Monday, September 21, 2009

The defective drum kit

I’ve been wary about discussing Dan Brown’s latest masterpiece, partly because I haven’t read it (although it sounds as if he just went through his last tome and replaced every instance of the word ‘Catholic’ with ‘Freemason’) but mainly because he really doesn’t need the publicity, which could go to more worthy authors such as my virtual chum Bête de Jour and my meatspace chum Nick Pegg (the 473rd edition of whose Bowie book is out any day now) and someone else whose name temporarily escapes me.

But I must point you towards this list of Brown’s most egregious crimes against the English language, which is funny in itself, and then gets quite glorious as DB’s admirers take up cudgels in defence of their idol. Observations along the lines of
Perhaps because this style (sometimes superfluous, sometimes over-dramatic, sometimes completely nonsensical) is simply a more fancy, brushed up version of how a lot of people think or speak?
may sound like the product of effete snobbery until we come across
American’s (like Mr. Brown) do not only have problems with grammatical sensibilities they also have issues with basic numerousy.
Fear not, though, Danny boy. You have a friend among your fellow authors. Unfortunately, it’s John Grisham, who really can’t see why everyone’s having a pop at you. I mean, after all,
Of course, I've read literature in the classic sense. We’ve all got those type of books on the shelves at home. They made me read them at school and I admit that I didn't like them much. I couldn’t understand why they were said to be so good.
PS: Michael Baigent, who admits to having a bit of a history with Brown, identifies what it is that annoys so many of us with Mr Da Vinci. It’s not so much the stupidity of his books as their delusions of cleverness:
It is as if Brown wants us to think that he is a great scholar rather than a deft hand at computer searching.


Anonymous said...

I commented on Andrew Collins' blog that Dan Brown is to literature as Arthur Mullard was to Ballet.

I said that his stories may be as gripping as a grippy thing, but if you can't get beyond his execrable writing, and therefore beyond the second paragraph, what's the bloody point?

Collins took me to task. He told me to enjoy the story for the work of fiction it is, and not to go through the book underlining every clumsy sentence and historical inaccuracy.

I gave Collins my my cast iron assurance that I had underlined nothing.

I just stopped reading and hung it on a nail in the outside privy.

Vicus Scurra said...

OK. You have forced me to admit it. I did read Mr Brown's Da Vinci Bollocks. I know it was Bollocks, because I read it. It is one of the worst books I have ever read. (I have never read anything by Archer).

There, I've admitted it. Please do not remind me about it any more.

Geoff said...

The way books are written is all important. I just tried a Virginia Andrews book (as I knew she was Princess Diana's favourite author) and thought she was deliberately writing like a 5 year old, for adults. Which I don't understand. I've now started a Lois Duncan book which is written for young adults but gripped me straight away. Has John Grisham never read a classic that was a bloody good page turner? There are plenty of them out there.

Well, one or two.

Richard said...

I'm no literary snob by any stretch but I don't want to buy or be seen reading anything by him or Archer or Grisham or Crichton etc. People might think I take package holidays or know who won Big Brother (actually I do know her but only because she lives round here and the local paper is the only one to have printed a picture of her without her tits hanging out). On the other hand, I have a bit of a weakness for decently written detective novels where the authors know, and work within, their limitations. The last American novel I tried to read was that pile of inpenetrable shite by Dave Eggers. Heartbreaking. Charity shop got it.

patroclus said...

Didn't your fab in-depth bloggy investigation come to the conclusion that Dan Brown is popular because he makes dim people feel clever and he makes clever people feel clever?

Annie said...

Life is far, far too short to read Dan Brown. Him and JK Rowling...

Anonymous said...

Annie is right. There's just no need to go there. Other people (like me) have suffered so you don't have to.

Brennig said...

There is another slant on that kindn of Dan Brown bashing:

n.b. I have never read a Dan Brown book. I just dislike snobbery.

Tim F said...

We should at least be grateful to Dan Brown for provoking debate about taste, elitism and so on.

[Also posted on Brennig's site] I'm afraid I disagree. The main purpose of the DT article is to identify why Brown's writing is bad. This may be inferred to be a dig at his readers, but surely any negative response to a work of art is implicitly saying that people who like it are in some way 'wrong'. If we worried too much about hurting peoples' feelings, we'd never feel free to express any critical opinions whatsoever.

The fact that Brown sells millions of books should provoke examination of differing criteria for successful writing, but they shouldn't prevent us from pointing out his faults.