The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

23 September 2007

So you see a chance, and you post

Over at Romancing the Blog there's a thread on whether an adventure (which a romance certainly is) works better in first person or in third, and there's no overwhelming consensus either way, though most participants seem to have a distinct preference.

Among the comments:

Trisha:  What I like about first person is that it seems to allow for more flawed characters. Because youíre in the narratorís head, you can get more insight into their actions, so what may seem TSTL* or just annoying in a third person narrative becomes more understandable.

Chessie:  Really good third person has a depth to the POV where there is very little difference between first and third. Limited third also has their intimate thoughts, their intimate observations, and should reflect their voice as a character. And when the character is off on their assumptions about another character, you know it.

Gabriele:  I only notice POV when itís done badly. If done well, I can immerse myself in the world of a book no matter whether itís told in first, third, alternating, multiple, or omniscient POV, and present or past tense. You could make me read a book in second person future if youíd manage to rip it off.

I've read one book in second person present, Jay McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City, which opens this way:

You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning. But here you are, and you cannot say that the terrain is entirely unfamiliar, although the details are fuzzy. You are at a nightclub talking to a girl with a shaved head. The club is either Heartbreak or the Lizard lounge. All might come clear if you could just slip into the bathroom and do a little more Bolivian Marching Powder.

I always thought the finest Marching Powder was Peruvian, but McInerney wasn't talking about me. I found this device off-putting for a couple of pages, but eventually I picked up the groove. Which tells me that I don't really have a preference for any particular POV, as long as it's done with finesse.

* "TSTL" = "Too Stupid to Live," which describes entirely too many characters, and not just fictional ones.

Posted at 7:01 PM to Almost Yogurt


How long have you been waiting to slip in a BLBC reference? I admire you even more now.

I'm actually glad the movie version of the book fizzled so miserably, despite actually being very faithful to the original (the only glaring diversion I recall was when the protagonist's brother didn't accept the offer of coke). Miserably miscast throughout.

Posted by: CT at 8:59 AM on 24 September 2007

Because the Bolivian naturally tended to be somewhat less pure, the elite would wash and recrystallize it. The resultant flake (recently known as fishscale) is not typically consumed in public restrooms.

Posted by: triticale at 3:41 PM on 24 September 2007