A seasoned essayist, George Melnyk has returned to the form with a flourish. Essay is his ideal genre. From the French, “essayer,” to try, it provides the same pleasures as the short story – pithiness, reverberating in ambiguity. After all, no one is ever guaranteed certainty of outcomes from one’s “trials.”
While Melnyk has always deployed the first person singular pronoun as a narrator, in First Person Plural he invites his readers to encounter him (in his encounter with artistic, literary and cinematic projections) as a plurality of persons (for which he devises a clever taxonomy, variations on “person”).
Recently, such writers as Lorna Crozier, Sue Olding, Myra Coulter and Jane Silcott have turned to the essay in the form of intensely personal, even interior, narratives. Melnyk’s essays, by contrast, contain multitudes, as he juggles public, social, private and secret selves in relationship with the desired “other.” But the main effect is of a cross-examination of the personae that constitute an autobiography, which he now makes public.