Question: First-Person Narrative

Of late, I find it hard to get into first-person narratives. I used to enjoy such narratives but now I can hardly bear to read a few paragraphs of the book with such a p-o-v before giving it up. Has it ever happened to you?

15 thoughts on “Question: First-Person Narrative

  1. I understand your point, Neeru. I will say they grow tiresome after a while, although there are some series written that way that I enjoy. If I may be honest, I can handle first person narratives much more than I can stories written in the present tense. Apologies – I know that’s not the point of your question. But I must admit, present-tense narratives are enough to make me stop reading, usually.

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    1. I just can’t understand it, Margot. I used to enjoy such narratives. Guess it is the predominance of it in contemporary fiction where every narrator seems to be unreliable one that has put me off. Present tense is a major turn-off too though I have read a few.

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  2. First-person narrative has always been one of my favorite styles of point of view. There was a time when I would not try a new mystery if it was not in first-person, but that was decades ago. I still enjoy them, though. I like that the reader only gets the information that the narrator has. Of course, it helps to like the character that is narrating but that is not always necessary.

    Of the books I read this month, all of them were crime fiction and half of them (4 out of 8) were told in first-person narrative. They were all older fiction, published between 1942 and 1987. And I enjoyed all of those.

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    1. Some of my favourite books are first-person narratives, Tracy: Great Gatsby, Great Expectations, I used to like it more than third-person narrative. This dislike of it is very recent. Just can’t understand it. Perhaps as I wrote to Margot it is the over-use and actually killing of the unreliable narrator trope that has put me off.

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      1. I don’t read a lot of newer books but even so, I am very tired of the overuse of the unreliable narrator. That is only interesting when it is unusual or unexpected, not when it happens all the time.

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  3. It all depends on who the first-person narrator is. I love John Mortimer’s Horace Rumpole mysteries. Rumpole is droll and witty and–like Columbo–always underestimated. But I have stopped reading other first-person novels because I didn’t like the character. I cannot read second-person narratives. They just grate on me!

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    1. You make a very good point, George, about liking or disliking the narrator. In the beginning of the year I read a real good first-person narrative: I Am Thinking Of Ending Things but now just can’t seem too. Hopefully this phase will be over soon. I don’t think I have ever read a second-person narrative. Any examples?

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    1. It wasn’t a problem earlier, Steve. I used to love it. Present tense is a big No-No for me too though I have slogged through books. Contemporary authors seem to love it.

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  4. Here’s a list of novels told in the second person:
    ‘Spill Simmer Falter Wither’ by Sara Baume. …
    ‘The Sound of My Voice’ by Ron Butlin. …
    ‘Apple Tree Yard’ by Louise Doughty. …
    ‘Montpelier Parade’ by Karl Geary. …
    ‘The Book of Rapture’ by Nikki Gemmell. …
    ‘Bright Lights, Big City’ by Jay McInerney. …
    ‘You’ by Nuala Ní Chonchúir
    And here’s the link that will tell you more about them: https://readingmattersblog.com/2019/08/24/8-great-novels-written-in-the-second-person/

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  5. It depends on the story style for me. If we learn the story at the same time as the narrator, then usually I’m OK with it, but I hate when a first-person narrator hides things from the reader to build suspense. Like Margot, it’s present tense that annoys me more, and first person present tense is my idea of literary hell… 😉

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