where the writers are
In Defense of Punctuation

I'm in search of an answer. I need to know if anyone can tell me when it became acceptable in the writing of novels, or other creative narrative prose, to drop all use of punctuation.

I'm not exactly sure, but I think the trend began with Cormac McCarthy. I enjoyed his novel The Crossing, but found the absence of punctuation somewhat distracting. I recently began reading The Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig, and he has employed the same technique, which is as distracting as when I first encountered it when reading McCarthy.

Quite simply, in my opinion, I see the lack of punctuation as prohibiting, in that it keeps the reader from completely becoming immersed in the story being told.

Don't get me wrong; as a creative writer I am fully aware of the concept of artistic license. I have employed artistic license in various ways myself in my writings. However, it seems to me certain rules of the written language of choice should be adhered to no matter what, and I don't believe the proper use of punctuation should be thrown aside so readily. To do so hints of a possible laziness on the part of the writer, in my opinion, and shows a certain disrespect for the written word.

I tend to wonder if an aspiring writer, seeking to become published for the first time, would be granted the same leniency as top selling authors if he or she submitted to an agent a manuscript for review that lacked the required punctuation. If instead of using quotation marks, apostrophes and commas, he or she wrote like this throughout the pages: Lets go downtown and see if we cant find that book at the library John said.

If there is an artistic license explanation for this trend, it eludes me, and I'd welcome any enlightenment anyone has to send my way.