Communicator (communicator) wrote,

On why I hate Dan Brown against my own principles

Because of his new book coming out I have been talking to a few people, and reading online, about Dan Brown. In general I sympathise with the point of view that we should be tolerant, that popular books promote reading to a wider group, that we shouldn't be ashamed of what we enjoy (eg Harry Potter), that a naive untutored style can be oddly powerful, that breaking the rules of writing extends the power of language etc. If a friend loves a book, what could be more snobby and unfriendly than sneering at it?

But all of this goes out the window with Dan Brown. I just can't get over how bad he is. I lose all the principles I just wrote there. It sets me off. One of my best friends said she liked Da Vinci Code and I just was silenced. I know the sort of things I should say, but I couldn't.

Here's just the sort of thing that normally gets my goat. The Daily Telegraph, only one step up from the Mail, presents 'The 20 worst sentences in Dan Brown'. It's a pretty bad article (they aren't all sentences, the #1 choice is idiotic, the telegraph aren't All That).

But, blow me down, this is some hellish bad writing.
Only those with a keen eye would notice his 14-karat gold bishop's ring with purple amethyst, large diamonds, and hand-tooled mitre-crozier appliqué.

'a keen eye indeed'
Five months ago, the kaleidoscope of power had been shaken, and Aringarosa was still reeling from the blow.

I tell you why I think it's bad - because the writing is bad, you can only map the words onto thoughts if you make your thoughts foggy. You either have to half-ignore what you are reading, like trying to ignore horrible music in a shop, or if you read with attention, you end up getting bogged down. That second example sentence. Aringarosa? A pocket full of posa? Hit on the head with a kaleidoscope? Mummy what time is it?
Overhanging her precarious body was a jaundiced face whose skin resembled a sheet of parchment paper punctured by two emotionless eyes.

The Telegraph comment that 'It’s not clear what Brown thinks precarious means here.' Or what the reader is supposed to imagine as they read the words. It gives me the feeling you get when you're tired and you can't concentrate on anything.

metafilter discussion here.
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