Thursday, June 02, 2005
Cruddy by Lynda Barry
A great use of first person in a dark, funny, disturbing, violent, strange novel. Too often first person narrators--especially in short fiction but in novels as well--are the default. They sound rather similar and serve no particular advantage as the narrator of the tale. Cruddy, however, is an example of a true character--someone with a unique experience and a unique voice--telling her story. Somebody somewhere (probably Ron Carlson, my personal god) said a first person narrator should be the person least inclined to tell the story. The one person who should never tell the story. I don't think it's a firm rule, but it's one worth considering when making the decision of point of view. I actually tried very hard to write my novel in third person (largely because I thought first person was too trendy) but in the end I was mostly interested in going deeply into the thinking of my narrator who does not show a lot of herself in actions or in speech, but I really really hope to write my second novel (whoa, let's finish that first one before we go there) in the third person. In the end though the material should dictate the choice.