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Listening to prose
So, I had read seventy three Koontz books in paperback earlier in life, and am currently listening to a book of his. The simple act of listening is different, in a number of ways that I've found. Perhaps it's that not having to use my eyes to absorb the information(instead using my ears) frees up a part of the brain that would otherwise be used to translate the text.
The "tricks" that Koontz uses to keep the reader engaged pop out. Idiosyncrasies of his style that I wouldn't otherwise notice are emphasized. To make this post productive, I'll explain a generic carrot that seems applicable in a lot of potential plots, that Koontz uses a lot. Of course, mystery is a lure(a carrot), but that's like saying a sunset is art. It doesn't quite click. The method of producing mystery takes a deep understanding of the human psyche, and what makes a person tick.
So, the theme that jumped out in Koontz' most recent book is that of an alien intelligence. Not extra-terrestrial necessarily, but simply an "unknown" intelligence. A pair of animals never before seen on Earth, with features unheard of, and intelligence in their eyes. A man born into demented genius after gestating in a toxic soup from his mother's drug use. A prehistoric organism returned from millennia of dormancy to feed. These elements have a few things in common, that can be distilled as the primary factors that produce suspense.
One is that the intelligence has unknown capacity. The reader doesn't know what the entity is capable of. Is it so fast that if it were to attack, you would have no defense? Perhaps. The other is that the intelligence has unknown intent. It's strange, but that doesn't make it good or evil. If, as the author, you use a mix where it appears the intent could go either way, it would be suspenseful.
But that's a digression. The point of this post is analyzing other authors by listening to audio books, rather than reading their books. Has anyone else noticed the difference?
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Re: Listening to prose
Audio books are still too unnatural for my liking, especially the ones read in wooden American accents. I still don't know how The Lovely Bones ended, so insufferable was the narrator on the CD I had; come to think about it, it may have been Sebold herself, but I can't remember now.
I did find Bryson's reading of the abridged version of Down Under an easier listen, though sadly the cracks were beginning to show in his travelogue shtick. It was quite dissimilar to my other experiences with his work, and I do wonder if I was scrutinising him differently because of the alternative medium. I really thought he had run out of steam and was destined to ride on his laurels like a magic carpet for the rest of his career, but my fears were gloriously dispelled by A Short History of Nearly Everything.
But where are my manners, I'm in the presence of one of the foremost students of Dean Koontz I'm likely to encounter. I didn't know he'd written so many books, nor that he was ahead of his contemporary Stephen King in the race to a reach a century of works. I've meant to read him one day, but had no idea where to start. He hasn't by any chance got some stellar short stories that I can use as a cheat sheet for getting acquainted with him on the double quick?
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