More text

Nothing says "I Love You, Dear" like screaming lower back pain!

Sometimes Wrong but rarely in doubt!

25 May 2011

Complaints about First Person Voice

I've been asked a few times by different people why I dislike first person narrative and then hypocritically recommend several novels written in the first person.  There are a few reasons and I'll list them.
  • Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun Series - Read it. Although it is touted as being great I've never managed to get through the whole thing.  I seem to miss the greatness of the work YMMV.
  • One inate flaw in First person narrative is that authors can easily fall into navel gazing to a truly amazing degree because everything in the book has be expressed by the one person.  I'm a pretty introverted person and I've read a few novels and had the thought that someone that introverted would never leave the house never mind have the adventure outlined (usually briefly between bouts of intense introversion) in the novel.
  • My dad is fond of the aphorism "There are three sides to every story, mine yours and the truth".  So at best in a first person narrative you're only getting one side of a story and it's potentially biased.  Good examples of this are Ringo's "Last Centurion" and Wolfe's Book of the New Sun Series.  In first case the bias is overt and obvious  [(the book is more or less a polemic) I still enjoyed the book though].  In the second case the narrator isn't entirely honest.  
  • People are lousy narrators.  My internal monolog doesn't tend to describe what I'm seeing, or feeling, or smelling or touching or hearing.  Yet when I read a book I expect a little bit of info to set the scene which seems a bit artificial for a a first person narrative to me.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Polite and erudite comments by