Pages into the latest Dean Koontz, I was reminded of the Red Hot Chili Peppers song, “City of Angels.” It chronicles the exploration by the singer as he struggles within Los Angeles, to understand himself and realize his potential with the anthropomorphic City by his side.
“Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a partner
Sometimes I feel like my only friend
It’s the city I live in, the City of Angels
Lonely as I am, together we cry
“I drive on her streets ’cause she’s my companion
I walk through her hills cause she knows who I am
She sees my good deeds and she kisses me windy
I never worry, now that is a lie.”
Our narrator is Jonah Kirk, who tells the story as an older man, of his early developmental years in a city impacted by the effects of Vietnam, and jazz, and the Civil Rights movement. Kirk’s parents have problems, and his father becomes a fleeting, in and out again, influence on his young life, while his grandparents’ influence increases. Still, in Koontz’s eyes, it takes a village (or at least an apartment building) to raise a child, and the book becomes peppered by the people who Kirk meets in and around his homes.
Because this is Dean Koontz, we know it’s going to be a little … different. And that’s where the City personified comes in, as a beautiful woman who appears in Kirk’s life, “blessing” him and guaranteeing that he’s empowered to make a difference. It does take awhile for the narrative to get where it’s going, but if you’re a Koontz fan, it’s worth the wait. Nuanced, tense, scary and beautiful, the emotional payoff is strong, as we see who Kirk is supposed to be and what he’s been intended for all along.
After reading the book, I’m left wondering: do I recognize how the “city speaks”? Do I know what I’m here for? What do I take pointers or direction from? How can I know who I’m supposed to be? For me, it’s about prayer and reading the Bible, but there’s also that holy nudge, that voice that speaks, directs, and moves, the Holy Spirit. For Jonah Kirk, the Spirit speaks as the City.