Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Endings never-ending

Here's my tuppence worth on Tove Jansson's Fair Play (Rent spel - see left). Whether you loved or hated it, please add your initial thoughts and points for discussion in the comments section!

I hope everyone enjoyed reading this slight, delicate, subtle book. I certainly enjoyed re-reading it.

There were many things about the stories and characters that struck me, but what really intrigued me were the endings. In fact, they intrigued me so much I've decided to make them the theme for my response.

For me, this is a book of endings:
The vignettes somehow falling over themselves to finish, although they're never in a rush.
The characters so busy caught up in the midst of the story/work, that the ending comes suddenly, and slips by, almost unnoticed until a new beginning arrives.

Jansson's endings always seem to seal the story neatly, but never hermetically.

Like Mari's novels, the stories are never truly finished - there's no beginning-middle-end to speak of - and yet each one does cease before the new one commences.

Often, the ending is just a line that alters the tone of the story - that sets an off-kilter emotion back on track so that Jonna and Mari's quietly constant love affair can continue. Sometimes, there's more to it than that - the last sentence becomes a key that unlocks the story, exposing a new meaning. An example is Viktoria, where the deadpan dead calm that meets the morning, showing Jonna and Mari's fears for the boat to have been unfounded, as of course they were. The storm and the peril of Viktoria at the forefront of this story seem to me to symbolise the odd, disconnected game being played by the two characters. The storm's noise represents the cloak of misunderstanding and disregard for one another's stories. It also creates a game of Chinese whispers, in which each of the narratives gets caught and whisked away before it has had a chance to be finished. The stillness of the ending shows the reader that the Chinese whispers were nothing but a storm in a teacup, the unexpected mini-jibes no more harmful to Jonna and Mari's relationship than the waves and the rain to Viktoria's bows.

So much goes unspoken in these stories - there is so little that needs to be said. And the absence of small talk makes the clarity of the relationship between the two women resonate. Their understanding of one another is neverending - their disagreements agreeable, agreed upon. Their need for space and privacy a welcome change from the clinging passion that is so often presented as the perfect form of love affair.

"Excellent," Mari said. "Wonderful. Endings can be really hard."

1 comment:

  1. Wonderfully simple writing which belies
    the meaningful content.---4.5