A reader’s perspective on the narration of life.
Awhile back I wrote about discovering audio books, which is still a great joy on long car rides. I’ve even gotten Kim into the idea of spending time in the car listening to books and her lesfic list has grown considerably! It’s been fun exploring different stories and we both definitely have opinions about narrators that we like and do not like. I thought it was interesting though, when recently Kim said she had a hard time with one of the stories we were listening to because it was in first person. It hadn’t even pinged my radar that the narration was different or confusing. But of course it made me think, and yeah inspire me to comment on it here.
So the story we were listening to was The Vampire Next Door by Natalie Vivien and Bridget Essex. I thought it was a great interpretation of our current society and the discrimination that still exists and how people fight change so much- especially when they perceive something as dangerous. I mean until something like Twilight was released, vampires were generally the scary monster. Now they are suddenly lovable beings that can have super hot sex! But what if suddenly they did exist? Which side of the table would you be on? They are scary and should be feared side or the they need to be given a chance first side? It could be said for any unknown- I mean an alien race coming to Earth could instill the same fear. But why I was enjoying The Vampire Next Door so much was because it was narrated in first person.
And why first person? Well try listening to TB Markinson’s The Chosen One. The story is fun, funny, well written, but captures different society extremes intersecting in one huge emotional mess. And because when it is all said and done, it is only our heads and hearts that we can fully understand, why shouldn’t the same thing happen in stories? So when Ainsely makes outrageous assumptions as most of us do, we read along with her thought process, get to experience the emotions attached to her decisions and thoughts, and finally are touched by the outcomes of those decisions. Just as we do in our lives- we can only judge what is going on in our own minds and the only actions we can control are our own. First person was the best way to read this story.
I can actually pick out the first story that I read that was told in first person because it was the first LesFic I ever read- Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown. I actually found LesFic soon after I came out. I was blessed with a wonderful woman in my life who was willing to share her own experiences and help me understand my own. One of the best things she did for me was to tap into my love of reading by handing me a book and telling me to read it. And Rubyfruit Jungle, made such an impression! Would it have been as successful if it had been told in third person or some other narrative style? I somehow don’t think I would have connected so closely with Molly Bolt.
The same way that Far From Xanadu by Julie Ann Peters stuck with me years after I read it. When a story needs to connect to the feelings more than to the action, doesn’t it work better when it is personal? I know there are readers out there who prefer differently but I truly believe the stories that really, truly touch the core of our emotions are told from first person when you live through each moment in that characters head.
Seriously though! I don’t think Georgia Beers Snow Globe would even be the same if it was told in anything BUT first person. Which I’m sure, a talented and experienced writer such as Georgia Beers, would have consciously decided, but as a reader I absolutely loved being in Mackenzie’s head as she realigns her world after being dumped by her fiance days before their wedding. Moving through the ins and outs of not only a break-up but a cancelled wedding, a paid for honeymoon, and all the self doubt of being single again are connected so well with Mackenzie’s narration.
Of course with most all the first person narrations I’ve read, I was able to foresee an outcome that I would want and I came to different conclusions than the narrator creating a whole different path than one I may have traveled and that can be a challenge at times. Those moments when you want to reach into the pages of the story and smack the character on the back of the head and point out the obvious that they are missing. I actually love when an author can bring on that reaction from me!!
So what do all you LesFic readers think? First person narration or no first person? Which do you prefer? Do you have a favorite first person narrated story? How about the story that, in your opinion, touched the emotions the best? How was it narrated? I’m looking forward to adding to my wish list!