Monday, August 10, 2009

Utter disappointment.

This day at lunchtime I sat on a park bench with Katie near her work. We ate vegan dumplings and cut up pieces of pineapple with plastic forks and drank from somewhat exorbitantly priced bottles of water. I noticed a boy sitting on a bench next to us. The reason why I noticed him: he was reading, and I love readers. I look at the boy again, to see what he's reading. My heart lights up. Cormac Mccarthy. The Road--a book that I cherish. I point it out to Katie, explaining that I always feel happy when I see people reading, but especially when I see people reading books that I love, and how it was happening just a few feet away.

I found myself drawn to this complete stranger, just because he was holding a book that I have once held, reading words that I have previously pored over. He is nearing the end. Maybe 10 or 15 pages to go. I think about my own experience with that book, and how when I got to that point I was sitting in the back of a plane headed from Dallas to Salt Lake, and sobbing uncontrollably. There was no help for it--I was too profoundly stirred. And so I continued to steal glances, to see how this stranger would take in these last words--not that I expected the same show of emotion that I once exhibited--but because conversations with Tyson, Lee and others who have read this book convinced me that something great was happening within him. I even had trouble concentrating on what Katie was saying. I was so engrossed.

He finished the last page. I watched as he continued to hold the book carefully, and then slowly began turning the pages back. At the risk of looking creepy I asked him if he liked it. I was too invested not to. He turned to me, and to my utter disillusionment, said simply, "No. I didn't like it. I didn't like the ending." Then he asked me if I read it, and if I liked it. "Yes" and "yes." He explained that it didn't have enough closure for him. I tried to commiserate, but privately was dumbfounded. How could he not have liked this ending and this book that meant so much to me? I genuinely could not comprehend, and with his transformative words, selfishly felt like he robbed me of this magical moment, of this picture I had falsely painted.

In fact, it was incredible how poorly I took it.

6 comments:

Drew Danburry said...

this entry in and of itself is a great piece of writing.

Coco said...

A beautiful image and a sad ending indeed. I have met many people who dislike the end but I think it is beautiful in every way, and McCarthy leaves just enough hope to give it the conclusion I desired without making a fairytale. I loved it and I love that you love it too. It changed my life.

ju said...

dito to drew...this scenario feels familiar, i just can't put my finger on exactly where or when...

Rachel. said...

thank you drew, and corinne, and ju. and corinne, I felt the same way about the ending. that the closed window and open door were perfect, and hopeful. it is a life changing book to be sure. I think because of how simple it is. the conversations... and ju, I hope you can remember your own scenario. I am now curious.

Regan Johnson said...

I was coming home on the J train and had quite a few pages left. I got off on my stop, but stayed on the raised platform and finished the book. It was foggy and rainy. I was frustrated and sad and partly disappointed as I read, even though it felt so right. Any other ending would have cheapened the book entirely. Such a great story.

logan said...

This is a great story and I can totally sympathize and understand what you mean about watching him finish the book and wondering about his feelings. Too bad he didn't 'get it.'

I wouldn't say that the book had to end that way, as he could have come up with another equally interesting way, but I did like the ending for the reasons given by you all here. Though, when I finished it I did have to decide whether I felt that way about the ending. It definitely left me thinking about it, and that it something that I love.