Re: McCarthy's writing style in "The Road"
I've only just started reading this book yesterday and I'm probably at around page 15 xD (I can't really say, I'm reading the Kindle version.... location 279), but the writing style hit me right from the get go. It's curious isn't it? I'd have to say it's almost autistic...
The use of punctuation is sparse at best.. Sentences at times seem to flow into each other and then suddenly stop at each period. He manages to do this without really being confusing so I'm hesitant to say they're all just mistakes.. I suspect it has more to do with his own personal way of writing. Really considering how clearly he's transmitting his ideas, it's a rather elegant use of punctuation.
The way he narrates their actions is also strange because he doesn't seem to maintain a continuous flow... Their actions are punctuated by descriptions of the characters' dialogue, or short descriptions of the character's surroundings, or of how their action "looks" (the way you would when you're describing something you remember seeing)... These short descriptions have the effect of being locally visual without being too descriptive. This means you imagine something very small, like how they're upsetting some weeds while trudging along, or what they're looking at when seeing a roadside gas station, while the rest of the scene is out of focus, painted by your own imagination as the story continues.
And then sometimes there's a disconnect between actions... so that you're left to guess how they've somehow gotten from one action to the other.
Notice that he seems to go from standing at a distance looking at the building, to going in, to looking through the toolbox to finally standing in the middle of the garage without really moving. To me this affords their actions a sort of dreamlike quality, which is strengthened by the use of the strong, not-as-descriptive, visuals.
The way the writer presents the world to us is also curious. Very visual, yet maintaining that dreamy feel. It's a lot like looking at the world through a window... It seems muted. There's a lack of emotions, no smell, very little sound and very little touch. We're told that the characters touch, but not what they feel when they do.
Of course the lack of description for the characters and the half spoken, half narrated dialogues have the same effect. While the characters some times look at each other (barely), we never "see" their faces; they never seem to smile or grimace or frown.
As the book progresses the world starts coming into focus, his style becomes somewhat more descriptive while still maintaining that introspective, abstracted quality of a story that is part experience part dream and part remembrance.
At this point I'd have to say the style's really interesting. Why? Well, he's transmitting a story, a feeling for that story and I'm still wondering where they're going and what's going to happen. To me that's a sign that the writer knows what he's doing. We'll see if I still think this further into the book.
I also like his use of memories and dreams in a sort of tangle with reality.
His style reminds me of James Joyce's in a way. They both weave the real with the imagined. I'm not saying that they're writing is similar... only that this writing style reminds me a lot of the other.