As a historian, I at times get my fingers on Latin texts. Latin has a rather peculiar use of past and present tenses:
Usually, texts are written in Imperfect, which is the 'simple past', with things that are before that written in Perfect or Plusquamperfect. Now, at times there comes a narrator that clearly speaks about the past but switches for a brief part (a couple of paragraphs at most) into the Present. This is called Historical Present, which is usually...
...used in vivid or dramatic narration of past events.
In translations, this switch of tenses as often translated as it is fixed, in scientific texts it is even noted where this happens. But let's instead focus on modern English.
Is historical Present a thing that can be properly used to express a shift to more vivid storytelling in English?
I know that some authors have at least played with this, for example, Charles Dickens in David Copperfield - note the switch. For easier spotting, I put the verbs in bold, and those in present in bold and italics:
If the funeral had been yesterday, I could not recollect it better. The very air of the best parlour, when I went in at the door, the bright condition of the fire, the shining of the wine in the decanters, the patterns of the glasses and plates, the faint sweet smell of cake, the odour of Miss Murdstone’s dress, and our black clothes. Mr. Chillip is in the room, and comes to speak to me.
"And how is Master David?" he says, kindly.
I cannot tell him very well. I give him my hand, which he holds in his.
 - John J. Schlichter, The Historical Tenses and their Function in Latin, in Classical Philology Vol 26 #1 (1931), pp. 46-59. Here: p.46
 - Charles Dickens, The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery aka David Copperfield, published at Bradbury & Evans/London (1850), Chapter IX.