“Not every coincidence…has meaning. Toss a quarter one million times, roughly half a million heads will turn up, roughly the same number of tails. In the process, there will be instances when heads turn up thirty, forty, a hundred times in a row. This does not mean that destiny is at work or that God—choosing to be not merely his usual mysterious self but utterly inscrutable—is warning of Armageddon through the medium of the quarter; it means the laws of probability hold true only in the long run, and that short-run anomalies are meaningful solely to the gullible.”
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--From the Corner of His Eye.
From the Corner of His Eye is one of Dean Koontz’ most original and insightful efforts which manages to seduce the reader into a realm where souls can be redeemed and trees become majestic metaphors for life. Koontz’ most recent presentation should not disappoint the Science Fiction Literati so dedicated to his well-crafted tales.
Koontz manipulates the story of a central core of unique and realistic characters, wherein their lives intersect and influence all of the events developing throughout the novel. The reader is introduced to Bartholomew Lampion, born to his caring and widowed mother, Agnes. Barty’s exceptional skills and intelligence are manifested at an early age, which is reflected in the adult-style dialogue he engages in at the mere age of three. Barty, with his magnificent eyes and keen intellect is able to convey to Agnes that he can see possibilities in life to which most are not privy. Our very human question “what if this happened instead?” is addressed by this prodigy, and his calm explanation becomes a bridge between religious faith and scientific theory about quantum mechanics. Events unfold in the novel that tantalize the reader and create suspense; we wonder what if Barty’s father had survived his fatal accident? What if their father had not abused Agnes’ brothers, Edom and Jacob for so many years? What would be the new outcome if the “what ifs” were, in fact, the reality? Barty is secure in the fact that he can see more than one reality, even after losing the use of his unusual eyes.
*The Nature of Coincidence*
Do events or circumstances occur by accident? Koontz speculates on coincidence when he narrates around his most interesting character in the novel, Enoch “Junior” Cain. A narcissistic and ruthless man, Junior murders his spouse for no other reason than for the sake of doing it. Suffering unusual symptoms after every crime, Cain is reminiscent of his Biblical counterpart as anger and suspicion fuel him. Junior Cain, a violent rape, the death of Barty’s father and the premature death of Seraphim White collide in may seem to be coincidental circumstances. Faithful readers of Koontz know certainly that there are no coincidences in his literary worlds. Interestingly, Koontz’ characters are actively living the “ripple effect” which is the notion all actions in the universe have a reaction, or consequence. Similar to a stone skipped in a pond, the ripples begin and may reverberate to the shoreline. A sermon by Seraphim’s Father (a Baptist preacher) reverberates wider than imaginable in this story, ultimately leading the group of characters to a frightful showdown.
*From the Corner of His Eye*
This is one of Koontz’ better presentations—he manages to explore the nuances of faith and science in 622 pages. I enjoyed the Biblical undertones, as addressed through the character names; for example, Bartholomew was one of Jesus’ lesser known disciples; Cain committed the first human murder; Paul (a family friend) also an apostle and later a martyr; Angel—Seraphim’s daughter; Mary, Angel’s daughter and Jesus’ mother. Enoch and Jacob, Barty’s Uncles, relay apocalyptic statistics about human crimes and natural disasters. The theme of faith is clear here—with absolute faith, fear is present but able to be controlled. Individuals such as Cain, who are devoid of faith and a human conscience manage to fill their emptiness with fear and rage.
Barty’s dialogue with Agnes before undergoing eye surgery is one of the more touching sections of the novel. Barty asks his mother, “Is God watching?” to which Agnes replies, “Yes. Always.” The conversation continues with Barty confessing “It seems like He isn’t listening” and Agnes’ reply, “Well with so much on His shoulders, He can’t always watch us directly, you know, with His fullest attention every minute, but He’s always at least watching from the corner of His eye.” This exchange between mother and son is very beautiful in its’ simplicity and the sense of security Agnes conveys to her ill son is evident.
Weaving Science Fiction, daring escapes and surreal circumstances, Koontz is able to create an engaging, philosophical story that challenges the nature of reality, reflects on the power of family dynamics, and examines the essence of human nature. From The Corner Of His Eye, for both the loyal fan and the Koontz newcomer, will prove to be another coveted hardcover in a reader’s collection.
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