Monday, February 04, 2013

Reader's Diary #945- Ukamaka Olisakwe: Running

If you've been following my blog for a while, you know I have a thing for 2nd person perspective stories. Because they're so rare, however, it always has to become such a thing when I find one. I reviewed a short story last week. Did I tell you it was told in the third person? No, of course not. It's the default, the norm, followed closely by the first person, which often also goes without mentioning in many reviews. What is it that seems so off putting about 2nd person? I know it's not for everyone, but I think if enough authors wrote in this way, it wouldn't seem so jarring and unusual when you come upon such a story.

But for now, it still jumps out, even for enthusiasts like me. I find myself rereading paragraphs, "translating" 2nd person pronouns into the 3rd, to see if it still works, to see if 2nd person was necessary, something I've never done in reverse. And usually, as with Ukamaka Olisakwe's "Running," I'm convinced that yes, 2nd person was the right choice.

"Running" is about you, as a young girl, suffering physical and emotional abuse from your mother. Eventually you find solace in singing, but the need for your mother's praise, any kind words really, occupies almost all of your thoughts.

The 2nd person perspective makes you empathetic towards that longing all the more. With the conclusion at the end, there is the sense that the outcome had been a daydream, a fantasy, almost a plan versus a memory. Once again, the 2nd perspective compliments this angle as well.

Great story.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below. Also, if you are a writer and have written a short story in the 2nd person perspective, I'm looking to put together an anthology of such stories. Send your contributions my way!)

1 comment:

Ali said...

I like 2nd person, when it's done well. Sometimes it sounds contrived to me, though.

I haven't done a Short Story Monday in ages! Today I read some Edgar Allen Poe.