“Twilight” by William Gay: I’m abandoning this because the author has abandoned punctuation.

I picked up “Twilight” in the expectation of sitting down for some Southern Gothic horror. Set in 1950s Tennessee, it tells the story of a teen brother and sister trying to get revenge on an undertaker who secretly does unthinkable things to the bodies he buries.

The kids have discovered this by digging up the graves and taking photographs of the desecrated bodies they find inside the coffin. The twisted things the undertaker has done are described in detail.

Perhaps I should have found that horrifying. I didn’t, It’s interesting as a story premise but not horrifying.

The thing that horrified me, that made me put the book aside because I couldn’t take it any more was… the deliberate removal of punctuation that identifies direct speech.

Why would anyone do that?

Is it meant to add something?

Does it liberate me from the tyranny of textual clarity?

Is it a fashion? Please tell me it’s not a fashion. Gay was sixty-five when this was published. Isn’t that old enough to be fashion-free?

Here’s an extract to show you what I mean. The ebook is published with a one-character indent to mark a new paragraph and with no lines between paragraphs. The result is a conversation between two people that looks like this:

   Because it all balanced out. Because I knew something that he didn’t know.
 I knew he was going to die and I’d still be alive.
She was silent for a time studying him. She shook her head. You’ve got a hell of a way of looking at things, she finally said. But let’s get back to Fenton Breece. I’ve been thinking about this, and I know how to make him pay where it’ll hurt him the worst. In the pocketbook. How long have you been thinking about this?

This looks like vandalism of the text to me. Not to mention being a lot more difficult to figure out what is going on. I’ve decided life’s too short. I’m abandoning this and reading something else


Amazon declined to publish this review as they think it breaches their reviewing guidelines.

I’ll remember that the next time I read all those glowing reviews on Amazon.

2 thoughts on ““Twilight” by William Gay: I’m abandoning this because the author has abandoned punctuation.

  1. As English is not my mother tongue I sometimes,when I reread some of my very little blogs,cringe and think “why didn’t I see this?”. But then,I do not have an editor and I do not exactly publish worldwide. But this is hardly readable…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I make errors all the time. I’ve just had to correct a spelling and a cut and paste error in this post.

      What I found hard about what’s being done here is that it’s deliberate.

      The book has lots of five star reviews but I’m not willing to wade through something that’s deliberately been made harder to read.

      Liked by 1 person

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