Wednesday, April 6, 2011

First person narrative

I'm partial to first person narratives. Often, it's what attracts me to a novel.

There's an irresistible drawing in by a first person voice, a feeling you are being confided in, as if the narrator is somehow telling you the truth. And I know all the arguments against first person narratives, too narrow a perspective/point of view, and reduction in tension because the narrator has lived to tell the tale. And I have loads of third person narratives I really love.

Yet, first person narratives remain my top choice.

A few favourites:

The madcap tellings of scatalogical Ariel Manto in Scarlett Thomas' 'The end of Mr Y'

The cool, sensitive voice of Hans van der Brook in post 9/11 New York in Joseph O'Neill's 'Netherland'

The mysterious stranger in a Lahore cafe in Mohsin Hamid's 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist'

The detached Eva detailing every mother's worst nightmare in Lionel Shriver's 'We need to talk about Kevin'

The contemplative yet gripping voice of Michael in Bernard Schlink's 'The Reader'

The unreliable, sinister narration of Michael Rogers in Agatha Christie's 'Endless Night'

The smitten (with Holly Golightly) unnamed narrator in Truman Capote's 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'

The sensible, self-possessed voice of Jane ('Reader, I married him') in Charlotte Bronte's 'Jane Eyre'

Have you any preference on narrative or any particular first person favourites?


Angela said...

Just like you, I'm a big first person fan.

Brianna said...

My novel is first person point of view
Some other novels in 1st person I enjoy are
The Last Day the Dogbushes Bloomed by Lee Smith
Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons

Karen Walker said...

I do love first person narrative, but then, I wrote a memoir. I think "Catcher in the Rye" is my favorite first person novel.

Mari G said...

Angela, nice to meet you. Good to hear you are a fan too!

Brianna, will check out those titles. My novel progress is first person narrative too.

Karen, I can't believe I actually left out Holden Caulfield, he should have in been in my list too!

Sherri Lackey said...

I like first person narrative only if it is done well. I've read a few books where it just gets tedious after a while. I love the first person narrative in Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. His writing in that novel just blows my mind!

Unknown said...

I write first person, but don't know that you'd be interested in that fact that I write historical fiction in the voice of a ten-year-old boy or girl :0)

Bluestocking Mum said...

I've spent so much change writing and re-writing my novel - switching between 1st and 3rd person. I've now ended up doing a mixed narrative, writing alternate chapters!


Shannon Lawrence said...

This is interesting, as it's something I've been looking at. It seems almost as if first person has gained steam in the last few years, or maybe it's just because my reading tastes changed. I only like first person if it is really well done. Otherwise, I can get a bit tired of it.

Good luck with the A to Z Challenge!