Harlan Coben is uncovering the myths of America
By Derryll White
Reviewers like to hang tethers on writers. The latest I am aware of is calling Harlan Coben “a folk poet of the suburbs.” Okay, but I don’t really think so. Coben’s edge is too sharp for poetry.
Michael Ondaatje entered some rough territory with ‘The Collected Works of Billy the Kid’ and ‘There’s a trick with a knife I’m learning to do,’ but they don’t hold a candle to Coben’s darkness. He is the only American suspense writer I read that gets close to the darkness of the Scandinavian mystery authors.
Coben’s internal dialogue between Napoleon “Nap” Dumas and his dead twin brother Leo makes the reader’s neck hairs stand straight out. You know – chilling, foreboding, tremendously fearful. At the same time, these dialogues present incidents and understandings that previously were the private right of twins. How does Harlan Coben know? Perhaps it is just another sign of what a consummate storyteller he really is. I say “storyteller” because although Coben is a very accomplished writer, he is a gifted and inspired teller of stories. He is uncovering the myths of America.
Excerpts from the novel”
CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE – The law offices of Elbe, Baroche and Fraser are located in a nondescript glass high-rise among a series of nondescript glass high-rises in a development I assume is being satirically labelled “Country Club Complex.” I park in a lot slightly larger than a European principality….”
LIBRARIES – I still love libraries. I love the hybrid quality, the new computer sections and the books yellowing with age. Libraries for me have always had a cathedral-like ambiance, a hushed sanctuary where learning is revered, where we the people elevate books and education to the level of the religious.
GRIEF – Some claim that the first step in the grieving process is denial. Having delivered my share of life-shattering news, I have found the opposite to be true. The first step is complete and immediate comprehension. You hear the news and immediately you realize how absolutely devastating it is, how there will be no reprieve, how death is final, how your world is shattered and that you will never ever be the same. You realize all that in seconds, no more.
– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them. When not reading he writes history for the web at www.basininstitute.org.