Mamatas: – The First and Final Cut.

Another common urge of the beginning writer of realist fiction is to write a novel in the first person, using present tense. The putative reason for this technique is the widely held belief that such a combination is more intimate than either singly. This is not true. Present tense is actually estranging, and consistent present tense undermines first-person narration. When we sit down and recount stories, we as speakers shift tenses according to whim and various unspoken rules of conversation. What these writers want to have their readers experience is the intimate quality of successful literary novels written in the first person, present tense.  The intimacy of these novels comes from the skill of the author, not from the person or tense. Using first person with present tense just to generate intimacy is like painting your car red to make it go as fast as the red Formula One race car you saw on television while flipping through the channels this past Sunday.  It’s stupid and means that your genitals should be removed if you persist. Like Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, three generations of imbeciles are enough.

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