52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

It took me years to write, will you take a look?

I'm now about 50 pages into the Da Vinci Code... and I'm thinking I should probably stop reading it. There are a couple of main reasons for this:

1) I have not been grabbed by the plot. I'm told that if you are not grabbed from the first page, you may as well not bother. At the moment I don't give a rat's arse who killed who or why.

2) Dan Brown's writing style is annoying me. He'd no doubt be flattered by the comparison, but I'm reacting to the way he writes in the same way as I react when I read Salman Rushdie. When I read Rushdie, it always irks me that the smug voice of the author is always far louder than the voices of any of his characters. For me, Brown is the same - except that his lumpen text has not so far shown a single trace of Rushdie's redeeming ability to write absolutely beautiful, floating prose. Here is an author who has read a couple of books on the Louvre and on minor Christian sects and is determined to browbeat his reader into mistaking him for someone with a genuine in-depth knowledge of the things he is writing about.

I'm not fooled.

I am less than impressed with the writing too. In the first paragraph - in fact in the first words of the book - we are introduced to a "renowned curator". He's not just a curator; he's a renowned curator. I know you have to cut an author a certain amount of slack and allow him some shorthand to allow his plot to move... but in the first two words? There's more: we are told that The Jardins de Tuileries "literally inspired the birth of the Impressionist movement". Really? Do you know what "literally" means, Dan Brown? He's also extremely rude and high-handed in his attitude to the French and to France, "a country reknowned for machismo, womanizing and diminutive insecure leaders like Napoleon and Pepin the Short".

I could go on, but I've only read 50 pages, and I wouldn't want to pre-judge....

I'm going to give it to the end of the weekend, and if the plot hasn't got interesting enough to drown out all this other stuff, I'm going to stop reading it.

Life's too short and I've got comics to read.


  • At 12:46 pm, Blogger Del said…

    I have to be frank, I've not read it due to being bloody minded. And the non-plussed reviews from my friends haven't really encouraged me either.

    I'll wait for the movie. The delightful Audrey Tautou makes almost anything watchable. And I've heard that Hanks bloke can act a bit. Still won't be as good as Big though, will it?

  • At 12:50 pm, Blogger Ali said…

    I read it in May 2004. Here's what I thought of it:
    (In the words of our dear friend: 'Not a lot')

  • At 12:51 pm, Blogger Mark said…

    If you haven't read Dan Brown where have you been?

    He's a sloppy Airport Writer, the McDonalds of authors, with no talent, little ability, and no originality.

    And there is NO SUCH FUCKING WORD as "Reknowned."

    "Renowned", yes, that's a fucking word. "Reknowned", No. It's utterly meaningless.

    And plots with murders in generally are quite lazy - a murder is the most obvious, lazy plot there is. Whodunit? Whocares more like.

  • At 1:53 pm, Blogger swisslet said…

    ah - to be fair to Mr Brown, the typo is all mine. 'Renowned' it is then.


    (oh, and be warned - spoilers in Yoko's review, so I won't read it unless I give up on the book or finish it)

  • At 2:12 pm, Blogger Lazygal said…

    Check out these comments: http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001628.html (for more, go to MAIN and search for "Dan Brown"). Basically, this guy sums up what you've written, what I thought, and a whole lot of things that I would have thought if I wasn't so annoyed with the writing.

  • At 4:41 pm, Blogger Robin said…

    I first heard of the theories behind the DaVinci Code almost 20 years ago, when the authors of "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" were interviewed on late-night radio. Quite separate from Dan Brown, the whole thing is quite fascinating, if that's what you're into.

    What Brown's done is read that book and weave a mundane whodunnit around them.

  • At 5:26 pm, Blogger Stef said…

    My mum was well into Holy Blood Holy Grail back when I was at school.

    Dan Brown has just made a pot-boiler out of it. Big fucking deal.

    I'll go and watch Audrey Tautou though. Sorry, I mean I'll go and watch the movie. ;-)

  • At 7:45 pm, Blogger bytheseashore said…

    Congratulations; you've beaten me by 49 and a half pages.

  • At 11:30 pm, Blogger Pynchon said…

    Oooh... Very harsh words. I've not read any Dan Brown, so I cannot comment, but I will say that my good lady has loved all of his books.

    It'll be a couple of years before I read "The Da Vinci Code". I don't want to make any comparison with the movie. I finished "L.A. Confidential" a week before I saw the movie and I thought the movie was terrible. It was a good couple of years before I saw the film again and recognised it for the genius adaptation that it was.

  • At 5:31 am, Blogger HistoryGeek said…

    I enjoyed the book...but it is mostly brain candy. It's not hard fact (it doesn't hold a candle to the fun of reading the unraveling in Holy Blood Holy Grail), nor is it great writing. But I still enjoyed the book.

  • At 6:03 am, Blogger Hyde said…

    Swiss-- you're a historian. No doubt you were offended. As was I. It's such shoddy "history" that it doesn't even merit a real rebuttal. That said, it was a quick read, and I think the plot will translate into a great movie.


  • At 9:20 am, Blogger Mark said…

    Established Blogger Mark Reedwrote furiously in his home on a Bank Holiday Monday. He heard a distinct sucking noise of air from his chest, knowing that his time was running out from the bullet wound. A world famous author aimed his laser sight rifle and pulled the trigger a second, third, fourth time.

  • At 4:25 pm, Blogger Mandy said…

    I enjoyed it. I read it when I was unemployed (and therefore somewhat depressed) and needed something to pass the time. I agree with spinsterwitch - it's brain candy. Fun to read, fun to think about, but you don't really have to think hard about it... perfect for my summer of unemployment! I do agree, however, that he isn't such a great writer.

  • At 6:24 pm, Blogger the urban fox said…

    Thought I might have a gander at the film if it's been a long day and nobody can come up with a better idea, but life's too short for leaden prose.

    My word verification is "nshit", appropriately.

  • At 7:26 pm, Blogger Flash said…

    Well call me a undereducated phillistine but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I actually liked one of his other books even more.
    Takes all sorts, eh?


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