It’s been quite a surprise to me that so many people are baffled by the ending of The Man Who Grew Young. I wonder if it would have been different if I’d ended the book with the Sistine Chapel scene—God stretching his finger out to Adam, and Adam being sucked up into it.
To me, the ending I have is an inevitable ending, the only thinkable ending (but at the same time an ending no one can see coming).
Perhaps the difficulty is that people don’t see that, as always, I’m messing with our cultural mythology. In Genesis Adam comes into the world mythologically and becomes prosaic, a mere a farmer, so in TMWGY (since he’s living backwards) Adam must cease to be prosaic and leave the world mythologically. The point being that the Adam of my book doesn’t end up leaving the world the same way that the Adam of Genesis came into the world. I
f you want to be simplistic, I guess you could say that my point is that Genesis got it all wrong; Adam (Man) didn’t come from the hand of God, he came from the same sea from which all terrestrial life came. (Of course I didn’t consciously work all this out in advance; a novel isn’t just a thesis dressed up in fictional clothes.)
posted: 12 Jan 2002
updated: 12 Jan 2002