Second Person Contrivances

Ok, I was perusing bookstore at Heathrow airport when I ran across this book Please look after Mother.  It is a korean book translated into english.  I picked up the book because of the novelty of an korean author by the way.  Here is an except from the first chapter.

IT’S BEEN ONE WEEK since Mom went missing.

The family is gathered at your eldest brother Hyong-chol’s house, bouncing ideas off each other. You decide to make flyers and hand them out where Mom was last seen. The first thing to do, everyone agrees, is to draft a flyer. Of course, a flyer is an old-fashioned response to a crisis like this. But there are few things a missing person’s family can do, and the missing person is none other than your mom. All you can do is file a missing-person report, search the area, ask passersby if they have seen anyone who looks like her. Your younger brother, who owns an online clothing store, says he posted something about your mother’s disappearance, describing where she went missing; he uploaded her picture and asked people to contact the family if they’d seen her. You want to go look for her in places where you think she might be, but you know how she is: she can’t go anywhere by herself in this city. Hyong-chol designates you to write up the flyer, since you write for a living. You blush, as if you were caught doing something you shouldn’t. You aren’t sure how helpful your words will be in finding Mom.

First of, at the airport, I didn’t notice it was written in second person. Perhaps I was too dazed or something.  But I was drawn into the emotion and very heart wrenching portrait of the mother.  

Too often when I read a second person narrative,  I get the feeling that author is trying too hard to shock you into a gritty wild emotion or some horrific event.   After reading that, I see that there is no need to resort to blandly shocking events or wild emotions to engage the reader.  

Well that’s just me.  You’d probably beg to differ.


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