Fictional essay: “Happy Endings”

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“Happy Endings,” by Margaret Atwood

According to Wikipedia, this first appeared in the 1983 collection Murder in the Dark; PDF here ; also online here

Maybe 1,200 words?

This blogger compares “Happy Endings” to “The Babysitter,” which seems apt. But “Happy Endings” has no scene and hardly any continuity in characterization, so I’m thinking it falls on the “essay” side of things rather than the “story” side.

I admire Atwood, and I suspect that this piece was remarkable when it was first published (didn’t it get anthologized all over the place?), but I find it distasteful now. All it does is mock the idea of a plot, and since it omits almost everything that makes plots interesting, the mockery hits the mark easily. I am tired of aggressive meaninglessness.

The last line may not be meaningless. It seems like a genuine challenge of some kind. Maybe Atwood is satirizing a particular cliché plot trend that I’m not aware of.