Monday, January 22, 2007

Chapter 10

There, I almost said something nice about the way Brown plays with the notion of codes in the previous chapter, setting up Sophie as both codebreaker and codemaker. But then he has to go and overreach himself.

"Silas fought that familiar undertow..." If you're going to introduce a flashback, there are more elegant ways to do it than the prose equivalent of a harp glissando and making the screen go all wavy. However, when we get there, he does a neat job in fleshing out Silas's back story, making him less of a monster (Dr Frankenstein, we presume?) as well as slipping in a neat Biblical analogy. He beats up women and sailors, but deep down he just needs love. Aringarosa's concern for Silas is nicely ambiguous: he clearly cares, but is he just setting up the albino for a different kind of abuse?

Incidentally, does anyone know if the correct mode of address for a Catholic bishop is "Bishop", rather than "Your Grace" or the like? And if the Catholic Church feels entitled to get huffy about TDVC, Andorra should be able to declare war on the United States. "Barren and forsaken suzerainty..." I've been there. It's quite nice.


Blogger Billy said...

I quite liked the Silas bibical analogy bit, best bit so far.

12:56 pm  
Blogger Joel said...

What's happening to you, Tim? Are you falling under some kind of DVC-related mental malady? The Brown Plague... Still, we're only on Chapter 10. There's more than enough time for you to start hating it again...

3:58 pm  
Blogger Tim Footman said...

I dunno. When I slag it off, I face opposition from people who think we should be uncovering how and why it works, and why it's so popular. When I do that, I'm accused of losing my Elgins. You wonder why I've been so slack about this blog?

And I agree, Billy, although it summoned up unpleasant memories of a panic attack I suffered during RE A-level.

10:24 am  
Blogger Mangonel said...

Hi - I'm back. Couldn't do my homework, my computer broke.

OK. One thing that keeps you turning the pages is the current two stranded narrative, both compelling, with a cliff-hanger at the end of every chapter that isn't resolved in the next.

I thought the end of chapter 9 was cracking - and it tells us quite a lot about Sophie without DB's customary bludgeon. She demonstrates access to secret information, by knowing that Langdon is in danger, and a nimble mind to work the telephone message trick. And she therefore is at least as powerful as the mysterious Teacher, who also knows secret stuff and farts about with phones.

The depiction of office sexism is casual and hackneyed, but the line I really did like was 'Sophie Neveu was one of the DCPJ's biggest mistakes'. Instantly you know that Sophie is a major good guy, and Fache is at best an ignorant fool, at worst a major baddie.

It's DB's reliance on formulaic cliche (is that tautologous?) that helps the story along, and is what makes it easy to read. He uses this literary shorthand to free the reader to concentrate on the narrative. I AM NOT SAYING THIS IS A MERITORIOUS THING!

Ooh - and talking of biblical analogies, presumably we have all known ever since the word 'keystone' was introduced, that the secret will be a person, not a thing?

And dunno what the correct form of address for a Roman Catholic bish. is, but the way it was used sounded quite dismissive to me, and therefore neatly defined the relationship between Aringarosa and the Teacher.

11:59 pm  
Blogger Joel said...

Your Bishness?
Tim, I understand that a sustained analysis like this, especially one without a clear, essay-question style objective, is always going to be on the knife-edge between mockery and acknowledging the good elements. But sod it, you're a tremendously entertaining fellow and so far this has been totally worthwhile. Walk on, walk on...

11:14 am  
Blogger Spinsterella said...

I have tried to blank out most of my childhood catholicism, but I think you're right about the bishop thing.

Just sayign bishop is akin to addressin someone as 'Mr' without using their surname.

You did RE A-level? THat doesn't count, surely?

3:35 pm  

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