Books 25 Mar 2007 09:07 am

Perfectly purple prose

Forever Odd

“Forever Odd” is the second entry in bestselling author Dean Koontz’s series about 21-year-old Odd Thomas, who can see and communicate with the dead.

If that sounds a lot like the premise behind “The Sixth Sense,” it is, but that’s where the similarity ends. Odd, who narrates each novel, exhibits a charmingly droll sense of humor and a working stiff’s attitude toward his gift. His day job is a fry cook at a small diner, although he’s on a leave of absence following events in the first novel.

“Forever Odd” offers a truly evil villain who may or may not be the human incarnation of the death goddess Kali, two suitably threatening henchmen, a crawl through underground water pipes that would make Victor Hugo proud, and a wonderfully twisted extended set piece in the burned-out husk of a casino.

The book isn’t nearly as good as “Odd Thomas,” the first novel in the series, but it’s still more than good enough for what it is: A modern day recreation of a pulp adventure.

Pulps, for those who have never experienced them, were magazines that had their hayday in the 1920s and 1930s. They were basically men’s adventure magazines filled with colorful heroes like The Shadow and Doc Savage and a colorful assortment of suitably nefarious bad guys — gangsters, sorcerors, and sinister Asians bent on world domination.

Because they were published monthly and writers earned a dreadful half-cent or penny per word, pulps were not (usually) repositories of the most carefully thought-out prose, but were instead filled with colorful adjectives and breathless sentences. Kind of like the ones in this review, come to think of it.

“Forever Odd” reminds me of the pulps both in its choice of plot and its breakneck pace. Koontz is a far better writer, however, and readers benefit from Odd’s skewed observations about life, even as he’s dangling from one precipice or another.

I liked “Forever Odd.” Next up, the latest entry in the series, “Brother Odd.”

2 Responses to “Perfectly purple prose”

  1. on 10 May 2007 at 1.Scott Edwards said …

    I know this is an old column but I thought I might update a few statements regarding Pulp magazines. While it is true that they were mostly aimed at Men in the beginning, by the 1930’s there were a varity of Pulps for Woman; Love Stories, Ranch Romances etc. Also,many of the Hero & Science Fiction pulps were mostly marketed to teen boys..As to frequency, some were monthly, some were weekly or bi-weekly etc. Whatever the market would bear, the magazine & writers poured out. Many authors wrote 10 or more stories a week just to eek out a lowly living. Certainly there was a lot of dreck put out, but many famous authors, Tenessee Williams, H.P. Lovecraft, John D. MacDonald,to name a few, cut their cut in the pulps. It was a very creative market for fiction & sorely missed today by the many fans of pulp fiction.
    Enough boredom,I commend you for even being aware of Pulp magazines & their influence on Literature. Kudos to Koontz (who is too young to have written for the pulps, but did start his career in the Digest SF magazines)for the fun.
    Keep on plugging away with your entertaining blog.If you had been born 70 years earlier you would have been a shoe-in for the staff of Spicy Mysteries!
    Best wishes
    Scott (yellowed & brittle like pulp paper)

  2. on 12 May 2007 at 2.» All things pulpy (except orange juice) said …

    [...] month or so ago, I wrote a quick review of “Forever Odd” by Dean Koontz, a fast-moving novel that I likened to a vintage pulp magazine along the lines of Doc Savage or The [...]

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