“Even if writers become immortal, books must end,…”


Editing the second book in my series of six “Sophie and Sam” mysteries, this phrase is meaningful in a practical sense.  I am about three-thousand words over my self-imposed limit.  The longer the book, the more it will cost, and I am determined to keep a paperback under $15, which means 300 pages in the larger print I prefer.

The phrase is even more profound; it goes on:  “and it is by reaching the end that the reader can sit back and find meaning in the journey.”

Books must endAbraham Verghese, a professor of medicine at Stanford, reviewed Long For This World, the Strange Science of Immortality, by Jonathan Weinen.  It appeared in the New York Times Book Review August 1.  Weiner had written about what happens after our reproductive years:  “”the random crumpling of what had been neatly folded origami, or the erosion of stone.  The withering of the roses in the bowl is as drunken and disorderly as their blossom was regular and precise.”  Our bodies fill up with cellular junk.  Weiner details the junk, but goes on to talk about “Methusalah mutants,” people who live much longer than average (currently 80).  He points out that there is a problem with immortality.  The action and drama in the stages of life described by Shakespeare, for instance, leave an indefinite number of years when nothing happens.

Maybe some of you feel as I do, that things are happening in the world, and they have very little interest to us.  Either we’ve seen it all before, or it is inferior to what we want for ourselves and descendants.

Verghese doesn’t say this, but I will:  I don’t want to live beyond the point of appreciating life, or of being appreciated.  Doctors and researchers, take note.  An ending is called for.  Leave it be.  Lock the lab.  Go home to your wives and children while you still are in a neatly folded origami state.

Photo montage by Trudy Heeb.

8 comments to “Even if writers become immortal, books must end,…”

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