As we get ready for The Literary Debutante Ball tomorrow, One Story is also ushering in Spring with a new issue! I read this piece on the subway, and fell instantly in love with its sharp and witty voice. Here to tell us about “You, on a Good Day” by Alethea Black, is One Story Contributing Editor Will Allison, who took it through the editorial process. See you at the Ball! -HT
With apologies to Alethea Black, author of “You, on a Good Day,” which we’re proud to present in our latest issue:
You do not set the story aside simply because the second-person viewpoint usually seems to you self-conscious and contrived. You do not get impatient with the story’s unconventional structure, its refusal to unfold in scenes. You do not, at the story’s turning point, pretend you knew what was coming all along. You do not turn up your nose at the ending because it dares to be hopeful instead of stoic or dark, like the ending of a literary story is supposed to be.
You do not, you do not, you do not.
Not on this day. On this day, by the end of page one, you forget the story is written in the second person because the viewpoint is handled so deftly. On this day, you’re happy to be reading a story that breaks the usual rules, invents its own, and then plays by them fair and square. On this day, the story’s turning point—its insistent shift away from despair—strikes you as inspired, exactly the sort of thing you’d been wanting without even realizing it. And on this day, the story’s hopeful ending makes you wish more stories had hopeful endings. It gives you a nice little shiver, the thrill of emotional connection that, as a reader, you long for.
To read more about “You, on a Good Day”—including Alethea’s thoughts on the story’s second-person viewpoint and unusual structure —please check out our Q&A with the author.