Re: RARA-AVIS: Woolrich's "Fright" - 1st vs 3rd person narration

Date: 20 Feb 2008


Thanks for info! I guess my tendency to read older material (which got me interested in the genre in the first place) has left me relatively uninformed regarding some of the more recent trends in hardboiled fiction.

With regards to "Fright", the story is being told as a kind of reminiscence by a third person narrator sometime in the future relative to the events of the story. There is no obvious indication of a lack of direct knowledge of events on the part of the narrator when the shift to first person narration occurs. It seems to be primarily a means of heightening the tension when Marshall's perpetual conflict is most acute.

Now, I have yet to finish the book, but so far there is no indication who the narrator is or what their relation to the story might be. If and when this information is divulged, perhaps the reason behind Woolrich's choice to change narrative perspective will become clearer.

Best, Harry


> Harry,
> In recent hardboiled fiction, mostly PI novels, there's a trend to
> incorporate chapters of third person material in a narrative that is
> first person overall. This is often to report events that the narrator
> did not witness/was not involved in and/or to show the actions of the
> killer, often serial killer, being hunted by the PI. Block, for
> instance, has used it in at least one recent Scudder (I think he used it
> in the most recent one, too, which I have not yet read). The recently
> deceased Benjamin Schutz used the technique in his first novel, Embrace
> the Wolf.
> Mark

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