What exactly is it that gives ‘Suttree’ it’s dream-like feeling? Is it the words, the use of words, or something else?
The words used I think have less signifigance – McCarthy, while not afraid to use words that may or may not require the reader to consult a dictionary, generally keeps to pretty basic grammar. No real magic to be found in the words he chooses to use.
The way these words are used, however, is what I believe really makes the magic of the story. Sentences are often strung together using ‘and’ in place of punctuation – this adds an almost Biblical feel to the narrative and is what accounts for part of the atmosphere. The stream-of-consciousnesses style often adapted also has an effect; the page-length paragraphs and abnormally long sentences give an otherworldly quality to the story. Why is this?
My thought is that it allows for a more immersing experience while reading – instead of simply reading through normal prose sentences, the reader becomes immersed in these great streams of thought and text, and the lack of punctuation helps the reader to drift along the streams of narrative. What happens is that the reader is drawn into the world of the story – the quality of this world that McCarthy creates is a depressing, hot, primitive world which coupled with the literary style really makes for an otherworldly kind of reading experience.