I don’t automatically reject second person, but I’m always surprised by its use. It’s such a strange, almost invasive way to tell a story. I need to think about why it was used. In the case of “The Button Bin,” by Mike Allen I think it serves as an extended metaphor for the final image of the story. But before you, (Oops! There’s that second person again!), before the reader gets there, the story has to make second person point of view work.
The reader is injected right into the action, building sympathy for the viewpoint character, who wants to save his niece from a collector of buttons. The story stays deep in the viewpoint character’s head, stepping out early only once into storyteller mode:
This is what she means to you.
It’s both a jarring line, and the only breath of air the reader gets before plunging into a darkening tale that alternates between past and present until they unite at the end. The buttons themselves are marvellous and sinister. Though it’s beautifully written, with compelling imagery, intense emotions, and hints of alliterative poetry, there are no white knights in this story. This reader found staying with the viewpoint passed from uncomfortable into repellant. The vivid final third of the story is revolting. I wanted a shower afterward.
That’s why I don’t read horror.
2 thoughts on “Re: The Button Bin”
Thanks for the review. If I hadn’t read (and loved) this wicked story already, your post would have sold me.
Thanks. I’m just trying to describe what sort of experience reading this story is.
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