17 March 2011


Lately, something has been bugging me. I’m not sure why this trend has become popular. But whatever the case may be, this trend needs to stop. Maybe I need to find new things to read, or new sources of reading material (aka stuff that isn’t pretentious).

I’m talking about you.

No, not you specifically. I’m talking about the use of “you,” the second person subject, as the point of view in fiction. I indulge in literary blogs, and more often than not, the entries are written in second person. I’m not saying this style of writing is stupid, per se. I understand its appeal. By having “you” as the subject of a story, the reader is inextricably tied to the author. The reader experiences the action of the plot with an intensity that is hard to achieve otherwise. The reader is literally in the story.

True to form, I can’t stand it. I can appreciate the narrative structure from an academic standpoint. It’s cool. It binds the reader to Sartre’s notion that the writer and reader are part of an unspeakable pact in which both parties must be active participants. But as a reader, I don’t like to be told what to do in such an explicit way. I like to observe, either from the narrator’s perspective or as a completely external entity. I’m okay with being led around. I will actively follow the plot with an open mind and curious temperament. But once an author tells me that I walk through a door with a beer in hand at some party, I resist. I don’t even drink beer. And why would I attend a party that seems to be filled with hipsters? Not interested. I’m leaving. I don’t like being told how to think and act. Instead of being engrossed in the story, I feel even more alienated.

These stories tend to be really unique. The experiences are obviously taken from a specific point of view, often with a very distinctive voice. Why wouldn’t the writer take ownership of the story and place his or her self, or even a character of his or her own creation, into it? The story would be so much more effective if told with conviction, rather than having the story unfold as the reader is trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Why would a writer place so much responsibility on a reader? How would the writer know that the reader would uphold his or her part of the pact?

Maybe I’m just reading way too deep into this whole “you” thing. But I am taking responsibility for my opinions. I am active. And I know that I overanalyze things about which most people wouldn’t give a second thought.

You sit at your computer, shaking your head while thinking, “Man, this girl is crazy. No wonder she’s writing, alone, in the middle of the night. She should find a hobby. Or a boyfriend.”


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