Winter Of My Distraction

Ok.  The fourth blog entry is a little bit early for my contradictions to be parading in, but here they are.  So, sure, I swore, in my second post, that I would finish reading The Inevitable instead of putting it down for something else.  Well, I’ve made a liar out of myself…sort of.  I haven’t put it down.  I’m still reading it, but…I did pick up another book and start reading it.  I have an excuse—I mean an explanation (notice how my prides dabbles in logistics).

I’m not really reading the book alone.  I’m reading it to someone.  Yup, you heard me, I’m reading a book aloud to someone.  No, it’s not a bed-ridden invalid.  It’s one of my closest friends.  He is far too intelligent not to be a reader, so I’m subjecting him to a book.  But I promise that I picked an entertaining book, Winter Journal by Paul Auster.

I’m am a huge fan of Auster’s New York Trilogy and when I saw his name in my NPR phone app, I clicked on the program instantly.  The interview is with Fresh Air’s always fantastic Terry Gross.

Winter Journal is, as Auster puts it, “a catalog of sensory data”.  Translation: the book is made up of small little pieces & memories revolving around Auster’s body.  In the first 25 pages, it jumps from the near beginning of his life to the recent past and about 50 places in between.  He realistically & quite tangibly relays the panic & trauma of a car accident, when seconds before he had you laughing at a five-years-old’s impression of his own penis.”…how fitting that you should have a miniature fireman’s helmet emblazoned on your very person, on the very part of your body, moreover, that looks like and functions as a house.

This ability to turn the reader’s emotions on a dime makes for inspiring reading, but one of the most fascinating things to me about the book is the narrative style.  It’s written in Second Person.  What the hell is that, right?  Well, don’t feel ashamed if you don’t know, most of us don’t even learn it in school.  English teachers will tell students about First Person and Third Person but usually skip Second Person because it’s so rare.  (The last thing I read in Second Person was a chapter in Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From The Goon Squad & before that I couldn’t even think of anything.)

To simplify, First Person narration is participating (i.e. I said this, I did that) & Third Person narration is observing (i.e. He said this, She did that), but Second Person narration is commanding (i.e. You said this, You did that).  Way to put the reader in the driver’s seat, Mr. Auster!

Ok.  Class dismissed.  Go read a book to someone sexy while you both get drunk.  Maybe you’ll even get laid.