Tuesday, April 12, 2011

dead good

One thing I do remember observing in the ill-fated phantom book review of the other day was that the thing of someone dying and leaving some sort of artefact or artefacts for those left behind to sift through for meaning, and probably find out some unexpected and perhaps unpalatable truths that they weren't aware of while the dead person was alive, is quite a common fictional trope - books that spring to mind that use a similar plot device include:
I also remember theorising that the general downer-ness of the book pointed to the author just having generally been in a bad mood when he wrote it: the canonical example of this is Douglas Adams' shift in mood between writing the fabulously cheery and optimistic So Long And Thanks For All The Fish and the corrosively sour and gloomy Mostly Harmless. I seem to remember an interview in which he bemoaned this, blaming it on some parallel grimness in his personal life, and expressed a wish to go back and redress the balance - presumably by some time-travel or parallel-universe trickery, since everyone dies at the end of Mostly Harmless - unfortunately he carelessly keeled over and died before he could do so, which I don't suppose improved his mood any.

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