Here’s some audio I hadn’t heard before: Cormac McCarthy, Pulitzer Prize winner and the author behind iconic works such as The Road and No Country for Old Men, speaking about his minimalist approach to punctuation.
The reason I’m posting here is because he cites James Joyce as a reference point for his punctuation style, while also name-checking 18th century writers (“like Swift or someone”) who “wrote so well but punctuated so poorly”.
While there’s a lot to be said for clarity and “simple declarative sentences”, as McCarthy says, I can’t help feeling that he takes things to the other extreme.
Having used quotation marks, sub-clauses and parentheses in the space of a few short lines, I’m probably emblematic of all McCarthy rails against, but a confession: I love the contribution punctuation can make to a great sentence.
The audio below is taken from a rare interview McCarthy gave to Oprah Winfrey in 2008.