On Dean Koontz and Will Shakespeare
I read 'Dean Koontz: A Writer's Life" last night.
I loved how a publicist described his rise to stardom: He built a loyal following with every book, then added new readers with every new book while keeping the old readers. She added that this was the "traditional way". Seems to me to be the ONLY way!
Koontz speaks of the New Wave SciFi writers interestingly, confirming my sense that the larger part of the movement tested weak due to political and social positionalities. Only Harlan Ellison and Robert Silverberg treated the younger writers graciously in his bio.
I am impressed also by his Honorary Doctorate speech, where he lays it straight out for the students: He says the world does not want your new ideas, but they need them. Interesting; tough view.
The stuff about his father sounds so much like one of his novels. It made for pretty harsh reading and helps contextualise the frightening and rough reading in his novels. The role of experience takes primacy over the interpretation of experience in the early novels, while in the latter the inclusion of self-awareness allows an openness and inclusiveness which seems to attract more readers to his work.
I also appreciate how the biography connects Koontz's work to Charles Dickens novels. The genealogy of influence from Shakespeare is interesting to outline: novelists had trouble coming to grips with Good Will's influence for a long time. So I would like to trace that line of influence here for my own clarification.
I met Will through the plays themselves, of course. But even before them, I had met him indirectly in Pere Goriot, perhaps Balzac's most Shakespearean novel. Then later I learnt that, before writing Crime And Punishment, Dostoyevsky had translated into Russian Pere Goriot, and it became clear that the line of Will's influence had migrated into fiction directly through these two writers whom I read at 15 and 16 years, before reading Shakespeare for two years while I was 17 and 18.
The Americans Koontz and King come at it more frankly. Dickens was emmersed in Shakespeare, marinated in the rhetoric and dramatic technique of the plays. He knew many monologues of Shakespeare by heart and performed them. So the dramatic inheritance of Good Will enters Koontz's and King's work with some of the flavour of Mr Dickens, some of the sense of place and time, some of the picaresque poetry, and some of the sentimental attachment to childhood vulnerability. I find Dante more useful in lessons on depicting place, poetry, and innocence personally.