Saturday, September 13, 2014

You Are Stopped at a Railroad Crossing . . .


You're stopped there and you're thinking about the blog post you want to do on using second person point of view in a piece of fiction.  Second person -- you rather than I or he/she -- is only rarely used in fiction.

Cookbooks do it all the time -- Now you mince the garlic -- as do self help books -- You concentrate on the candle flame, seeking to clear your mind of all cluttering thoughts. 

It makes perfect sense in these cases -- but in a novel? You wonder why would someone do that.

One of your students is writing a novel in which some of the chapters are in the second person. The others in the class are struggling with it but you find it oddly compelling and so you do some research on the use of the second person point of view in fiction. 

You find mention of Bright Lights, Big City -- Jay McInerney's very successful novel depicting wild youth in the midst of cocaine culture -- using the second person point of view, You remember reading this and remember the feeling of being hurtled along on a very wild ride indeed. 

Then you pick up a copy of The Best American Short Stories of 2013 and read a story (originally published in The New Yorker) by Pulitzer Prize winner and best seller Junot Diaz. The story, "Miss Lora,," is written in the second person point of view.  And it's fun to read. You think that it seems to put you, the reader, right into the head of Yunior, the main character.


Then you read an interview with Junot Diaz in which he says he uses the second person to create some distance -- to "challenge the reader and to signal the writerliness of the book." 

And so you say, Okay, whatever. But you've learned something to share with your class next Wednesday. And you appear to have written a blog post too.
  

6 comments:

Ms. A said...

YOU did a very good job with second person and with the photo, as always!

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

Such fun, you've shared great experiential photos as well as that second personal viewpoint.

dannie said...

I did some reading about second person to because I really haven't been exposed to it.Talk about stepping outside of the box! Very creative and challenging.

Aileen Miles said...

You can write a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book in the second person too.

Darla said...

Fascinating meld of images and thoughts you have here…

I rarely think about second-person POV but clearly it has a few benefits … if done well. And perhaps that's the key? Maybe it's trickier to write that way?

Jim Egerton said...

Does' t it put you square in the middle of the story? YOU are caught Staring in the roll.