Passage (was Re: Best of 2001)

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at
Mon Jan 21 16:05:42 EST 2002

On Sun, 20 Jan 2002 01:14:11 +1100, Gross Family wrote:

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Melissa wrote:

>> I think the ambiguity exists to allow different readers, with different
>> belief systems, to interpret it any way they feel most comfortable.  I
>> especially think Willis wasn't trying to say, definitively, "this is what
>> happens after you die."  It's open-ended for a reason.  I remember that
>> first time I read it, I thought it was a sad ending; then I re-read the
>> final section and realized it was a happy ending.  There are no solid
>> answers.

and Ros said:

>I don't think Willis is being open-ended and ambiguous to allow for
>different interpretations so much as she simply wants to say "No-one can
>possibly know what happens after death; whatever it is, it's *not* what we
>think it is." I think I may be saying more or less what you're saying,
>actually! :-)

Sounds like it!  The difference is that you think she's positively stating
something, and I think she's refusing to make a statement one way or the
other.  But it works out to the same position in the end--that the book
doesn't end with an explanation of what comes after death.

>> I didn't love _Passage_ as much as I loved Willis's other books, mainly
>> because I'm not really interested in NDE's (make that actively annoyed by
>> them, but that's irrelevant to this discussion) and because in several
>> places I was aware of phrases and descriptions that had been recycled from
>> her other books.  It kept me from really falling into it.  Still a good
>> book, and one I'll re-read eventually.
>The only other books of her I've read are _Bellwether_ and _To Say Nothing
>of the Dog_; I didn't notice any recycled phrases etc., but I certainly did
>notice the repetition of certain themes. That didn't worry me in itself.
>Perhaps it's more _Doomsday Book_ and other heavier stuff that's similar?

I've read all her books now, and a lot of her stories, and what I can
remember (not that I have any specific examples) was coming across phrases
or ideas or plot elements that I remembered from other books or stories.
Not just repeated themes--which I would expect from an author with strong
opinions on certain subjects--but repeated ways of developing those themes.
Like, "Oh, this was in _Bellwether_," and "she did that in _Doomsday Book_"
and so forth.  It effectively reminded me of ALL her other books at one
point or another.  When I read it again maybe I'll take notes.

I still haven't found any information on what her next book will be and when
it will be available, other than the reference in that interview to the

Melissa Proffitt
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