I am a veracious reader, until recently, and Dean Koontz is way up there at the top of my favorites list. I have a collection of his books and when I am out and about, if I see one on the shelf, I usually buy it, even if I have previously read it but don’t own a copy. And yes, I even read them more than once. I found the one above while shopping last week. I examined it in the store and realized that I had not ever read it, even though it was published in 2004.
Recently however, I am not doing my usual high level of word consumption. I’ve been preoccupied with that other activity that I spoke of in my last blog. So, Mr. Koontz sat on the dining room table for several days before I even picked him up to begin. That alone is rather surprising.
I love this man’s way of laying down words. Yes, he writes within the Horror genre, but he also has a delicious sense of humor and insights into human reality that draw me in and I have a tendency to read his stories far more slowly than others because I simply savor what the man does. And the little notebook I keep with quotes in it, is pretty much half filled with pickings from that particular shelf in my library.
He didn’t disappoint this time either. Between pages 15 and 17, I found myself underlining three quotes that had particular meaning to me. I need to back up a bit here. Although I have never met the author, I do feel that he and I ride a very similar path of some sort. I find that somewhere in his books, I will come upon some statement about the place I am in, in the present moment. On the sidebar of this blog, there is an essay about just that, titled Another Example of Synchronicity. It was written at this same time of year, and in the same year that this present book was published. See what I mean?
However, I was immediately confronted with a problem when I started reading this current book. It set off quiet alarm bells in my psyche. I only read the brief first chapter and set it aside to go back to that other activity I am so intrigued by these days. Didn’t realize the reason, until it happened again the very next night. I wasn’t trading one activity for another, I was really bothered by what I was reading and choosing to avoid further contact. I really wasn’t liking the feelings that were arising inside of me as I tried to get into the story.
And that bothered me, no end. Even though I really liked the quotes I had found, I was seriously contemplating putting the book on that shelf in the library and not finishing it. Was that even possible? This is a Dean Koontz book, for heaven’s sake. I eat these things up like other’s consume chocolate. Damn it, what’s wrong with this picture?
So, yesterday I wrote about all of this in my journal. It was more than a bit troubling. I started by typing out the quotes and figuring out why I liked them so much, but was still willing to forego any further reading. As I continued to write, several things occurred to me. Things I should have seen, but didn’t. Things I was aware of but was also ignoring. Things like the very title of the book.
The Taking. From the very first page of this read, it is apparent that what is being taken is life itself. Not just life as we know it, but all life. In one of the first scenes within the read, the main character is confronted with a pack of coyotes that has taken shelter on her front porch. The scene is completely surreal, as she moves among them and, she and they act totally and completely out of character. All the normal rules of human and wild animal behavior have been suspended.
Coyotes are a symbol of the trickster energy. Often used in legend and storytelling to remind us that much of life is not understood and it is best not to take oneself too seriously in the business of living it each day. It is far better, and easier, to laugh at ones own antics and then get back up and get on with it. Yet, in the rush of the scene itself, I forgot that little, but very important, piece of knowledge. Koontz was giving me a clue and I missed it completely. And several more, if I’m to be honest.
Yesterday, as I wrote in my journal, I was seriously attempting to understand my very edgy feelings in a place where I normally find entertainment and even enlightenment. I did find some understanding but I forgot about Koontz’s sense of humor. Thus I forgot to laugh at my own antics. Laughter swiftly dispels both tension and fear and anxiety. I actually didn’t think about the meaning of the coyotes until I was here and already writing about all of this.
One of those quotes is extremely important to me. This is it:
Yet, when writing a novel, she often shunned prudence, trusting her instinct and her heart more than she did intellect. Without risk, she could get nothing on the page worth reading.
Obviously the main character is a writer, just as I am, and just as Mr. Koontz, beyond any shadow of a doubt, most certainly is. A writer trades on metaphor and symbolism. As I typed out the quote, I finally realized that it isn’t just the writer who must risk something to get a good story on the page. The reader must also take a risk in reading it. Each time I come to this blog, I take that risk. But each time I write, I ask you the reader, to take a risk in time and energy invested. Which means that I am constantly seeking to give some value in return for that risk and am disappointed when I fail to do so.
That in turn, doesn’t always allow me to find humor in what I am doing. I can tangle myself up in a lot of anxiety over all of this. And have actually done just that on more than one occasion. Today I am smiling. Once again, I have come here not knowing what I was going to write about. And once again, I have found something interesting to focus in on. And once again, I must thank Mr. Koontz for providing that material. He is a coyote of excellent proportion.
There is so much more I could write about this book, and perhaps I will at some future date. My edginess and foreboding have been dispelled by my own laughter at not seeing what was right in front of me, tangling myself up in needless knots, and letting all of that spoil one of my secret pleasures. Although the risk I took by writing about all of this was well worth the effort to my own person, I do apologize if it hasn’t been worthy of the risk you took in reading it.
When was the last time you suspended all the rules and became a coyote? It’s easy. All it takes is a bit of a risk.