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Perspective

The Art of Creation An Interview With Dean Koontz

        "No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money."—Samuel Johnson

G.K. Chesterton was an avid reader of popular fiction, particularly the so-called "penny dreadfuls," whose everyday morality and concentration on plot and character made them more wholesome reading than the pretentious productions of modernist literature. Chesterton's prejudice is shared today by millions of readers who would not beat Donald Barthelme or Norman Mailer with a stick but cannot board an airplane or go to the beach without an 800-page thriller by Dean Koontz or Stephen King. Mr. Koontz's "paranoid style" of fiction has become increasingly attractive to Americans who have begun to suspect that there is more to government than an honest desire to serve the people. Not coincidentally, he is a Chronicles reader.

I drove away from John Wayne Airport in my rental car and turned onto MacArthur Boulevard. The signs for Irvine, Newport Beach, and Fashion Island are sinister reminders of government projects that engineer monsters and of agents who kill the citizens in order to spare them the unhappiness of ordinary life, but the sun is shining, and the late-November air is warmer in Southern California than in Illinois. Mr. Koontz and dog Trixie greet me at the door, and the two of us—Trixie remains at home—go out to lunch at a good hotel. Drinking a robust but mellow cabernet...

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