I earned an MFA from Wayne State University in Detroit. I've published over a dozen short stories in various magazines and e-zines. My novel, "The Dragons of Hazlett", is now out, and I have two new novels which will be published by Mundania Press, LLC this year and in 2011.
One day, my twelve-year-old son told me that his junior high English teacher had been explaining the difference between first person and third person points of view. When my son asked about second person, she said that there was no such thing (much to his outrage).
You opened the refrigerator and saw that your roommate had once again drunk all of your beer. Outraged, you pounded on his bedroom door, demanding an explanation. He kept his eyes on the video game he was playing and refused to answer. You stormed away, hating him.
Sounds weird, doesn't it? But while this type of writing defies convention, there are some writers who use it. One notable example is A Prayer for the Dying by Stuart O'Nan. This book is not only written in second person, it is also written in present tense which is doubly strange. Although I believe that this voice would be difficult to tolerate in a long work, A Prayer for the Dying is short. Additionally, the second-person present tense gives the story a powerful impact that it might not otherwise have had. If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it. (Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney is another example. I have yet to read that one, though.)
In the book Story Matters by Margaret-love Denman and Barbara Shoup, second person POV is also discussed. Story Matters, an outstanding resource for writers, quotes writer Pam Houston who says, "[A second-person] point of view is always about a 'narrator who's ashamed of herself, afraid to say I'." Story Matters goes on to say, "Using the second person washes a layer of shame over the story without the narrator ever having to admit it."
After reading that, I decided to try writing a story from the second-person POV. My story, The Scarlet Wristband, involved a young, teen aged boy who had to choose between telling the truth and saving his mother. Although the piece was successfully published in All Possible Worlds, when it was reviewed, my use of the second-person POV was criticizedbecause it placed too much distance between the reader.
Personally, I enjoy reading the second-person POV (in small amounts). I think it can lend some interesting angles to a narrative. But it can also fail miserably. Like so many unique narrative structures (such as diary entries), however, second-person POV is another tool in the writer's kit.