There is a certain kind of book that makes me crazed. Well, exaggeration, of course. But which irks me. The chatty, wise first person narrator. Constantly pausing the drama to give me observations on LIFE. “I do like bean burritos,” I said, and the whole morning distilled, the sun through the window, the breeze, the smell of old tortillas, and I thought to myself, what am “I” but an idea of myself, and what is liking but a small emotion of comfort, and what are beans but something sprouted full and ripe from the good earth, and as for burritos, well, the good people who taught us how to eat them also gave us their way of life, their dreams, the omniscience of their communal desires. Which is all well and good, of course, except that presented with a burrito I want to eat it and not to contemplate it, because they are no good cold. When a first person novel decides to talk to me directly and offer me opinions, memories, snippets of poetry, wry puns, along with that sonorous rhythm of rhetoric that makes any sentence sound like a platitude, I feel as though I am being shoved slowly flat against a wall. Here is a book that is desperate to convince me about its existence, the value of its prose. These are the books that are obsessed with telling you what their protagonists think, hour after hour, in the middle of every kind of moment – staring at a woman whose husband has died and being reflected backward into perfectly composed memories about the husband – walking into a bedroom and remembering walking into another bedroom and perhaps then remembering that walking into that older bedroom triggered another memory of walking into yet another bedroom at some other time, and all of it ripe with pondering, lyrical if possible, in which the character, who is speaking on behalf of the author, runs on and on about what life means and what the struggle of day-to-day comes from and what it leads to, crests and troughs of empathy and understanding and metaphorical dazzlement. The sort of sentence that makes the reader pause in epiphany, fingertip on lip, and close the book for a moment, blazing with enlightenment. Oh yes, it’s just that way. A certain amount of this kind of claptrap is understandable and palatable and occasionally I am actually struck by a sentence to the point that I have to stop and think about it. But it is usually a turn of phrase or a moment of drama that strikes me. Not someone’s opinion. Especially not the five hundredth opinion of the reading session, stuffed into every paragraph and cluttering every action. There is a dreadful need of so many writers to explain their characters or, worse, to have the characters explain themselves.