Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Death of a Literary Giant

Well, maybe not a giant.  More like really small.  But really important! 

Have you noticed the "trend" (I am calling it this because I have read a few books like this lately) of modern authors to "forget" to use quotation marks?  I have.  And I am saddened by it.   Those little quotes help guide me along.  They tell me, "Wake up! Someone may say something important here."   Alternately, they tell me when one character stops talking and another picks up the conversation.  They also decorate pages of dialogue quite nicely (look at all the pretty commas!  It's like they are hanging themselves!). 

Why the infatuation with disregarding such an important literary piece of the puzzle?  I say bring them back and keep them FOREVER!



  1. To be honest I know only two authors that do that, James Joyce and Cormac McCarthy. I really like Joyce's manuscript style, and he does at least precede quotations with a hyphen and put them in a new paragraph. McCarthy just makes a new paragraph. It does make it a little harder, but you can usually figure it out. Overall, though, I agree that quotation marks should be used. It is helpful. Who are the other authors who don't use them?

  2. You should read Blindess, Jose Saramago. It is an intense book to read. I listened to 90% of it then read the last 10%. I was so glad I did because the punctuation is sparse and the quotation marks are nonexistent. I think it is more of a choice to illustrate his theme though. It's great.

  3. I can't think of any off the top of my head that do that, but it would be annoying. How would you know who was talking?

  4. I've only read it in McCarthy, but that was okay, I kinda got used to it.

    But I agree. Long live quotation marks!

    (found this blog via the hop, epic idea, am intrigued and now following)

  5. an idea SO epic I'm trying to fail. ;)

  6. Isaac - I am currently reading The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (no quotes, also other odd punctuation). I have seen it in Gilead (recent read) and The Road (I saw how it worked in that one) and couple others I can't remember at the moment. I haven't read any Joyce, yet.

    Kristiana - I always appreciate your suggestions because GoodReads says we agree most of the time (uncanny!).

    Becky - I know! It can be a little difficult to pay attention, too! I need some punctuation to keep me focused.

    Toni - It (the lack of quotes) was used to great effect in Cormac's work because all of it is so sparse. It drives the story forward (there are no long monologues). Thanks for stopping by and following, please feel free to disregard my husband's "inside internet jokes." I only get them because he tells me the funny part.

  7. i've only had that experience so far with Cormac McCarthy (The Road), and for me, it made everything so minimalist, I was forced to focus on just the story, just what was happening, the gravity of it. And i kinda liked it. but I'm pretty weird, I don't mind no quotations, I don't mind the whole stream of conscienceness thing either.

    btw, found you through the friday hop, can't wait to explore your site more!