Friday, August 27, 2010

The Novel and I

The Crystal Cave (The Arthurian Saga, Book 1)I picked up a good half-dozen intriguing-looking historical novels at Target today, opened each one to the first page, closed each one and put it back on the shelf. Why? Because each and every one began with the word “I”.

Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody, Book 1)I’ve always had a “thing” about first person novels. I don’t know why. It goes back to long before I ever dreamed of becoming a writer. Even when young, as soon as I saw the first person “I” on a page, I wanted to put the book down. It’s pretty much a given that “I” is going to appear within the first two to three lines of a first person novel, so it’s not like I was really giving a first person book a fair chance. But the “I” just turned me off like a light switch. Off the top of my head, I can think of two novels/series that are on my “keeper” list that are written in first person: The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart, and the Amelia Peabody series, by Elizabeth Peters. A Vision of Light, by Judith Merkle Riley, is another keeper, but only for the third person scenes with Brother Gregory that are interspersed between the long first person scenes about Margaret. (There may be a few others on my keeper shelf, but those are the only ones that spring immediately to mind.)

A Vision of Light: A Margaret of Ashbury Novel (Margaret of Ashbury Trilogy)So why do I have this “thing”? I don’t know. I’m sure I’m missing out on a lot of splendid books by my prejudice. On the other hand, Target might have sold six books today if they had only been written in third person, instead of first!

How about you? Do you prefer books in first person or third? And why? Or is your answer, like mine, “Just because!”

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