10 of the Most Gloriously Frustrating Endings in Literature

There’s been an interesting back-and-forth happening in the books section of the Guardian’s website this week, catalyzed by the publication of a kinda vapid blog post about how “narratives that finish without resolving their plots… are unending torture for readers.” If that premise annoys you, you’re not the only one, and sure enough, yesterday the paper published another post rebutting the initial argument. At Flavorpill, we tend to fall into the camp who love a good ambiguous ending, so here are a few of our favorites, endings we’ve found either thrilling, maddening or just thought-provoking — what are yours? (And, of course, the very nature of this post means that spoilers obviously abound, so if you see the cover of a book/play/etc you haven’t read, proceed at your own risk!)

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Apart from the consistently brilliant prose, the bewildering array of characters and Wallace’s singular sense of humor, perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Infinite Jest is that it’s a 1,000+ page novel wherein the most important events to the narrative never actually get narrated. We can understand why readers might feel cheated after slogging through all those pages, plus the innumerable footnotes, only to be confronted with “…and the tide was way out” rather than any sort of resolution — if anything, though, it made us want to return to the start of the book and start reading again.