This usually is a fairly subtle change in your inner monologue, or perhaps your journal entries or daily emails. However, when the book in question happens to be written in the second person, this mental shift can cause quite a change in the way you think about and perceive your daily life.
Slowly, over the course of a few days, you begin to think about everything you do in a slightly hypothetical sense. You’re not sure if you actually made that turkey sandwich for lunch, or if you put mustard or lettuce on it or not. It’s as if someone posed the possibility to you: “Suppose you were to make yourself a sandwich.”
You recently read Jay McInerny’s 1984 novel Bright Lights, Big City, which just happens to be narrated from the second person point of view. You realize what a unique approach to a work of fiction this is, and are a little amazed that you were able to follow the plot of the book so well. But then you realize, it is precisely because of the writing style that you were pulled into the lives of the characters so quickly and completely. You are one of the characters yourself. How could you possibly put down a book that was written entirely about you? Never mind that you are not recently separated from your young wife or a fact-checker at a prestigious New York publication. And ignore the fact that you may not have developed a problematic cocaine habit or routinely spend your nights romping about Manhattan in an attempt to overcome your recent tribulations through sex and drugs. For all intents and purposes of McInerny’s novel, you most certainly are facing all of these issues. You read the book in just a couple days, in fact, because you were so keen to find out how you ended up living your life. And, though the book slightly disappoints your desire to find closure and discover how your life proceeds in the long run, the ending is still quite unsatisyingly satisfying, if that makes any sense at all.
You picked up this book from the library because of a Buzzfeed article you came across a couple weeks ago: “65 Books You Need to Read in Your 20s” (No joke, the article is even written just for you). Since you are spending your summer living with your parents, you decided to try to plough your way through as many of the books on your list. Thanks to the recent holiday weekend, you are almost done with your second literary endeavor of the summer, Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro. You are almost finished with that one, as well, and you are fairly certain it will merit another blog post quite soon.