Saturday, December 22, 2007

Back, but not for long

I can't imagine that anyone will read this, although maybe one or two long-dormant RSS feeds will leap into life, but anyway, I just need to record something that I've only just discovered:

The Louvre Pyramid does not contain precisely 666 panes of glass.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Loin swaddle blues

Regular readers, if there are any left, will have noticed that I've been more than a little slack when it comes to updating this blog. The truth is, I feel as if I'm repeating myself. I worked out many chapters ago that the original mystery that compelled me to start it (why such a bad writer is so successful) was just a red herring. In a post-literate society, people simply don't care. The paper-thin characterisation is neither here nor there. As long as the punters can identify with the putative hero, Langdon, everything's groovy. The fact that he has to be presented as the dimmest person ever to achieve tenure at an Ivy League institution is unfortunate, but if that's what you need to sell in the millions, so be it.

What I do admire, albeit grudgingly, is Brown's ability to give the illusion of speed and action, by slicing the plot into tiny fragments, and cramming in so many details that the reader's head spins. Were he a better writer, comparisons with Nicholson Baker might be in order. The fact that he's not, but sells far more than Baker ever will, is a sad reflection of the cultural marketplace, but hardly Brown's fault.

Anyway. I feel a bit sheepish that I haven't even made it to the halfway mark, but I think my job is pretty much done. Like Jade Goody at the London marathon, I didn't quite realise what an effort it would be.

Oh, and if you'll just allow me the luxury of a BIG PLOT SPOILER









It's the Pyramid.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Chapter 46

Poor Silas. While the others are having all manner of excitement in the back of a truck, he's lying on the floor, caked in his own blood and a distinct sense of failure.

Although Brown is characterised as being an enemy of Catholicism in general, and Opus Dei in particular, he's got a pretty good grasp of the attraction that extreme manifestations of faith hold for the bungled and botched of society. Bezu Fache's faith is neatly compartmentalised alongside his work and his grumpiness; but for Silas, it's all he's got.

Pity he's a psychopath, then, isn't it?

Ooh dear, sounds like Vernet might be a wrong 'un. Should have spotted it from the Fragonard. Probably wears silk underwear as well.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Chapter 45

And now we discover why Brown was so obsessed with Vernet's immaculate appearance. For reasons as yet unknown, he needs to smuggle our heroes out of the bank vault, and thus has to pretend to be a horrid, working-class truck driver who speaks "crude French", and we marvel at the transformation. But he forgets to take off his Rolex. Twat. Never mind, Collet's a bigger twat, and can't tell the difference between the real thing and a knock-off.

But Vernet pulls it off, and then wonders what the hell to do next.

I see his problem.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Chapter 44

We're not half way through the book, and the author is already recycling his jokes. We've already had the Fibonacci thing, and now we need to resuscitate it, at great length, just to fill the interminable space. And then there's something heavy and mysterious and full of liquid in the box.

Is it Dan Brown's head?

Cheer up, a couple of chapters on and we're back with Silas.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Chapter 43

According to received literary wisdom, it was Ian Fleming who created 'brand porn'; essentially, using high-end brand names to create a frisson of sophistication within his prose. For a few delirious moments, it seemed as if Bret Easton Ellis destroyed the gimmick in American Psycho, when Bateman's encyclopaedic name-dropping of Gucci et al was used to reflect the essential emptiness of the protagonist's life.

It still lives on, of course, especially in the realms of aspirational chick-lit. Brown isn't a major culprit, although he does sprinkle a little onto the description of Vernet, the bank president. Oddly - considering DB seems to be at pains to spell everything out for the benefit of the dim kid at the back of the class - he doesn't explain that Fragonard and Boucher are 18th-century Rococo painters. In fact, he doesn't explain they're painters at all. But it's clear they encapsulate something exclusive and expensive, to go with the silk suit and the rare Bordeaux.

Clearly, though, Vernet is more than just another posh, gay (?) banker, and he knows more than he's letting on. But the sense of mystery is drowned out by the sound of the reader screaming at Langdon and Sophie, "TEN-DIGIT NUMBER??? DUH??? REMEMBER THE CRIME SCENE???"

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Chapter 42

We're back in Nicholson Baker territory, as Brown pads out the text by describing the decor of a Swiss bank in minute detail. The difference is that Baker does this sort of thing to point out those details of familiar objects and situations that normally pass us by. Brown does it to adorn his books with a veneer of learning and information. And to show that he's on nodding terms with Swiss bellhops. (Incidentally, what happens if the guest speaks neither English nor French?)

But watch out guys! Fache and Collet, les flics de Keystone, are on your trail...