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Call Me an Idiot But...I Love Dean Koontz

You want to know how stupid I am. Well, you can read this blog and get a pretty good idea. But I'm even stupider than you think.

I love Dean Koontz. There. I said it. If this guy writes it I read it. It's that simple. But I used to not leave Dean Koontz up on my bookshelf. He went underneath. He was a guilty pleasure. Oh, all the Dickens and Dostoevsky stayed up top for people to see. (Not that I ever have people over except a plumber because one of my kids flushed the car keys) But Koontz stayed out of sight just in case the plumber was a literary snob.

But not anymore. A few years ago I realized that Koontz is one of the only popular writers out there that doesn't look down on me. Dean Koontz believes in good and evil. Yeah, I said evil.

Koontz writes well, fits tons of humor in his books, and has heaps of suspense. Look, I read a lot of heady stuff. I read my Chesterton. And in fact, when I read Koontz I'm pretty sure he's read his Chesterton too. When I'm looking for a good story told with wit, humor and suspense Koontz is my guy.

I'm reading his newest called "Relentless" and it's so...Koontz. I'm loving it.

In one of his recent books Koontz described many modern nuns as "social workers who don't date." That's pith right there. And pretty darn accurate in too many cases.

Some of the reasons I like him is he approaches things from a Catholic perspective. He's worried about nihilism as are many Christians. He's concerned about the sacredness of each life. Even the villains.

In an interview with the National Catholic Register, he talks about his conversion:

What led you to consider Catholicism?

I met Gerda, my wife, when I was a senior in high school and she was a junior. We were from the same small town. She was Catholic.

My house was a disaster zone, and a lot of people in my family were endlessly fighting with one another. When I started dating Gerda, it was amazing to me that all these people [in her family] got along. They were an Italian family. It was a different world that I was seeing. I began to associate it with Catholicism.

Ultimately, I converted because the Catholic faith started appealing to me and gave me answers for my own life. I made the decision to convert during college.

Catholicism permits a view of life that sees mystery and wonder in all things, which Protestantism does not easily allow. As a Catholic, I saw the world as being more mysterious, more organic and less mechanical than it had seemed to me previously, and I had a more direct connection with God.

I feel about Catholicism as G.K. Chesterton did — that it encourages an exuberance, a joy about the gift of life. I think my conversion was a natural growth. Even in the darkest hours of my childhood, I was an irrepressible optimist, always able to find something to fill me with amazement, wonder and delight. When I came to the Catholic faith, it explained to me why I always had — and always should have — felt exuberant and full of hope.

And even in worldview, Koontz sounds like someone I'd agree with often. He was quoted as saying, "It had become apparent to me that the worst enemy of the working man and woman is the state, and that the average person is safest in a country that struggles to limit the size of the state." and this one: "We just left a century that gave us the worst mass murderers in history: Hitler, Stalin, Mao. History shows us, over and over again, that large groups of people given too much power over other people lose their humanity."

Koontz writes about the sacredness of life and he's not afraid of a little divine intervention at times. And hey, he's a dog guy.

If this novel writing thing ever goes down the tubes I'm right here and right now offering Dean Koontz a spot here at CMR. And we won't hide his stuff under anything else.

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25 comments:

Sarah said...

I've never read any of this books. I think I may pick one up to read on one of these beaches we have in O'ahu. :) Thanks for the tip!

Dawn said...

My mother is an avid Koontz reader. I always know what to get her for birthdays and Christmas. And he usually has a new book out right around those times. It's great! :) She's been sending them to my hubby and he's getting locked in as well.

Jennifer Merkel said...

I love all Koontz' books. They are truly journeys into another place, where you learn things about yourself that you could never learn in other places. He has the courage and skill to go beyond reality to find the truth. Amazing.

Subvet said...

I'll have to check him out. Anyone who speaks against big government as he evidently does is worth looking into.

Jen Raiche said...

Agreed.

Tracy said...

I used to read Koontz in high school (mid 90's). I quit because several of his books contained pretty graphic sexuality. Are his newer ones like this?

Former Koontz fan said...

I've read a few, too, but none of them could compare to the first one I read (can't remember the title), where people were becoming animals. After awhile I quit reading them because they all sounded the same, and because of the graphic sex scenes Tracy mentioned.

Neal said...

I'm with Tracy on this one; his earlier works (I haven't read his later ones) require a caveat. As long as unreading them is not an option, you might be better off not reading them at all.

44 said...

Well if Matt likes Dean Koonz then I guess I'll have to grab one of his books. Got a recommendation on which one?

Might also want to look into The Secret Cardinal by Tom Grace. I read it twice ;-)

Gail F said...

