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Are there any good books written in second person?


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Showing 1-13 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 13, 2012 9:23:41 AM PDT
A little over a year ago I read Aura by Carlos Fuentes, a Spanish book written in second person and I thought it was phenomenal. It's a horror story and the fact that it is written in second person really changes the feel of the book. It's almost like a current day horror movie that shows the shaky home video camera looking out into the dark bushes at night. You really feel that you are there when the author says, you open the door, it falls shut behind you, you look for a light, you can't find one, you think you hear someone. It made the book more exciting and drew me in. I haven't read any other good literary books in second person and I was wondering if they exist. Does anyone know of any?

Posted on Jul 13, 2012 6:33:17 PM PDT
Elvin Ortiz says:
Lorrie Moore, How to Become a Writer
Although it seems to be a "do it yourself" type of book, it is fictional, or narrated as if it were fictional. This is a short story though.
If you consider 2nd person narrative, which is rare in literature, as being addressed, then Moby Dick ("Call me Ishmael"), Catcher in the Rye, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are stories that initially address the reader. Many first person narratives, however, address the reader without necessarily using the "you." The American slave narratives directly addressed a reading audience ("I want you to know what slavery was like" without necessarily stating so.

I do remember reading war stories from a DC war comics collection where the various writers did a quite effective job in involving the reader into the story and the reader was addressed all the time. These latter stories, however, do not constitute great books.

Posted on Jul 14, 2012 12:59:36 PM PDT
If on a Winter's Night A Traveler by Italo Calvino. Your socks will leave your feet.

Posted on Jul 16, 2012 8:57:04 AM PDT
Fay says:
Perhaps "The Screwtape Letters" by CS Lewis is a 2nd person narrative? Maybe?

Posted on Jul 16, 2012 9:23:16 AM PDT
Probably any epistolarly work could be considered 2nd person. Take a look at Dostoevski's Poor Folk, one of the greatest.

J. C. Frampton

Posted on Jul 16, 2012 11:08:23 AM PDT
Elvin Ortiz says:
Fay, there is no doubt that The Screwtape Letters frequently uses a second person since it is the correspondence between the uncle Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood. I ask, does identifying the second person in narrative, regardless of genre, say something of point of view of the text? In the case of these letters, for example, we see that Screwtape constantly advises his nephew, but when analyzing the content, who is really being addressed?

One of my favorite passages is the one on disappointment. In the second person, he asks his nephew to "Work hard" to disappoint people, and the rest of the passage the letter's author uses third person to refer to the "Enemy" and to talk about disappointment. You may strongly argue that while the author uses the grammatical third person, literary speaking, the text has the effect of a second person, since this text aims at being instructive. Readers detect the author's knowledge behind Screwtape's words. One may say that it is the sheep dressed in wolf's clothing (a switch on the popular idiom) for didactic purposes.

Thus, identifying second person narrative by locating every you in the text may be less important than explaining the epistolary form, and why did the author chose this form as more effective in communicating the intended message.

Posted on Jul 17, 2012 9:18:31 AM PDT
Thanks for the help. If On a Winter's Night a Traveler is more what I'm looking for, I'll definetly check it out. Not so much just epistolary works, self-help books, or books that just address the reader. There are tons of all of those kind of books on the market. What I'm looking for is something where you, the reader, are actually a character. The author takes you through his world. I know it's a really rare form of literature but that's why I thought I'd ask if anyone else had seen it. Thanks for the help.

Posted on Jul 18, 2012 1:07:54 AM PDT
Les Liaisons dangereuses (Dangerous Liasons)? Bram Stoker's Dracula?

Posted on Jul 18, 2012 9:12:05 AM PDT
choose your own adventure novels :p
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choose_Your_Own_Adventure
obviously meant for middle schoolers, so I suggest this with a bit of tongue-in-cheek, but they're still fun books.

Posted on Jul 20, 2012 4:51:04 PM PDT
Frank Mundo says:
Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney. Also Up in the Air by Walter Kirn has some second person.

Posted on Jul 20, 2012 7:44:23 PM PDT
"Bright Lights, Big City"

Posted on Jul 23, 2012 7:40:29 AM PDT
Jay McInerney's "Bright Lights, Big City," is an excellent short novel written entirely in the second person. "It's 6:00 a.m. do you know where you are? You're not the kind of guy to stumble out of a bar at six o'clock in the morning, but there you are, the sun blinding . . ." This is not verbatim, but pretty darn close to the first sentence of the book as I remember it. Read it about twenty years ago, and couldn't put it down until I finished it.

Posted on Jul 23, 2012 9:31:39 AM PDT
KaliHiver says:
"Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas" by Tom Robbins. Perhaps it isn't 'literary' but it's written in 2nd person and is a very enjoyable read.
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Discussion in:  Literary Fiction forum
Participants:  11
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Initial post:  Jul 13, 2012
Latest post:  Jul 23, 2012

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