1. ithestargazer
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    ithestargazer Active Member

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    Best Books in First Person

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by ithestargazer, May 4, 2010.

    Just curious about perspective. I've been writing in 1st person but most of my favourite books are 3rd person, so that's what I'm used to.

    Just wondering if anyone has some reading suggestions (any genre) for well written 1st person narratives?


    Cheers :)
     
  2. Humour Whiffet
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    Humour Whiffet Banned

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    Try Black Dogs by Ian McEwan

    I also love Nausea by Jean Paul Sartre.

    But if you want a free solution, just read the short fiction in The New Yorker. The magazine has lots of first-person narratives, and, as a bonus, you’ll expose yourself to a wide range of authors. (You can read the fiction on the ny's website.)

    Also, note the warnings on other threads about new writers using first-person narratives.
     
  3. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov, American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. Those two alone should teach you everything you need to know about using the first person well. If you need more, the majority of Booker Prize winners for the past decade or two are first person novels. Pulitzer Prize winners are generally not (although I think The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is first person, and quite original).
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sue Grafton's alphabet mysteries (A is for Alibi, etc) are an excellent study in first person writing, and very enjoyable as well if you are at all interested in the mystery genre.
     
  5. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man is an epic first person narrative. I don't think the narrator is ever named. You are taken along his journey as he struggles with his identity and racism.

    It's second to none. I doubt I will ever read anything quite as remarkable.

    I read American Psycho recently and it was terrific. I wasn't expecting the black humour which was a nice surprise and tied in well with Bateman's sociopathic view on the world.
     
  6. jacklondonsghost
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    jacklondonsghost Contributing Member

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    The young adult genre has a lot of classic examples of 1st person narrative. Try The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.
     
  7. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    All the King's Men is the one that comes to mind right away. Fantastic book.
     
  8. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Another good one is The Stranger by Albert Camus. Also, the Sherlock Holmes stories are all in first person.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Keep in mind, if you are reading to learn techniques for first person writing, you should give preference to contemporary morks. Writing standards do change, so if you emulate the writing styles of classic novels, you may find your writing won't meet publisher's expectations.

    This does not mean you should bypass the classics, just that you should keep in mind that the styles and techiques have fallen out of fashion.
     
  10. Clyde J.
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    Clyde J. New Member

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    I would highly recommend Denis Giardina's Storming Heaven. It follows multiple characters from their point of view and it is an all around great book!
     
  11. Evil Flamingo
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    Evil Flamingo Contributing Member Contributor

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    I just started reading Invisible Man. Striking straight off from the intro, which is basically like a chapter in itself. Wonderful novel so far.
     
  12. ithestargazer
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    ithestargazer Active Member

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    Thanks everyone, you've been a great help. It's good to have such a wide variety of books suggested

    cheers :)
     
  13. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    Fantastic. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
     
  14. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Catcher in the Rye - very good book.
     
  15. Sabreur
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    Sabreur Contributing Member Contributor

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    I HATED Invisible Man. Absolutely hated it. Catcher in the Rye is superb however.
     
  16. Lavarian
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    Lavarian Contributing Member Contributor

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    Harlan Coben is pretty decent if you like Thriller/Mystery novels.
     
  17. boesjwoelie
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    I think I've only ever read one first person novel, but it gave me a crystal clear image of what WW1 must have been like... I'm talking of course about All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque :)
    If you are looking for a feelgood book, this would not be the one you need... but I thought it was terrific :D
     
  18. Jobeykobra
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    Jobeykobra Member

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    All I read is first person for the most part. Anything by Bret Easton Ellis, Chuck Palahniuk, Hunter S. Thompson, William S. Burroughs and Charles Bukowski are also pretty good uses of first person. While Bret and Chuck do present tense for the most part, Bukowski and the others tend to use past tense.
     
  19. Coda
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    Coda New Member

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    Erm

    So are the majority of books done in 3rd peron? Ive been marinating on this for ages. What's prefered?

    :confused:
     
  20. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Third is more flexible, and more natural for storytelling. It should be your default choice unless you have a compelling reason to the contrary.

    First is a more limiting, and therefore more challenging perspective. It's therefore less widely used. Those who prefer it appreciate that the reader remains rooted in a single character throughout the story. There is also a feeling that first person is more intimate, but I don't agree. You can stick very close indeed to a character with third person limited.
     
  21. Lavarian
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    Lavarian Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with you. Actually, in my opinion, I think third person limited is more intimate. To me, first person feels like someone is telling me a story after the fact and third person feels like I'm experiencing the story with the character.
     
  22. Fedora
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    Fedora Active Member

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    If you want a good example of discreet first person writing, try The Razor's Edge by Somerset Maugham. Aside from The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird, as previously mentioned, it's the one book where I found first person tolerable.

    EDIT: The Great Gatsby does this well also.
     

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