You're going to be looking for stories written in the 2nd person
May 7, 2004 3:46 AM   Subscribe

The 2nd Man. Can anyone think of any examples of literature which is written in the second person? We've had a think in this office and can't think of any 2nd person stuff that is pornographic. Surely there must be something?
posted by twine42 to Writing & Language (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
The Bride Stripped Bare (title taken from the Duchamp piece The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors) is written in the second person, and it's pretty sexy. It's written by everyone's favorite author, Anonymous.
posted by iconomy at 3:59 AM on May 7, 2004


Oopsie...

"can't think of any 2nd person stuff that isn't pornographic"
posted by twine42 at 4:01 AM on May 7, 2004


A lot of EC Comics from the 1950s are in the second person:

You're driving up a dark road, with your father, who's gone insane since the murder of your mother...

...things like that. They're comics, though, so I don't know if that's what you're looking for.
posted by interrobang at 4:05 AM on May 7, 2004


A Song of Stone by Iain Banks.
As usual, the second person narration makes for some near unreadable prose. Personally I find that it tends to come over like a particularly pedantic dungeon master in an uninterseting dungeons and dragons game.
I think there are good reasons for not using second person narration.
Here's a list of some other fiction that uses it.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 4:34 AM on May 7, 2004


Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney is written like that.

An enjoying, if short, read.
posted by sebas at 4:36 AM on May 7, 2004


"can't think of any 2nd person stuff that isn't pornographic"

I figured that was a typo ;) The Bride Stripped Bare isn't porn. It's got its risque moments, though. Does Amazon sell porn?
posted by iconomy at 4:37 AM on May 7, 2004


Choose your own adventure!
posted by creeky at 4:54 AM on May 7, 2004


Life's Lottery and Freewill come to mind.
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:18 AM on May 7, 2004


Suddenly remembering the word "pornographic", visions of USENET and Nerve begin to flicker
in your head. And that Anonymous person... did s/he really write all those stories in the first and third? You pause for a moment to reflect on this.

posted by Smart Dalek at 5:22 AM on May 7, 2004


Suddenly remembering the word "pornographic", visions of USENET and Nerve begin to flicker
in your head. And that Anonymous person... did s/he really write all those stories in the first and third? You pause for a moment to reflect on this...


Sounds a bit like that Douglas Adams "Hitchhiker" text game that was on MeFi a while ago.

"...and suddenly you realise that the yellow bulldozer outside the window is about to demolish your house! What do you do?"
- "Panic!"
- "Don't panic".

posted by NekulturnY at 5:31 AM on May 7, 2004


This lady did a giant bibliographty of second-person narrative books. Many of these just use second-person for part of the text, not as a whole. Selected ones that people might have heard of:

Vox, by Nicholson Baker [in parts]
Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes
If On a Winter's Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino
Running Dog by Don Delillo [opening part]

Some of Gravity's Rainbow was written like this. The McInerny book is the one I think of when I think of second-person narrative structures in books that actually worked and did not seem gimicky.
posted by jessamyn at 8:38 AM on May 7, 2004


How could you ignore those pillars of the literary canon, the Choose Your Own Adventure series?

If you want to enter Smelly Pete's tent to look at the evidence, go to page 256.

If you want to go to Jagged Breakneck Cliff with Suzy instead, go to page 45.
posted by Capn at 8:48 AM on May 7, 2004


Molly Zero, by Keith Roberts. I liked it so much, I took the name as a pseudonym. Bonus: it's a dystopian novel.
posted by acridrabbit at 8:54 AM on May 7, 2004


Ron Butlin's The Sound Of My Voice is a masterpiece of 2nd person, truly. And the voice provides a beautiful twist at the end. Really, superbly done look at alcoholism.
posted by bonaldi at 8:59 AM on May 7, 2004


Tom Robbins' Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas is in second-person, present tense. It shouldn't work, but it does. If you like Robbins, anyway.
posted by COBRA! at 8:59 AM on May 7, 2004


I could have sworn there was an Agatha Christie murder mystery that was written in the 2nd person. The big ending is that the narrator is the murderer.

Oh wait. Maybe it was written in 1st person. I can't remember any more.
posted by grum@work at 9:10 AM on May 7, 2004


Damn You acidrabbit... That was going to be my answer.
posted by drezdn at 9:16 AM on May 7, 2004


I am Jack's raging colon.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:00 AM on May 7, 2004


Tom Robbins' Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas is written in the second person. And I was going to mention Iain Banks, but I see it's been done.

Both of these authors are favourites of mine, and both these books two of my least favourite by them
posted by sauril at 10:00 AM on May 7, 2004


The short story, "How to be the Other Woman" by Lorrie Moore. From her great book, "Self-Help."
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 10:01 AM on May 7, 2004


Flaubert's Parrot? WTF? This link should show the first page, and you can see that it's not second-person at all. ("Not a watch, as I first thought, or a tattoo...")
posted by languagehat at 10:25 AM on May 7, 2004


A Man Asleep (Un Homme Qui Dort) by Georges Perec, is a short novel written entirely in the 2nd person.
posted by misteraitch at 10:30 AM on May 7, 2004


I could have sworn there was an Agatha Christie murder mystery that was written in the 2nd person. The big ending is that the narrator is the murderer.

Oh wait. Maybe it was written in 1st person. I can't remember any more.


It's the first person. I won't mention the title, as that could be a bit of a spoiler (though the book is fairly famous for this device).
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:05 AM on May 7, 2004


(Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas is also highly recommended for monkeys and friends of monkeys.)
posted by jpoulos at 11:08 AM on May 7, 2004


Frederick Barthelme has a couple of short stories in 2nd person - Shopgirls is the only one whose title I remember.

I think they are listed in the bibliography that Jessamyn linked to above.
posted by drobot at 12:10 PM on May 7, 2004


I'm pretty sure Roger Zelazny's The Great Book of Amber is written in the second person, but I don't have my copy on me to verify.
posted by jmd82 at 12:51 PM on May 7, 2004


Large portions of Rape: A Love Story by Joyce Carol Oates are written in 2nd person. It just came out last year and its a really good and fast read. It's not pornographic in the way i think of the word.
posted by Slimemonster at 2:24 PM on May 7, 2004


jmd82-

Zelazny's Amber books are all 1st person. Great, but first person.
posted by filmgeek at 8:32 PM on May 7, 2004


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