Funny how you wake up early when you fell asleep at 9:00 pm watching TV, isn't it? With the time on my hands these past couple of hours, I've finally started Dean Koontz's The Darkest Evening of the Year, which I gave to Lisa for Christmas. And, very unusually for me, I feel compelled to comment on a book while I'm reading it.
I'm having the most curious experience with Darkest Evening, in that I'm finding myself both inside and outside the story as I'm reading. Dean's prose is simply gorgeous, moreso than in anything else I've had read by him. His only work that comes anywhere near to this is Midnight, which really isn't one of my favorites. That aside, I find myself going back and rereading passages often, and I intend to pull a few of them out for my quote file.
I've noticed in previous books that Dean, who has an unflagging sense of story and a wonderful way with characters, often tends to overreach on description. That tendency often reminds me of a phrase I tried out in a short story in one of my college creative writing classes, "The old man had bales of cotton-white hair." My classmates had quite a laugh over that neophyte blunder. That's the kind of authorial clumsiness that can grab a reader by the scruff of the neck, yank him right out of the story, and promise to beat him bloody if he has the temerity to crack the book open again. Dean's "transgressions" in description are seldom that egregious, but they do at times present minor obstacles down the paths of his tales.
In the first 75 pages of Darkest Evening, I have yet to find a single description that yanks me out of the flow of the story. Yes, I said that I have stopped often to reread a particularly lovely passage; not once has that broken the spell of the story.
I hope there's more of the little girl Theresa and her "twilight eyes". Perhaps it's no accident that Twilight Eyes is the latest mass market paperback reprint of an earlier Koontz.
For now, it's back to Darkest Evening, with no notion of where the story is taking me, but a willingness to go along for the journey, the expectation that I may have already covered the finest part of this book, and the determination that I won't forget the feeling that has come from what I've already read.