The First Person and Other Stories by Ali Smith: The Second Person

the first person and other stories

The Second Person is another story in this collection where Smith is focusing on the use of pronouns. Unlike The Third Person which has multiple story-lines, The Second Person is based on a single plot where two lovers are imagining what they’d do in a musical instruments store. The narrator pictures her partner (their genders aren’t revealed, but I pictured the narrator as a woman and the lover as a man) buying a Stephanelli accordion because “you’d like a word like Stephanelli more than you’d like a word like Hohner,” and then going back to the store the next day to purchase another accordion because the “thought of the accordion being a bit like a single wing or a single lung would make you uneasy.”

The lover isn’t too happy about this, thinking this is the narrator’s way of suggesting he is wasteful and whimsical. Nonetheless, he goes to describe what he thinks would happen at the store when the narrator steps in.

From department to department people are playing the same happy tune on every single instrument in this shop, it’s like the shop is alive, its walls are moving to the rhythm, and the tune builds and builds, only threatening to come to an end, only fading down, as you walk towards the shop door and reach your hand out to open it. Down, down, down goes the tune, but then, just to see what will happen, you let the door handle go and you take three steps back from the door, and like a joke the music soars out really loud again.

I’ve only quoted the last part, but I felt his imagination is cute. However, it backfires as the narrator believes this is her lover accusing her of being a “self-dramatist who goes around the world thinking I’m special.” And these misunderstandings lead to a silly yet heated argument, although they finally make up.

Once again, I’m not sure if this has any deeper meaning other than showcasing the second person point of view in stories. But I enjoyed reading it. ūüôā 4 stars.

One comment

  1. Sounds very interesting.


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