Thursday, October 30, 2008

spotting the wonder

I realized this morning as I tried to pry The Wonder Spot from my hands that the reason I like Melissa Bank's writing so much is that she's so remarkably good at a first person narrative. In general, I get irritated by novels in first person, which I began to think was just a preference, but then when I read good first person, I realize that I don't have issues with the style, I take issue with folks who just don't know what it should be.

Not to take horrible steps backward, but if you look at Twilight, nothing about it needed a first person narrative. And it reminds me of something I said when I was in a writing class in college, a lot of writers use first person because they don't have the energy to separate themselves from the story. I should also note that I was about two steps away from becoming a huge Edith Wharton fan (I still am, but I'm no longer a new fan, I'm a seasoned and respectable fan). There are also a couple of other things I've noticed about the first person narrative: diehard fans of that particular voice tend to be younger (or maybe I was just younger when I liked it a lot, but I do think it tends to draw you into the experience more when you're younger) and many writers of first person stories tend to not describe as much.

This isn't to say that there aren't awesome first person authors, because there are; it's just that sometimes people forget the skill required to pull it off. And I was about to go into my arguments on the chick lit sub-genre, but it's getting me a bit riled up, which leads me to the slippery slope towards yelling about Switzerland in 1971 (when women finally got the vote in that backwards nation). But I will say that if Candace Bushnell exemplifies modern chick lit, Melissa Bank deserves better that to be grouped there. Bank is such a plainly honest writer and so separate from the consumerism that seems to typify the new chick lit, that she should be exempt from genre definitions. And now I need to know when her next book comes out.

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