Sad books are bad books?

Via MetaFilter: The Happy Endings Foundation "believes children’s books should only have happy endings. It urges parents to buy positive books for their children."

Now, that would be a lot less laughable if it weren’t for the fact that it’s just a bizarre kind of astroturf marketing ploy for the Lemony Snicket series. But as a life-long book junky and former public library employee, I am aware of how pervasive is the school of thought that believes all books should end (relatively) happily.

What do you think? Are unhappy endings just a reflection of reality, or should fiction strive for the positive?

[tags]fiction, stories, endings[/tags]

3 thoughts on “Sad books are bad books?”

  1. I think that we, as a culture, have progressed to the point where we can accept that sometimes the endings aren’t happy. I think the more important thing is that there is closure.

    The best SF and Horror has unhappy endings, but we still feel closure to the story, and we’re happy about it. Or it teases the sequel (if it’s TV or film).

    I think we were ready for Voldemort to kill Harry in HP7. As long as the good guys had won, it would’ve been acceptable.

    Anyway, in terms of kid lit… “Bridge to Terabithia” had a really sad ending… but it was a great book and film. Should we ban it because it has a bad ending?

    (No, apparently we should ban it because the kids use their imaginations. But that’s another story.)

  2. I wouldn’t say that every book has to have a happy ending, but personally, as an adult, I find there’s quite enough drama and sadness in real life (just turn on the news). When I turn to books or movies I’m looking for escapism, not more of the same.

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