Friday, November 13, 2015

Good Story 120: The City

In Episode 120, Julie (or Julianne, but never Jules) and Scott (or Scotty, but never Scooter) discuss The City, an excellent Dean Koontz novel.

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  1. During October I listened to several of Koontz books along with listening to this on this week in prep for your review. I of course knew it would be good since because it was going to be reviewed here.

    I totally loved this book. The story doesn't summarize well since there is so much more going on then the plot background. One thing I have grown to appreciate in his books is the clear-sighted optimism. Even amidst horror situations there is hope. Often even among thriller situations there are romances involved against this backdrop. Much of this evolves since the characters matter and he has such an understanding of the human condition. So usually I don't find a divide between the situations and how the characters react.

    This book really has the optimistic element with the emphasis on how everything will turn out in the long run. Not that there won't be horrible despairing situations, but that all will pass. Of course as Catholics this resonates since there is ultimate hope even for those whose life on earth was a horror. Reminds me of Mary telling St. Bernadette, that she wouldn't be happy in this life, but the next.

    The first thing the personification of "The City" made me think of was an Angel. In the Book of Revelation we have the Angels of the seven churches which seemed like Guardian Angels for individual churches. I think there has been some speculation regarding Angels and cities. So this is what first came to mind. The actual answer was better. Still a Angel with guardian duties for a city would make an interesting plot point.

    Returning to the characters in the book, there was so much to like about Jonah Kirk and the characters that surrounded him. The complexities in their relationships. His friend the sax player and his superstitions and how the understanding of them resolves at the end. The network his Japanese friend established in researching what happened in the past. Really quite a different coming of age story.

    Oh and as per the discussion regarding how we are always living in times of trouble and how the past gets idealized. St. Augustine discussed this very topic in "The City of God" and the idea where people always think they are living in the worst of times.

    1. Jeff,

      Thanks a million for this! I'm thrilled that you liked the book. It's been a long time since I've looked at "City of God" - I will try to do so during Advent.


  2. Later I realized that I was thinking of St. Augustine instead of Chesterton ... and that I completely forgot to mention Malcolm.

    I'd never have thought of summing up the tone as optimistic but Scott and you hit the nail on the head. I think I just expect optimism from Koontz!

  3. "The City" really was great. It's up there with "One Door Away From Heaven" as one of his best. It contains his usual optimism, brushes with danger, and spiritual awareness of a deeper world. There's so much going on. As a music fan I sure enjoyed the Big Band references. Big Band isn't a genre that is talked about much.

    My favorite of his is still the first book he did in this style, "From the Corner of His Eye". The connections in that one run deep and how everything ties together was so intriguing. I tend to prefer his newer stuff as a whole. Not that his older stuff wasn't good, but it was a different style that was more interested in thrills and chills (sorry for the tacky cliches) than in scope and characters.

    I think he's probably the one mainstream writer who is still alive that I don't have to worry about picking up a book and being thrown into knee-deep nihilism all the time. Getting a hammer over the head about how pointless the world is and that there are no heroes is just so beyond tired.

    1. Hi JD,

      I clearly need to read "One Door Away from Heaven"!