In the course of the discussion last Wednesday about choosing your novel’s perspective, there were a few comments that completely blew my mind, in the sense of the Death Star exploding into a million pieces. Here they are (emphasis mine):
Lane Diamond: I started out my first book as a third-person tight POV (protagonist), because so many literary agents indicated they profoundly disliked first-person narratives (no doubt because they tend to devolved into a narcissistic string of I, I, I, I, I, I, I).
Shawn: My first agent told me that First Person was the mark of an immature writer. She said that in this era, it has no place outside MG and some YA. She said it was solipsistic, in only the way a kid could be solipsistic.
cinthiaritchie.com: Oh, man, in graduate school they pounded it into our heads that third person was “the” way to go, that first-person was a weaker perspective, that it wasn’t respected–that no one would take a first-person narrator seriously. Well! Excuse me, stuffy professors, but I feel that you were quite wrong.
Deep breaths. Deep breaths.
Apparently there are literary agents and professors and all kinds of ostensibly rational people out there who think first person narratives are somehow unserious.
Yes, the perspective employed by F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby, by Herman Melville in Moby-Dick, by Vladimir Nabakov in Lolita by Philip Roth in Portnoy’s Complaint (I COULD GO ON)… This perspective is unserious?
Oh, but those are older examples you say. Well, what about Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, Nowhere Man by Aleksandar Hemon, The Secret History by Donna Tartt I COULD GO ON.
I’m sure there are some people out there who don’t like first person. Fine! Don’t read first person books. But to call it unserious is completely crazy.