Lying Eyes

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"But sometimes first-person speakers are unreliable because they may have interests or limitations that lead them to mislead, distort, or even lie" (Roberts 81).

Everyone has a favorite point of view to read or write in.  Many people like first person, because it seems to pull the reader in, make her feel like she's the one in the story.  Some people like third person because of the extra information they receive, the observations that wouldn't be privy to a narrator trapped in one mind.  (Yeah, I'm purposely skipping the second person explanation, because it's so rare, but if anyone enjoys that the most, feel free to let us know why)

Very few people will put conditions on their pet point of view, but I do.  While I enjoy first person, I also love an unreliable narrator.  I think this makes the speaker more human, easier to relate to.  It's just like when you're listening to someone tell a story; depending on the role he/she played in their tale, the facts need to be filtered through our own experiences and common sense.  Too often we let our thoughts run free, undiluted by logic.  Having an unreliable narrator keeps you guessing, even when you think you've got all the facts, you're often wrong.

I read a book about two years ago by James Patterson called Beach Road.  This is a great example of an unreliable narrator.  SPOILER ALERT!!  The whole way through, the narrator is trying to solve a murder.  By the end of the book, you think he has it, you're all happy, because you kind of guessed who it was at the end, too.  The guy gets the girl, the murderer gets justice, and the reader gets to feel intelligent.  However, if one were to continue reading (and I'd suggest it, since at that point there are only about five pages left), she'd find out that the narrator did it.  And suddenly you have to reread the book, to find out when exactly you were outright lied to.  Now, I am by no means the Sherlock Holmes of literature, but I usually can tell when something's going on.  I absolutely loved that this book threw me so far off my game.  Sometimes reading is really just about having fun (and a collective gasp sounds from English majors everywhere, along with a dull thud as millions fall out of their chairs).  An unreliable narrator is a great way to go into that battle of wits, to never quite be comfortable with what you're hearing, and to spur yourself on to closer reading.


Jessica Orlowski said:

I love to be surprised when I'm reading. Patterson is a great writer, and even though I couldn't help but read your spoiler alert, I still want to read the book so that I can play detective, too.

Melissa Schwenk said:

So I'm half tempted to tell you my favorite point of view is second person, but that would be a lie, unfortunately. I liked your connection though. It definitely made me want to read that book even after knowing the ending, like Jess sad above.

Cody Naylor said:

I agree with you and Jess, Josie. I really enjoy the first-person, limited point of view. It usually ends up leading to a surprise plot twist that both the narrator and I do not expect and you are right, it really does help me relate to the characters better. I do have to say that I enjoy the second-person point of view too, though. I sometimes like to feel like I am being told a story... even though I have to read it myself... I LOVE the title of this entry by the way!

Josie Rush said:

Jess, I definitely agree--James Patterson is great, and even though his work is by no means simple, he somehow always makes for an easy, quick read.
Melissa, heh, I wish you could've told me all about the joys of second-person, and then pointed me in the direction of some second-person stories. I couldn't think of one when I was writing this blog...Fail.
Cody, glad you enjoyed the blog title. lol. Your comment made me realize that it's really hard to choose a favorite pov. You kept selling me on all of them. I'm gonna have to rethink my opening line, "Everyone has a favorite point of view." It seems I am wrong, because I don't even know what mine is now. heh.

Second person point of view is my favorite. I love how it confuses me and frustrates me since it's completely not true that I'm "sitting in the castle tower, overlooking the drawbridge." Author, I'm in my room reading your book.

Just kidding. Sometimes I do like second person, but only for something like a flashback scene, one in which the character is trying to recount a past event in an objective way. They do that on TV, anyways.

Jessica Orlowski said:

I do love a good second-person point of view now and again... Have you ever done that game in which you have the person close his or her eyes (am I speaking in second person now??! lol) and tell them "You're walking along a street. What do you see?" I love that game. I never realized how much second person point of view infiltrates our lives.

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Jessica Orlowski on Lying Eyes: I do love a good second-person
Karyssa Blair on Lying Eyes: Second person point of view is
Josie Rush on Lying Eyes: Jess, I definitely agree--Jame
Cody Naylor on Lying Eyes: I agree with you and Jess, Jos
Melissa Schwenk on Lying Eyes: So I'm half tempted to tell yo
Jessica Orlowski on Lying Eyes: I love to be surprised when I'