Saturday, October 10, 2009

At last ... something worth reading from Dan Brown

Well, not quite: more, about Dan Brown.

All-comers should try Maureen Dowd's beautifully arch and barbed review of The Lost Symbol. It is a bit of revisiting, for Janet Maslin also did a cracker, no prisoners taken, for the New York Times, a month back:
Mr. Brown’s splendid ability to concoct 64-square grids outweighs what might otherwise be authorial shortcomings. