oh hell, i use the first person all the time. well, often, anyway. and of course i've never been accused of a shortage of ego. i was just trying to make a point, one that is probably inherently biased by years of editing bad first-person writing. (i sometimes think there should be an apprentice period for writers, during which they are allowed no self-glorification. if they last, there's plenty of time for that afterward).
and, yes, when you write "the salsa was wimpy," there is an implied first person. my problem is not with boldly (or baldly) stated opinion, my problem is with the sloppy use of the first person. to my taste, saying "i found the salsa wimpy" is the same as "the salsa is wimpy", except that it is softer and less direct. if you're going to express an opinion, just say it!
i also find that writing in the first person tends to take the reader out of the story. write in the third (even in a wildly individual--no, egocentric--third) and the reader is put in the place of the writer, experienceing things for themselves without the distraction of an intervening character. write it in the first, and the whole thing is happening to somebody else, not to him.
as for john's neo-victorian suggestion: "Upon tasting the disgusting mess on the plate, one might have wished to stick one's finger in one's throat." i'd suggest the more yankee-ized "the mess on the plate was so disgusting you wanted to stick your finger down your throat." unless, for some reason, the point of the story is that it is YOU wanting to stick your finger down your throat, rather than the reader at large.
(careful readers will note that this was written entirely in the first person: one effect of the voice is of softening criticism: "i think this, you may reasonably think otherwise". i find this especially effective after a long rant. and let me be clear, once again, that this is not aimed at robb (or at john thorne or jeffrey steingarten). if everyone wrote in the first person as interestingly and as engagingly as they do, i might have to revise my opinion. heaven forfend!)
Edited by russ parsons, 11 February 2004 - 10:50 AM.