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message 1: by Sally, la reina (last edited Feb 25, 2009 03:46AM) (new)

Sally (mrsnolte) | 17334 comments Mod
Leslie's quest to find good memoirs reminds me of a thread I've been meaning to start for a while and haven't.

Sweeter's mom is a huge reader, like me. She and I bonded early when S & I were first going out over her book club shelves in their basement. She has a collection of just books she's read in book clubs over the years - a neat assortment of about 50 books in this glass-doored cupboard.
However, I'm not so much on the books she has been lending me for about the past year. Not all, some, like Water for Elephants have been marvelous. But often, as in the case of The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint A Novel or Snow Flower and the Secret Fan A Novel I just haven't much dug. And I think I've figured out. I don't really dig books written from the perspective of an adolescent, especially in the first person present tense, looking back retrospectively.

I'd much rather always read something that is written in the third person, like Lady Chatterley. I get so into a book, so lost inside the story already, that when it is written in the 1st I buy it a little less. I'm not really the one seeing or feeling these things, you're telling me a story, author. I don't believe it is really happening to you as you are telling me. I guess I'd rather embroider stories on my own.

Now the second person, like
If On a Winter's Night a Traveler is much preferable to first person, as well.

I'm not doing the clearest job with explaining this, but I was just wondering if any of you have ever noticed this difference?

message 2: by RandomAnthony (last edited Feb 25, 2009 02:08AM) (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments I guess it depends on the book....2nd person would be very hard to pull off, I think, and first person is hard to pull off, too, outside of the memoir (Gilead is an example of a great book in first person). Third person is most comfortable for me.

I'm reminded a bit of tense issues too...like when Stephenson used present tense through Snow Crash...you've got to have talent to pull that off.

message 3: by Matt (new)

Matt | 819 comments To me first person is good if the writer is trying to do something interesting with perspective or unreliable narrator, but overall third person flows better. My only experience with second person that I can remember is "Aura" by Carlos Fuentes. I recall thinking that story was made perfect by this approach, but it was so long ago I don't remember the exact rationale leading up to that judgement.

Very interesting about tense issues also, RA. Past tense seems to be the standard in most literature, but sometimes when I dabble with a piece of writing I find myself switching tenses and then getting into a hellacious editing experience trying to change everything to agree (you always miss a few no matter what). Makes me curious if that is an exclusive problem to amateur writing types or if seasoned writers fight with this as well?

message 4: by Mike (new)

Mike (MJMorgan) | 38 comments First person to me, reaveals much about an ending at times. This is mostly because I read a good deal of Stephen King, and it isn't much fun to read King if you know his hero lives.

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