So, I've been having a problem with voice lately. (no, not "voices"- I may be going a little crazy with all this summer vacation time on my hands, but I'm not to that point.. yet...) I had to put down the last three books I've attempted to read, even though they were all critically acclaimed, award winners, etc. I usually read non-fiction when I'm working on a novel- but I thought I'd spice it up a bit.
After I set down the third book, deterred and dismayed (I almost never give up on a book), I tried to figure out what was turning me off to all of these, seemingly radically different, stories. Then I figured it out: they were all written in first person point of view.
When I think of first person point of view working well, I think of Catcher in the Rye or The Book Thief. I think of books with main characters that I fell in love with or wanted to die a brutal, agonizing death. Characters that I wanted to be, or have a glass of wine with, or hunt down to the ends of the earth. Characters whose breath I could feel on the edge of my cheek, their imagined presence creating a shadow over my shoulder as I read. Those types of characters. And if a book is written in first person and I'm not desperate to interact with the narrator, then, well... you have a week among books as I have: turning the pages, shaking your head, finding something better to do.
So my question to you, intrepid writers and readers: what are your experiences with first person point of view and narration? What novels written in first person have blown your socks off and made you beg for more? What has worked, what hasn't, and does voice even matter? I'd love to hear your thoughts....
(If my dog Vegas wrote a book with first person narration it would go something along the lines of this: "I... am.... a dog. I am.... confused. I am trying to look... regal? I.... think. Snausages....")