Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘point of view’

Shop Talk |

I, He… We?

We writers gravitate towards a few particular points of view: we love the first person singular, the ultra-personal “I”; we adore the third-person limited and its inside-outside-blurring stance; we even use the omniscient and look down on our characters as if we were gods.  Now and then, we’ll try the second person to switch it up—we’ve all read Lorrie Moore’s Self-Help and thought about it, haven’t we? But what about the first person plural?  Why haven’t we, as writers, embraced this viewpoint and its potential?  A few of us—Jeffrey Eugenides, Steven Millhauser—have tackled it, but most of us just shrug […]


Reviews |

Arcadia, by Lauren Groff

Lauren Groff’s second novel, Arcadia, gorgeously renders a commune’s rise, fall, and life-long resonance for the people who grew up within it. Unfolding as a series of snapshots, the book’s events span the birth of this late-1960s utopia and its central character, Bit Stone, to his middle age in a bleak—and imminent—dystopic future.


Reviews |

A Meaning for Wife, by Mark Yakich

“There are people who talk about themselves in the first person, people who talk about themselves in the third person, and people who don’t talk about themselves at all,” says a character in A Meaning for Wife. Yet poet Mark Yakich’s debut novel is narrated–quite successfully–in the controversial second-person.


Reviews |

[Reviewlet] The Buddha in the Attic, by Julie Otsuka

A finalist for the National Book Award, Julie Otsuka’s innovative novel The Buddha in the Attic pushes the bounds of narrative form with a collective narrator and a resistance to fixed fates. By inviting the reader to consider what could have happened, instead of what did, Otsuka makes her complicit in the fate of the story’s mail-order-brides.


Reviews |

Agaat, by Marlene van Niekerk, trans. Michiel Heyns

Preeta Samarasan finds South African novelist Marlene van Niekerk’s Agaat to be transformative. The story of an Afrikaner woman and the black servant who has worked for her for most of both their lives, Agaat examines relationships of race and power between the two women by employing a stunning combination of structural intricacy, stylistic range, and daring allegory.


Interviews |

A Little Distance to See Clearly: An Interview with Deanna Fei

Reading Deanna Fei’s debut novel, A Thread of Sky, rescued Kate Levin from a giant post-MFA funk. In this conversation with Levin, Fei discusses the role cultural identity plays in a writer’s persona and work, the value of unknowability, the secret to writing great sex scenes, the reason she watches Jersey Shore—and more.


Reviews |

Bound, by Antonya Nelson

In this review of Antonya Nelson’s fourth novel, Bound, Jackie Retizes examines the role of serial killers as literary signifiers, how Nelson navigates multiple points of view, and why the author succeeds (when many less expert writers don’t) in favoring ambiguity over conclusions, “offering delicate moments of attachment in a book that is less about permanence than it is about restoration.”