Sep 16, 2009

Da Vinci Code

Speaking of books that came out yesterday, apparently there's some more Dan Brown in the world now. Why the world needs more of his writing...well...the world knows more about these things than I do.

Conveniently, I just read the Da Vinci Code last week. Totally by chance, in fact. I am clearly in tune with the universe. I'm going to give it some extra points off the top because I'd already seen the movie so I can't say what it must have been like to read it when the element of surprise still existed. Maybe it was better?

And...I don't get it. Why is this so popular? It's not tremendously interesting or exciting, it's got lots of history and no sex, and the writing is very, very middling. I mean, it's not that bad. I'm not going to dump on it--it's competent, it puts words in orders that communicate things. Which, as an editor, I can promise you is harder for most people than it sounds.

It is total crap with adjectives, definitely. How do you "wake up slowly"? How do you take a "long sip"? What does it look like when somebody is walking with "a haunting certainty to her gait"?

It also leans heavily on one of my favorite pet peeves - informing the audience that something is interesting by having a character directly tell them so by word or action. To whit:

"With an unexpected jolt, Langdon stopped short."
'And not just any person,' Teabing blurted, clambering excitedly to his feet.

And my personal favorite, all of the following are from one conversation. One.

"Sophie felt a little chill...Sophie was surprised....Sophie glanced at the art book before her, eager to move on....Uncertain, Sophie closed her eyes...Sophie glanced up, looking surprised...Sophie shook her head...Sophie looked overwhelmed...Sophie felt as if the entire night had turned into some kind of twilight zone where nothing was as she expected...Sophie was sure she had missed something...Sophie turned to Langdon to help...Sophie was mesmerized...Sophie was amazed...Again, Sophie was speechless...Sophie was starting to feel overwhelmed...Sophie was surprised...The words seemed to echo across the ballroom and back before they fully registered in Sophie's mind...Sophie stood transfixed...Sophie felt the hairs stand up on her arms..."

Soooo, yeah. Mostly readable, kind of fun, a good way to feel highbrow and still read trashy writing. I guess. I'm sure there must be better ways.


Emilie said...

I read it a really long time ago and I remember finding it pretty addictive. I liked how the narration had a constant trickle of really interesting facts about Jesus and stuff and how he had a wife and women really rule the world, etc. Which is maybe why it's so popular because the book kind of flips your idea of Christianity around. I really wanted the dude to hook up with Sophie :(

Erin said...

See, that's exactly what I was thinking - if you read it before seeing the movie, all the religious stuff would probably be way more interesting!

The book's all based on these revelations, and once you've had them, it loses its kapow.

hamilcar barca said...

nothing highbrow about The Da Vinci Code. the story is very good, although i liked Deception Point better.

i agree the writing is weak. the religious stuff is just recycled Gnosticism. interesting if you've never heard it before. judging from the knee-jerk reaction of the church, his "preaching" must be considered persuasive.

personally, i thought it was way too preachy. Brown could've kept the "theological discussions" out, and saved 75 pages worth of trees per book.

Mark Loeffleholz said...

I'm probably the last person on the hemisphere who hasn't read the book OR seen the film, yet. I own the book, and plan to read it first...but I have to admit, I read part of the first chapter, a couple of years ago, and it didn't grab me. It's crept up near the top of my list, but I'll have to set a John D. MacDonald 'Travis McGee' novel---or a Patrick O'Brian 'Aubrey/Maturin' adventure---aside to do so...'Da Vinci' might have to wait...

Dan Brown seems to be proof that you can 'get over' if you've got an effective gimmick, or 'hook'...