Friday, May 19, 2006

Donatello was the better turtle

Advertising. I'm not immune to it. Especially foodstuffs. Throw a new burger on a billboard and I'm there. The Blair Witch Project? Motion sickness.

Grand Theft Auto? Holdin y0 'gat sideways does not a good game make. Also, the much hyped "matureness" of the series. Somehow partial nudity and pointless ultraviolence is a hallmark of being an adult. Hrm. Not that there's anything wrong with those things. It's just that it's all executed to appeal to a pre-teen gangbanger wannabe.

Which brings me to Dan Brown. Who I've managed to avoid curiosity in until the Hollywood hype machine ran me over. I fully admit 2 things: 1) I'm not a writer. I just write out whatever I'm thinking. It works for me, cause I ain't gettin paid to blog. 2) I haven't read a book in ages. So I flipped through the Da Vinci preview chapters on Amazon. Wow. Bad. Like really bad. Like I could write this bad bad.

Then I went and checked out the reviews. They were all solidly in the Dan Brown writes heresy / is a literary genius / Hardy Boys for adults camps. But he's sold millions! *sigh* Quantity doesn't always mean quality.

Brown has succeeded magnificently, he's created the book for people who don't read books. It's quick to read and the chapters are short giving the non-reader a sense of accomplishment. He makes you feel smart. Ooooo... anagrams. It reads like a screenplay which is great for Ron Howard and company. Then we hit the cliches. An albino antagonist? Heck. Give him an eyepatch, a scar, a goatee, a prosthetic arm, and maybe throw in a lisp.

There's no denying it. The prose is clunky.

1st paragraph:
Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum's Grand Gallery. He lunged for the nearest painting he could see, a Caravaggio. Grabbing the gilded frame, the seventy-six-year-old man heaved the masterpiece toward himself until it tore from the wall and Saunière collapsed backward in a heap beneath the canvas.

1st paragraph edited to leave room for imagination:
Jacques Saunière staggered through the archway of the Louvre's Grand Gallery; lunging for the Caravaggio. The painting tore from the wall trapping the curator underneath.

1st paragraph as I would have wrote it in grade 9:
Worldwide renowned uber curator Jacques Saunière staggered forth through the vaulted archway of the great museum's Grand Gallery. He lunged desperately for the nearest painting he could see with his own two eyes, a Caravaggio. Grabbing the ornately gilded frame, the seventy-six-year-old man of Francophone descent heaved the enormous masterpiece toward his stately personage until it tore from its supports anchored in the wall and Saunière the curator of the Louvre collapsed backward, not forwards, in a heap of poorly edited paperbacks beneath the canvas.

I'm not a literary elitist. I hate Shakespeare. A novel doesn't have to be complex to be enjoyable. But on the other end of the spectrum it shouldn't hold your hand. There's too much reliance on font and italics in the sample chapters I read. Heck, there's an illustrated edition. They should just go the next logical step - The Da Vinci Pop-up book.

I just judged a book by its Amazon. I guess I have something in common with the Catholic Church (motto: Don't believe in that other work of fiction.) now. Eeep.

By TVT - 5:39 p.m. |

This was a great post.

My former superfisor, Gordie, wrote ano0ther good book talking about how Umberto Eco did what Dan Brown was going for much better with Foccault's Pendulum. Here's the link.
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