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???"


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