Koontz on stories

Today is Sissel Kyrkjebø’s birthday.

And no, I didn’t send her a present. She didn’t send me anything last year, and I do have some pride.

I’m currently reading Dean Koontz’ Mr. Murder, which I’m finding even more excruciatingly suspenseful than his usual stuff. Koontz has adopted the wise policy in recent books of making his heroes blue-collar workers, a tactic that’s both fresh and realistic, and I salute it. In this older book, though, he falls back on the conventional author’s timesaver of making the main character a fellow author (saves research). But it gives him the opportunity to make some dramatically appropriate comments on the idea of Story Itself. Here the hero, Martin Stillwater, talks about it with his wife:

He said, “You and I were passing the time with novels, so were some other people, not just to escape but because… because, at its best, fiction is medicine.”

“Medicine?”

“Life is so d*mned disorderly, things just happen, and there doesn’t seem any point to so much of what we go through. Sometimes it seems the world’s a madhouse. Storytelling condenses life, gives it order. Stories have beginnings, middles, ends. And when a story’s over, it meant something, by God, maybe not something complex, maybe what it had to say was simple, even naïve, but there was meaning. And that gives us hope, it’s a medicine.”

7 thoughts on “Koontz on stories”

  1. I’ll go for that. Stories have some meaning, which gives us hope for our own story. That’s why nihilistic stories are so depressing.

  2. I haven’t read Koontz for years, but Mr. Murder fired my imagination at a very young age. It’s dark and speculative and ultimately hopeful, like many of his works, including his grimmest efforts like Intensity.

  3. I don’t remember if we’ve talked about it, Lars, but do you like Sissel’s song, Weightless? I just listened to it several times on YouTube.

  4. It’s not one of my favorites of hers. I don’t find it particularly melodic, and (as I recall, haven’t listened to it recently) I thought the lyrics were weak.

  5. Nah. I’ve lived long enough to have given up on ever understanding other people’s musical taste. I don’t get what they like; they don’t get what I like. It goes without saying that I’m right, but I’ve despaired of constructing a Unified Theory.

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