “Pigeon Feathers.”

  61. Frank Tas

      Also Cannery Row

      and

      Sent for You Yesterday, John Edgar Wideman

  62. jh

      What?

  63. southridge

      Michael Ondaatje’s IN THE SKIN OF A LION. Sort of. Also, the ending of Mark Helprin’s great novella “Ellis Island” comes to mind.

      Or LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA? It’s been so long since I’ve read it that I can’t remember it exactly.

      I’ll second THE MOVIEGOER and HERZOG as good happy-endings-with-a-caveat.

  64. Dreezer

      You balled your eyes out? Damn!

  65. Jeff

      I second Nabokov’s “The Gift.” And there’s also his “Invitation to a Beheading.”

      Calvino’s “If on a winter’s night a traveler” for sure.

      Plus I’d make a case for Cormac McCarthy’s “Suttree.”

  66. skauffy

      Monsieur by Jean-Phillipe Toussaint has a happy ending in that monsieur finds a girl and they seem to like to be sad together.

  67. Bugsy

      Nicholson Baker’s books all have pretty up endings, I think.

  68. Anonymous

      Does Murakami ever not fuck up his endings?

      Also, too many cats.

  69. Anonymous

      Does Murakami ever not fuck up his endings?

      Also, too many cats.

  70. Anonymous

      When things are dialed back to the guy only having has his legs broken (do I remember that correctly?) I did feel a sense of relief and happiness, which actually is disgusting and awful when I think about it now (“lucky guy didn’t get his balls sawed off in a filthy sink, just beat with a bat. yay for him!”), but which is a testament to Cooper’s absolute skill.

  71. Rion Amilcar Scott

      1984 has a happy ending. The epilogue is the novel’s true ending. Not the narrative where Winston gets popped in his head.

      The epilogue is of that world and written at a time when that repressive state is no more. Very hopeful ending.

  72. sm

      old but good: The Odyssey, The Book of Job, The Ethiopian Story, The Betrothed, The Manuscript Found in Saragossa, Sense and Sensibility (and Pride and Prejudice), Bleak House (more or less), Tom Jones, Pamela, Middlemarch. The Talented Mr. Ripley (if you consider getting away with murder a happy ending).

  73. BAC

      The Death of Sweet Mister. Dude finally gets to bone his mom.

  74. Lincoln Michel

      haha

  75. Rick Hale

      Glass Bead Game. Also Journey to the East.

  76. John Minichillo

      Unbearable Lightness of Being (an anti-nuke rally). Falconer (ever prison novel should end with an escape).

  77. seafar

      REMAINDER ends happy.

  78. Pascal

      Dennis Cooper’s Try and David Lynch’s Inland Empire.

  79. Alex W. Henderson

      The Woman in the Dunes, yo!

      And maybe Watership Down? Do we count that as a good book?

  80. mat

      A Personal Matter

  81. mat

      A Personal Matter

  82. davidk

      Falling in Place – Ann Beattie