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Certainly an author may choose to tell a story via first person in any manner of his or her choice, but that choice should at least make a case for itself in the execution. Eder, it seems, believes the novelist at hand didn’t even make a choice as evidenced by the execution alone, and therefore quite succinctly defines the two extremes in which a choice probably should be made: the deliberately and almost celebrated “window” of ‘Moby Dick’ or ‘Housekeeping’ or even (if unintentional) Raymond Chandler novels, and the more personality-heavy likes of ‘Huck Finn’, where the voice itself feels as influenced as influential to the story. And, of course, first-person POV can fall between either of these extremes, such as the not-quite-objective likes of ‘The End of the Affair’ or, perhaps more appropriately, the borderline self-referential ‘Illegal Spy Novel’. However one has it, though, it had probably better land somewhere in between, and if it doesn’t, then the story might as well be called pointlessly, uncomfortably-close third person. Admittedly Eder quite pompously claims there are only two possibilities for first person narration, but those two possibilities are, in practice, prudent parameters.

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About

  • Daniel Green is a literary critic and sometime fiction writer. His reviews, critical essays, and fiction have appeared in a variety of publications, both online and in print. He has a Ph.D focusing on postwar American fiction and an M.A. in creative writing.