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You: An Anthology of Essays Devoted to the Second Person edited by Kim Dana Kupperman

What a lovely collection. But first, full disclosure: lead editor on this book, and founder of the publisher Welcome Table Press, is my faculty advisor for this semester of graduate study. I should not be considered an unbiased source, although I protest that I genuinely enjoy the book!!

These essays are collected for their second-person point of view, and include many I have already known and loved as well as some new to me. Put together like this, and with Kim Kupperman’s brief but artful introduction, they highlight the versatility of the second person, which can address the narrator herself (or an earlier version of the self); a specific individual; or a generalized “you.” It’s a diverse collection; but if there is a common thread, it is the intimacy of this POV, bringing the reader close to the narrator.

I have already admired and (in some cases) written about: Rebecca McClanahan’s “Interstellar,” Kupperman’s “Full Green Jacket,” Amy Leach’s “You Be the Moon,” and Sonja Livingston‘s “The Ghetto Girls’ Guide to Dating and Romance.” There were other authors I was familiar with too: Brenda Miller, Paul Lisicky, Molly Prentiss. I guess it’s comforting, and exciting, to begin to feel like I “know” these names. But the learning never ceases, and thank goodness.

I guess it should go without saying that not every essay in this collection appealed to me. But most did; and I appreciated the diversity of approaches to the second person, and results from it, in terms of my emotional response and what I felt was communicated, and the tone. Intimacy may be a constant, but intimacy can feel like a few different things for the reader: she can be upset, touched, amused, thoughtful or entertained, in various combinations. I was especially excited about a few of them: Kim Adrian’s “Questionnaire for My Grandfather”; Amy Leach’s “You Be the Moon”; Sonja Livingston’s “The Ghetto Girls’ Guide to Dating and Romance”; Rebecca McClanahan’s “Interstellar”; and Becca Lee Jensen Ogden’s “Nothing Good Happens after Forty-One Weeks.”

It’s remarkable that there’s a collection like this in the world. Or is it remarkable that this (published in 2013) is the first of its kind? What a wild and wonderful world of essays, literature, art in all its forms. I feel so lucky to be a student–of this, of life.


Rating: 8 disgusting essays about love.

One Response

  1. […] Beall Smith came recommended for his contribution to You. That essay, called “being [t]here,” didn’t particularly grab me (put it up next […]

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