Thursday, May 11, 2006

may 8: you know who you are

And I read bits of (gasp, fiction!) Lahiri's "Once in a Lifetime" . . . The second person voice IS cool - I love the second person voice of cookbooks, magazines, poetry, other confrontations - and I would read more fiction if it had more second person. What I find so odd about Lahiri, though, is how consistent her third person narration has been. The narrator always sounds the same; about 30 and talking in the past tense, yet unnaturally familiar with the past as if it was an intimate recollection, more a character and less a narrator . . . And everything always seems to be so completely over and done for the narrator, but just barely completely over and done for the character, or maybe the other way round . . . I'm fascinated by how consistent her tone is, but sometimes it drives me nuts. And now she's transposed that consitently there narrator into the eerie eerie second person. I feel like the combination of the two is really nice and creepy, like it makes that control freak of a narrator character that much more present.

6 Comments:

Blogger mzn said...

I like your way of describing her voice in earlier works and how the second-person narration is a bit of jolt in this story. (And this was the first piece of NYer fiction I had read in ages, by the way.) The narrator strikes a confessional tone that seems familiar from episotolary fiction but the ambiguity around its address makes it seem really fresh.

At first I was annoyed that Lahiri's writing has only one subject and was thinking that it's time for her to stop mining her childhood, but by the end I had gotten over that. She writes great stories.

7:47 AM  
Blogger Victorian Spinster said...

oh lord, i just found out about your blog. the new york review of books is even worse (and i still get it)
can you recommend some of lahiri's best fictions?

11:29 PM  
Blogger Wanda Ball said...

Ooh, I'll have to read the story. The issue is in a pile on the radiator in my bathroom. :-)

If you like second-person narrators, you might like Edna O'Brien's A Pagan Place. It's one of my favorite novels.

2:33 PM  
Blogger zp said...

mzn: i WAS an english major once upon a time . . .

victorian spinster: but that seems like a very long time ago, and they didn't teach me anything about contemporary fiction, so i'm no expert. but i liked the namesake.

and i post on the new york review of books occasionally; i like it better because when they spout some totally ideological nonsense, at least they give a short history of how whatever it is they are claiming came to be common knowledge. as an actual book review they are, at least for now, bound to give the names and authors of people who've developed the arguments or whatever . . .

wanda: i wish our bathroom HAD a radiator. it's cold in there.

2:28 PM  
Anonymous lindy said...

My bathroom has no radiator either, and it's disgraceful. It should be a building code item.
How else can you warm your towels? And there is no other reasonably secure place for the books.

BTW, Did you get your Kretschmann host information? It will be mostly lettuce at first.

6:33 PM  
Blogger zp said...

i got my kretschmann info and i'm hungry for salad. i pick up near the colfax school, which works for me. we're not really carfree anymore (sigh) anyway . . .

6:22 PM  

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