Happy Endings

by | Apr 3, 2012 | Features

Hello all!

I’m writing this article on the heels of Falcons on the Floor’s launch party. In case you haven’t picked up the book yet – oh, ye who shall die witheringly alone on a brown couch – Falcons on the Floor is mainly about two friends Khalil and Salim, who travel up the Euphrates River in the middle of the first siege of Fallujah. Their goal? To find a place with Internet connection where Salim can contact his girlfriend and let her know he’s still alive. Give the guy a medal, won’t you? That is prime husband material in my eye, although I’m curious as to why they never considered exchanging phone numbers (long distance expenses?).

Couches. They are always brown in my mind. Especially when Tom Cruise is jumping on them.

In any case, the duo forge on; Sirois composes the book in such a way that their anxiety and physical isolation encapsulates them in a timeless vacuum, wherein you’re aware of turning the pages and of the fact that Salim is edging dangerously close to the last of his toilet paper supply, but an actual time frame escapes you. Have they been traveling for weeks or days? Is it time for dinner or your children’s college graduations (aren’t you glad I spared you the bratty years?). The only thing I am certain of is that Salim’s laptop battery deserves a place among the gods for its lifespan.

Falcons on the Floor sidesteps the conventional political issues involved when one writes of Iraqis and war and narrows one’s view to the gritty details of humanity that test Salim and Khalil on their journey, an impossibly young journey toward Internet love that becomes much more as their friendship, beliefs, and raw determination are ground to the marrow.

Still not persuaded to pick the book up? Perhaps the perennial question is springing up in your mind: is it a happy ending?

Ironically, happy endings are a contentious subject.* On the one hand, they are the most efficient and easiest type of fanservice barring the birth of Fabio’s pecs. On the other hand, the author shouldn’t sacrifice the integrity of his work if the story needs to evolve a different way.

Pirate. Viking. Rogue. Different types of rascals, same number of pecs.

I should add the caveat here that happy endings may not be happy for everyone involved. Only the lucky characters of worth need be happy for readers to walk away with a smile. As Roger Ebert wrote of The Day After Tomorrow, “Los Angeles is leveled by multiple tornadoes, New York is buried under ice and snow, the United Kingdom is flash-frozen and lots of the Northern Hemisphere is wiped out for good measure. Thank God that Jack, Sam, Laura, Jason, and Dr. Lucy Hall survive, along with Dr. Hall’s little cancer patient.”

Although I am a die-hard romantic, I accept that not all stories are done best with a carriage and a kiss at the end.  As occurs in Falcons on the Floor, (and as Margaret Atwood would have approved of in her short story “Happy Endings”) the more important aspects of “How?” and “Why?” are explored rather than a succession of “What” and “What” and “What” that neatly snip loose all barriers to contentment.

* If you’ll just look back in your history books, you’ll see that the historic Battle of Bath and its tragic casualties could have been avoided if General Plattern had acceded that sometimes people really don’t give a damn and everything goes to hell in a hand basket.