Books–Forever Odd November 12, 2006Posted by caveblogem in Books, Constructivism, NaNoWriMo 2006, national novel writing month 2006, Other, writing.
This is the second of Dean Koontz’s two books about Odd Thomas, a young man who can see ghosts. The first novel is a little more interesting. This one seems to be a short story packed into a medium-sized book and makes me wonder if Koontz writes this particular series as part of National Novel Writing Month.
I have enjoyed the sometimes-guilty pleasure of a Koontz novel literally dozens of times, and I must say that there are a few that I have felt guilt over but little pleasure. This particular one I found maddening. Last summer I read two books while in California on vacation. One was Intensity, and the other I can’t recall the name of but was about an alien invasion that starts with a torrential rainstorm, a woman looking at wolves or coyotes on her deck. Yeah, that one. Anyway, his writing can really take you away sometimes. So it is really hard to understand the prose in this particular book. For example:
“Loving is as essential to Terri Staumbaugh as constant swimming is essential to the shark. This is an infelicitous analogy, but an accurate one. If a shark stops moving, it drowns; for survival, it requires uninterrupted movement. Terri must love or die.”
The phrase “infelicitous analogy” seems like it has been designed by a team of the most skilled German engineers as a speed bump for readers. It’s like Koontz wants us to pause, for some reason. I can’t imagine why a writer would want readers to pause over such a paragraph, because it certainly doesn’t bear close scrutiny well.
Now I understand that these words are supposed to come from the very quirky narrator, Odd Thomas (yes, this is his legal name). But it seems like you can make a character quirky without making readers gag. Another example:
“Clean-cut young men, neatly barbered and beardless, are not readily suspected of nefarious activity. I am not only barbered and beardless but have no tattoos, no earring, no eyebrow ring, no nose ring, and have not subjected my tongue to a piercing.”
The first part of that sounds almost like Nancy Drew. But the rest of it is far too verbose and points to a new tactic for those of you struggling to finish your 1667 words per day for NaNoWriMo. Simply list all of the things that don’t characterize your main character (well, all of your characters, I suppose). Let’s call it a constructivist approach to character: I am neither tall nor particularly short, athletic nor sedentary, rich nor poor, blind nor deaf, stupid nor smart, nor am I a Republican nor a Democrat. I bow to no man, no leopard, no iguana, no whippet, no australian shepherd, no civet, no fruit bat, no rhododendron, no salamander . . . You get better and faster at this as you go along.
So I’m wondering if this type of thing is appealing to some sort of demographic. Perhaps it is like rap music or hip hop or something and I’m just not clued in to it. It would really surprise me though.
Next Up: My Gun Is Quick, by Mickey Spillane