Monday, September 22, 2008

On "Taking You Fast" by Ann K. Ryles (4716 words) ***

I have yet to find a bad story in Stirring. But then again, Stirring so rarely publishes fiction that I get the feeling it's extremely selective. Here's a piece that is very finely written, full of the things one so often sees in fiction--adultery and child abuse. In Ryles's hands, however, they don't come off as pat. They come off as engaging. Part of this has to do with the second person. I have friends who simply reject any story written in the second person. I think this a big mistake. Granted, perhaps I'm a bit too prone to like stories in the second person. Blame that on all the Choose Your Own Adventure novels I read as a kid. But take this story and put it in the first person. It would seem to work fine (I'd say no worse or better than it does in the second person)--until the ending. Part of what's going on here is that "you" are in the present, remembering all these moments leading to this moment at the end. The first person, at the end, in the present tense, I would argue, would seem entirely contrived. You couldn't tell this story this way--you couldn't use the present tense. You couldn't leave us at the start of a trip into the unknown. You'd already be there, telling this story. You'd know. Read the story here.

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