I settled at last on a three star review because of the fact that I liked the story and characters despite the flaws which screamed in my face throughout. The style sadly was just like in The Road and only the characters, plot and locations made the book a more worthwhile read for me. I can now at least see what McCarthy attempts to create even if it fails to work for me and why he is appreciated in literary circles. Because despite the flawed storytelling (in my view at least) he has some unique thoughts and interestingly created characters.
McCarthy utilises a stream of consciousness approach to convey his powerful ideas. However I found such ideas were hampered by the apparent avoidance of punctuation and grammar. But, you say, what about e.e.cummings - you appreciate his work why do you not like McCarthy attempting similar? And my answer is simply because he is: 1. Writing prose not poetic form 2. His rebellion against convention is not consistent. 3. In my view McCarthy does not have the same ability to play with language as e.e.cummings. He does not show the same playfulness. Rather his words are moulded to his specific purpose rather than being open to interpretation.
It is the fact that McCarthy is not consistent with his rebellion against convention which particularly irks me. I mentioned in my review of The Road how I hated the writing style and the plot for the same reasons I could not fully appreciate this. Firstly comes the avoidance of quotation marks whatsoever. This not only makes the work clumsy at times but also confusing. Particularly so when McCarthy chooses to have single line rapid conversations. All I'm asking is for some clarity and definition to your thoughts and the rushed character's speech, is that too much to ask? Because to be honest I often lost track of who was speaking and even if someone was speaking. As an effect it really doesn't work particularly well I think.
Secondly the fact that McCarthy will at some points use I'll and then in the next sentence ignore the apostrophe and write Ill or dont really annoys me. I've said it before I believe that we need grammatical conventions and punctuation in our writing to help make sense of it all. How else will we know if Ill really be talking about being ill?
Sure perhaps McCarthy attempts to show the rapid release of his thoughts but our thoughts are defined by language. And language must abide by consistent conventions. McCarthy's work just sends mixed signals; as if he never had an editor touch it.
I find it frustrating that McCarthy chooses to reveal his thoughts in the way he does. Because it just makes for confusing, conflicting reading. I know literary texts may challenge you but that takes it to the extreme. And there are some really great characters in this work too. It's a shame then that I cannot give higher than three stars and a shame that the writer appears to have forgotten that texts are constructs and not just a rush of thoughts put to paper.
If you can get past the writing style read this. If you hate anyone messing with grammer or punctuation then don't read this except to critique it.