Give me stories about failure!
July 2, 2018 3:47 PM   Subscribe

My search can be summed up in this tweet thread.

A quote from the above link:
"Still really into the idea of telling more stories about failure and how it's not the end of the world.

Not stories that open with a superficial failure and end with a cathartic triumph that overshadows it; stories where people had a failure and... that's what they get to deal with.

In short. Stories where antagonist[s] have to deal with their failure. They have to live with it. Wallow in it. Be branded by it. Change because of it. The failure has to change their life and they keep on living.

Another example: The movie Pom Poko. It's a story about a group of raccoons who try to save their forest. [Spoiler Alert] They fail. At the end of the movie they have to learn to live their new lives. Some of them kill themselves. Some of them betray their heritage and others learn to live with the failure. But you know(sort of) from the beginning of the movie that they are going to fail.

I'm interested in fiction or non-fiction. Non-fiction should be closer to a well-crafted documentary or a 'This American Life' episode.

Any medium is find. Movie, book, magazine article, short story, podcast or comic.
posted by hot_monster to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
The daddy of all these stories is King Lear.
posted by kingdead at 4:01 PM on July 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Rich Roll just had Utkarsh Ambudkar on his podcast. Ambudkar was the original Aaron Burr for Hamilton - he’s friends with Lin-Manuel Miranda - but he ended up getting kicked out due to his drug addiction. So when Hamilton exploded, he was dealing with his failure in a way few of us will have to. I found it super helpful to hear he survived that.
posted by FencingGal at 4:06 PM on July 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

The Adam and Eve narrative in Milton’s Paradise Lost comes to mind.
posted by Jellybean_Slybun at 5:42 PM on July 2, 2018

This Is Spinal Tap
posted by JonJacky at 7:00 PM on July 2, 2018

posted by colorblock sock at 7:02 PM on July 2, 2018

I don't know what your less-acceptable form of non-fiction is, but if it's interviews, please ignore this podcast link to I Failed So What

Their "about":
"I Failed, So What!?!" is a podcast about chasing your dreams, occasionally failing, and picking yourself back up again. The hosts, Lorien and Dehra talk to prominent working women in the film, television, and comic industries about specific moments of failure, and the whirlwind of emotions/stress/anxiety that followed. Dehra breaks down the neuroscience behind those "brain traps" and helps us understand how to move past those feelings and stay in a healthy learning mode when failure strikes!
posted by itesser at 7:10 PM on July 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Fat City, the novel and the movie
posted by JonJacky at 7:12 PM on July 2, 2018

Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath is one of the classic American novels of enduring failure.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 8:16 PM on July 2, 2018

Did you watch Parks & Rec? The Leslie and Ben characters notably fail at things for which they worked hard, and I always appreciated how the failures were not immediately glossed over or forgotten, and were shown to actually take a toll on the characters. In particular, Ben had a teen-years failure he never lived down and had to deal with in aldulthood.
posted by kapers at 8:16 PM on July 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

Red Plenty, the novel by Francis Spufford
posted by JonJacky at 9:16 PM on July 2, 2018

Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch trilogy is, in part, about the aftermath of the protagonist's devastating failure, described in detail in the first book, "Ancillary Justice". The protagonist is changed by the failure, never stops grieving, and continues because she's alive to do so. (In fact I think it's a theme of the series, and perhaps Leckie's books generally, that failures are not redeemed. Characters fail and then keep going, but failures are failures.)

Also Lois McMaster Bujold's novel Paladin of Souls. It's part of a loose series - the first book features failure and perceived failure, but ends on a triumphant note. The second follows a character who failed the great task of the first book. She does reckon with her past and it ends fairly happily. But if she'd succeeded in her first task, there wouldn't have been a book in it.
posted by mersen at 4:56 AM on July 3, 2018

A lot of Stanisław Lem's books do not end in success; I will leave it at that. Some examples: The Investigation, Solaris, His Master's Voice.
posted by dfan at 6:14 AM on July 3, 2018

The late, great short story writer Thom Jones has many stories that deal with this -- any successes his flawed characters find are short-lived, and usually contain the seeds of their inevitable fall from grace -- but they endure, and life goes on. These are dark but often thrilling and funny stories. Try "Mouses" and "My Heroic Mythic Journey", from his collection Sonny Liston Was a Friend of Mine.
posted by Bron at 7:51 AM on July 3, 2018

The Remains of the Day (the novel, at least, haven't seen the movie).
posted by Chrysostom at 12:19 AM on July 4, 2018

« Older Installing SSD to replace boot drive   |   how to take medication when im visiting the usa? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.