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9780394726410So you decide pick a book or two off a must-read list of 25, and one of them is Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney and you open it up to find that it’s a first person narrator writing in the second person. You’ve heard of this phenomenon, but never encountered it and are fascinated with how it goes. For a while. Then, more and more, you feel like the narrator is calling “you” “you” and you object that you aren’t in this night club at all but reading about someone who’s in this night club and calling himself “you” when he really means “I.” The more this goes on, the more annoyed you become.

You also become annoyed at the constant clubbing and coke-sniffing as well as at the strained trying-too-hard-for-laffs prose:

The layout suggests a condo for high-rise gophers. . . If Chess teams had locker rooms they might look like this.


And so on. So, after about fifty pages, despite the ecstatic cover blurbs by the likes of Tobias Wolfe and George Plimpton, you decide you might as well move on to a place where the writer knows the difference between his character and the reader reading about his character and you bid you good-bye.

Empty Chair


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