I was watching 'Frasier' the other night. At one point he advises a man who is contemplating writing his biography to use the present tense, that it added a sense of urgency.
Like the advice that Frasier gives out on his show, I think this gem stank. Maybe I am being unfair, I have a particular antipathy to the use of present tense, particularly when combined with a first person narrative.
I will now rant about this pet peeve of mine.
I think using the first person is generally done out of laziness. It saves the author having to describe the MC, or indeed anything at all as we can be shown through the MC's eyes instead of having to interpret descriptions. It is much easier to write but what does it add to the story? Usually when I read first person I hear the author's voice rather than the characters - and so often this ruins a perfectly good story where, for the example, the teenage boy/girl sounds like a middle-aged woman. I also think it takes from the story because we know the MC is going to survive (unless the author cheats).
Present tense - what does that add? Again I think this is done out of pure laziness, and I find it both irritating and boring. Irritating because it makes no sense - you can't tell a story in present tense because every action is immediately in the past. And what does it add? Does it truly make the story any more believable? Or urgent??? I find these stories boring because generally the less talented writers use this format (and if you can prove me wrong, please do so!)
First person present tense - arrgh what a combination! I shall say no more.
Seriously, I can think of few occasions when first person is used well. Wilkie Collins 'The Moonstone' is a brilliant exception where the first person narratives are done perfectly and each character is so diverse. I think first person narrative works well for Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas tales but I don't think I'd like to see him use it in his other books. Don't get me wrong - I have enjoyed many stories which have been told in first person (eg 'Rebecca' by D. DuMaurier, 'Laughing Gas' by PG Wodehouse) but I think I'd have preferred them written in the third person. (Quick aside: I understand writers like to experiment with different styles, so first person is not always written out of laziness!).
I can think of nothing written in the present tense that I could rate as a good read.
Please let me know of any books written in either/both first person and present tense that are good!