The horror is pretty graphic. I don't usually read that kind of book so I had a hard time with the Koontz books I read, though they were very good. Read the "Odd Thomas" ones, they are very Catholic -- although the newest one was a disappointment because 1) it is only half a book -- I think the publisher must have split it into two, and 2) the plot was not at all like the others and makes the main character do things I would rather he didn't. Oh, and lots of it will probably be blindingly obvious to Catholics but maybe not so to non-Catholics.

matthew archbold said...

He doesn't really do sex scenes anymore. I can't remember any for years.

Tracy said...

That is good to know! I will have to give him another try.

mfranks said...

Speaking of book recommendations... can anyone recommend any subversive novels which subtly promote 'Catholicity' to offer my "Athiestic" wife? I pray for my wife's conversion, but I could use a little help. :-)

I'm looking for novels to undermine my wife's anti-religious mindset without her being conscious of it.

Would these Koontz fit the bill?

Thanks,

Mark

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

I like the Odd Thomas books.

They're not subtle, but Christopher Stasheff's "A Wizard in Rhyme" series is fun, light, moving and...well, the result of a guy complaining for several years that fantasy books ALWAYS edit out the Church and her influence, then realizing he had to write something that didn't....

Anonymous said...

Are any Koontz books appropriate for a 14 year old boy? Please tell me more about Odd Thomas etc.

Msgr. Eric R. Barr said...

What a good storyteller Koontz is! I've always liked him, and before I knew he was Catholic I sure suspected it. Love for life, human life in all its forms, and love of a good Retriever were the clues I needed to figure that out. Anyway, he's really fine, so I highly recommend him.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

It would have to be a rather mature 14 year old boy for the Odd Thomas books, or any of Mr. Koontz' other stuff I've read. Don't know the kid, so no idea what his "style" is.

Odd Thomas: a guy can see the dead-- including Elvis-- and though they can't talk, he tries to help them solve whatever is keeping them on earth. Some gore, supernatural themes, can be pretty graphic about what is keeping them on earth. Has a messed up family, but very good friends.

I tried one of the Frankenstein books, couldn't get into it-- too much of a head-twister. Might appeal to the kind of 14 year old who likes chess or things that mess up your mind.

If he likes fantasy and wordplay, the Wizard in Rhyme I mentioned earlier.

Jeff Miller said...

I love his Odd Thomas series - especially Brother Odd.

Bill said...

Idiot

JimmyV said...

Thanks for letting me express my adoration. I love Koontz too! I've always sensed the deep Catholicism. I hid him in my bookcase too. No more! He's out of the cabinet!

Christopher D. Hall said...

I started reading Dean Koontz after I saw a profile of him in National Review.

I agree with those above: sex scenes gone for years, and his Catholicism becoming more predominate over the years.

As for the 14 yo, Absolutely! When I was 14 I was reading Stephen King, and Koontz is much more positive, life-affirming, and honorable...and awesome, which is important for a 14 yo.

Sarah Reinhard said...

I used to read him waaay back in my school days (as in JUNIOR HIGH!), and I've picked him back up since the Odd Thomas books. And then I found out he was Catholic. That's awesome.

THEN I found his podcast. Check it out; it's the humor and wit and the strain you've sensed. It's great, just like his writing.

TragicallyUnhipMom said...

To Mark/Mr Franks:

May I suggest asking the intercession of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton for your wife's conversion? I converted when I turned 21 - risking the anger and disownment of my family. I prayed to Mother Seton for their conversion. My family was PO'ed to put it mildly. Both parents were received into the Church in the next two years following my own reception.

Mother Seton is also a convert to Catholicism.

Just a thought...

Arnold Conrad said...

I love Dean Koontz's novels and proudly display an entire shelf of them in my library. I especially loved the Odd Thomas series, above all Odd Thomas and Brother Odd. Each of them has one of the most moving final chapters. I suspected Koontz is Catholic because the only religion that is ever mentioned in his books is the Catholic Church. Another excellent one is "Your Heart Belongs to Me." There is a final chapter about contrition and redemption that left me deeply moved. Thanks for the news about his newest "Relentless." I was not aware of it and will rush to the bookstore. I hear also that he is planning to complete the Frankenstein trilogy.

Cathy Adamkiewicz said...

Yes! I have been writing a blog post in my mind for weeks: My Love Affair with Dean.
His Catholic thinking is clear in his storytelling; his characters are complicated and profoundly crafted. His evil is as pure as his good. Wonderful. Even his books that contain horrific, graphic violence leave me feeling better about life. He is extremely gifted.

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