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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dean Koontz

I'm reading one of Dean Koontz's latest supernatural thrillers and I'm not sure that I want to.

This guy pisses me off. He pisses me off so much I'm going to spend half an hour writing a bunch of crap about how Dean Koontz pisses me off.

I know why I read Dean Koontz. It's because I like mystery in a book, and Dean Koontz understands the magic of mystery.

When I pick up Koontz I never look at the back of the jacket because I already know the story is going to deal in some measure of suspense and mystery and it may or may not involve the supernatural. Koontz is funny like that. He can write about sci-fi or the apocalypse or ghosts, or he might just do a thriller with maybe one strange thing that happens somewhere in the middle, but you never know what you're getting into and that's why I keep picking up his crap. The not knowing is so damn fun.

As for the hate of this love-hate relationship, I'd have to focus on the overall vibe and underlying themes that Koontz chooses to indulge himself in. Basically, there is evil and there is good, and while everyone has their own quirks and shit the underlying morality of the characters is unquestionable.

But what really bugs me are the bad-guys. They're always sub-human in design and the inner machinations of their heads never make any sense.
For example: Koontz could never write a character resembling Hitler because Hitler loved his dogs and that's not how things work in a Koontz book. Bad-guys hate dogs and animals and shit. I think there was one novel where a bad-guy dined on live baby mice. In a restaurant.
And bad-guys never possess a sense of humor, either. It's so weird. They just don't get jokes, so the good-guys can trick them in the most bizarre ways, like they're tricking some kind of broken robot.

Koontz is the kind of guy who reads the newspaper in the morning and grumbles about everything that's wrong with the world, most likely confiding with his golden retriever. I'm not saying I looked in the guy's window, but when you read a few books from the same author you just start to know things.

And he's a prose junkie, too. Koontz loves descriptions so much that, after a while I just get pulled right out of the story. Especially when he loses his mind and starts writing about the darkling darkness of all dark darks. I understand the guy likes to experiment and that's definitely one of his greatest strengths as a writer, but if I was an editor and I saw that sentence, I'd need a drink.

I will give Koontz one piece of credit: Despite what that one clown on the forum always says, he does not hang off the butt-hairs of Stephen King. They might cross genres every now and then, but otherwise they couldn't be any more different.

Koontz is a dour son-of-a-bitch. When he talks about some dude murdering his family in cold blood and raping the corpses or whatever (you'd be amazed how often shit like this happens in Koontz's stories) you get this sensation that Koontz's world-view is this nightmarish, polarized parody of the real world and Koontz wants you to know just how terrible it really is. Except, of course, for the hero with the tragic past. That guy is always a straight arrow.

Koontz also likes to take little time-outs in his narrative and share with you the things that really matter and how good, moral people should really think. He can go a few sentences or an entire page completely ignoring the story so he can impart this wisdom.

"Because God is never cruel, there is a reason for all things. We must know the pain of loss; because if we never knew it, we would have no compassion for others, and we would become monsters of self-regard, creatures of unalloyed self-interest. The terrible pain of loss teaches humility to our prideful kind, has the power to soften uncaring hearts, to make a better person of a good one." 
 Dean Koontz (The Darkest Evening of the Year)


Now when King writes about some psycho killing his whole family you end up smiling.

It's not like you agree with the psycho or anything like that. King just knows how to have fun with the dark shit. When he writes some of his more twisted passages his prose can get downright playful.

I find it easy to picture the man hunched in front of his computer with some sick, twisted grin on his face. I bet King laughs a lot when he's writing. His work gives that impression.

Koontz writes with a frown and a puckered asshole.

I still like him, though. Both his prose and his stories can catch me off-guard and remind me why I still read his crap.

1 comment:

  1. This might be your best post yet; I only wish I had something to say about it.

    But I haven't read either one of these guys (sick of hearing about them, I suppose).