Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Every city has secrets. But none as terrible as this

With emphasis on terrible.

When I was fifteen-ish I read a lot of Stephen King and Dean Koontz. A very small number of those books made enough of an impression that I can still remember them, and most of them were King's. Of Koontz's stuff it's only Twilight Eyes, which was the first of his that I read, and The Bad Place that I really remember.

Recently I discovered that Mr. Koontz had come up with his own twist on the Frankenstein mythos, mad scientists and monsters and all, and I decided to order the first part of the trilogy, Prodigal Son.

The reason I stopped reading Koontz was that I wanted more. Not more plot or more suspense or more monsters, no, I wanted better writing. The reason that Koontz has sold millions and millions of copies of his novels is that he writes page-turners, and not because you have to know what happens on the next page, but because you sit down and read and all of a sudden you've read 130 pages and it feels like you've just been flipping through them without reading them. The text requires only the slightest processing involving higher brain functions, and it moves through the reader like sterile water. Tasteless, transparent, forgettable.

And I also wanted less. Less clichés. Less formulaic plots and characters. After a couple of books it was very easy to pick out who would die when and who would hook up with who.

So my expectations concerning Prodigal Son were very low. I went into this novel suspecting I would be disappointed. And I was, and am.

I'm sorry to say that Prodigal Son is a POS. Piece of shit. While the idea of a modern twist on the Frankenstein myth appeals to me, it's poorly executed both in terms of story and writing, and I find myself annoyed whenever I read it. And cliché upon cliché upon cliché. Tiresome.

I will finish it, because I rarely put down a book. The exceptions being Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close that I had to put down because I started crying, and Gravity's Rainbow because I just couldn't handle it. I've read Extremely since then, and enjoyed it immensely, and while I intend to read Rainbow some time, I need to make my way through some earlier Pynchon before I tackle it again.

After Prodigal Son, I will probably reread The Road or Pattern Recognition to purge my system of this literary travesty. Again, with emphasis on terrible.

ADDED:
I just took a "Which crazy writer are you" quiz, and the result is here!

What are the odds?

3 comments:

ege said...

I went through a Stephen King phase a while back, myself, but feel the same way you do about Dean Koontz. Bleah.

Oh, and I followed your link and took that quiz. I'm Hunter.

Steelwheels said...

Yeah, I'm Poe! Big frakking surprise, there.

I read some Koontz when I was a young'un, but I only remember Bad Place vividly. Everyone at my high school read it; even people who wouldn't normally read. My main problem with Koontz, besides the fact that he is a very lazy writer, is that all his protagonists end up having sex in contrived ways. Like: You're reading a horror novel, and then, all of sudden, you're reading a cheapo sex novel. Not my cuppa.

beardonaut said...

ege: I have a few King on my shelf, but the only ones I will return to are "The Bachman Books" and "On Writing". Might need to check out the Dark Tower-series at some point.

Steelwheels: quoth the Steelwheels. Nevermore!

That's not just Koontz's problem. It's a recurring thing in horror/fantasy/sf. I think that deep down many of those writers want to write all-out erotica.