“You keep thinking that with practice you will eventually get the knack of enjoying superficial encounters, that you will stop looking for the universal solvent, stop grieving. You will learn to compound happiness out of small increments of mindless pleasure.”
The use of “you” in a narrator creates a type of shared experience between the reader and the writer. McInerney’s novel is a famous example of second person narration. He understood the lifestyle he himself had been living – working at The New Yorker and doing numerous lines of cocaine and being married to a model – was a lifestyle readers might want to experience. Therefore, “ You snort the cocaine. You work for a persnickety ogress in Factual Verification in the hopes to one day write for Fiction. You tell no one your model wife has left you. You prefer to ignore reality, too.”
The use of “you” works as a narration tool if the writer can create a certain degree of empathy or affinity in the narrator. Then the writer can establish that unique connection between narrator and reader.
Have you read “Bright Lights, Big City?” What are your thoughts?