While getting back into the groove of getting things done (albeit a bit more clumsily) I’ve been taking the time to read a book loaned me by a friend (Hi, Jes!): Saving CeeCee Honeycutt. This isn’t a review of the book, although I imagine there will be one forthcoming in the next week or so, but rather a question about literature in general. The whole thing, well, the whole four chapters I’ve read, is in the past tense. The same thing happened with Little Bee – most of it was written in past tense recollections.
I’m trying to rack my brain to think on what other literary titles have done this recently, but I can’t come up with any. Instead I can say I’ve read a bunch of sample pages of people’s works across the internet and found that many people are doing this as well. Why the past tense/first person phenomena?
As a reader I find myself ever so much more moved by a piece when it’s told presently. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there can be no recognition of the past or that the characters can not have moments of recollection, but why not phrase it so we know it’s the past but use present terms? Make it so the reader can’t help but FEEL what the character is going through without adding the distance brought about by “I did”, “back then” or “I felt”. What are your preferences in such things? Do you notice? Do you care? Can this be done effectively? If so – what titles would you recommend?