I always knew where my parents hid the Christmas presents, usually months before December. They hid them, always, in the usual place -- in their closet, on the upper shelves. I'd get a chair and rummage about, because I knew the toys or music stand or books were up there, somewhere. And I knew a few other things, as well; I knew I wouldn't get my horse, or my piano. About that, I was quite sure. But not absolutely certain, and thought I might, just might, find an envelope that said -- well, I don't know what it would have said, because I never found the envelope, so it didn't say.
Still, I didn't like suspense then. I don't like suspense now. To know the end, from the beginning -- if I could have that, I would promise to walk all the steps in between.
That's why I like books. Books let me read as I wish I could live. If the first few pages capture my imagination, then I skip to the end. And the middle, well, the middle -- it's pudding. All the irony, humor, tragedy, joy would be lost on me, if I didn't know how it all held together.
When I was introduced to The Dead, by James Joyce, I read the first, the finish, and then the middle. And that's the way I read it to this day.
The story is much better, knowing the end from the start. That Gabriel will find a state of grace. A gently sad grace. Without knowing that, from the beginning, by the end, you have to start all over again. Which, on second thought, is a gift, after all.
The movie is true and faithful to the text, and lovely in its own right. It was John Huston's last. If you haven't seen it, then let's open with the final scene. I do think they're among the most beautiful words ever strung together in the English language.