Monday, 4 June 2012

the first person and other stories by Ali Smith

Goodreads link
I love, love, love short stories. I love writing them; I love reading them. Over the years, I've had a few published, although they are probably all long forgotten now :-(

It's not quite so easy to find good collections to read, though. As a result I grab them wherever I can and hope for the best. When I picked up this Ali Smith collection, I hadn't read her novels but I knew her name.

These stories are an experiment in viewpoint - many of them are written in the second person, which is why I picked it for today's recommendation. (If you don't know, I'm highlighting books which have influenced me in some way - these posts are not intended to be book reviews.)

The second person viewpoint interested me because I'd already had my story That Sadie Thing published - a story written partly in second person. It's a viewpoint that challenges the writer - fingers crossed that I got it right, then! As with anything, when done well you hardly notice that the story is being written in an unconventional way; when done badly, it's the only thing you notice!

Have you read Ali Smith's short stories or novels? Have you written a story is second person? Do you enjoy reading stories written in second?




30 comments:

  1. writing short stories is a art...one that I am not very good at!

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    1. In much the same way, I think novel writing is an art - one that I need to work on.

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  2. I've never heard of Ali Smith before! I'll have to check her out! :D

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  3. I used to love reading Choose Your Own Adventure stories when I was a kid. I've never written in the second person though.

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  4. I recently read Chris Bohjalian's novel, THE NIGHT STRANGERS, and one of the POVs is in second person. It threw me at first, but once I got used to it, I enjoyed it - it really set itself off from the other POVs in the story and it made me feel like I was in the character's skin (which is kind of odd because I would think first person POV would do that more/better. Interesting.)

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    1. Exactly - it can be a much more oppressive and intense experience. I'll look out for that book, too - thanks.

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  5. I've never read anything by Ali Smith before, but I do enjoy short stories. I'm not sure I could write one, but would be willing to try. It doesn't matter (usually) to me the POV the story is written in, so long as it's a good story:)

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    1. I think if the POV stands out, then the writing is bad. But the right POV makes a huge difference to your enjoyment and understanding.

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  6. Thank you for another recommendation - always on the look out for good short stories!

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    1. They are hard to track down sometimes, aren't they?

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  7. I'm not a huge fan of the second person... I find it confusing to write and to read! It is hard to do well.

    Allison (Geek Banter)

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    1. I think if it's confusing to read, the writer hasn't done a good job!

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  8. I've never written anything in second person, and I can't remember if I've ever read anything in second person! Oh wait. Those choose-your-own-adventure or choose-your-own-ending type stories ... those are written in second person, aren't they? Hmm... I never really enjoyed those!

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    1. Yes, they were - I had one about ants!

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  9. I'm so happy to find your post today! I've been on the lookout for a good short story collection, and your review couldn't have come at a better time. Thanks!

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  10. Second person is not easy at all. I will definitely give that a look.

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    1. Not easy, but the stories where she's used it work so effortlessly.

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  11. I've tried, but successfully yet. It's a hard thing to make it sound good. But I'd like to try again one day when I feel brave. :)

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    1. For me the story comes first, the POV is second (usually decided by my first sentence). With the right story, it won't feel brave just natural!

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  12. I've never heard of her but I always find 2nd person fascinating. I could never do it myself, but I admire those who can!

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    1. Yes, it is a skill to do it well. It can be a very intense POV to read when done well though.

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  13. I wish my talent lay more in short story writing. I've just spent a month re-writing a novel, and once it's gone through my daughter's critical appraisal, it will need to be done again. 76,000 words. Sigh.

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    1. Lol - yes, sometimes writing a short story can be a welcome change! Good luck with the re-writes.

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  14. I have written in second person - it's not easy and often isn't the best way to tell a story, but it can work well. I've sold just two stories written in second which is about 1% of my publications.

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    1. Where can I read those stories, Patsy? Congratulations.

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  15. I have not heard of Ali Smith. Thanks for introducing her to us. I don't come across many books written in the second person. Very interesting.

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Please comment - I love a good chat!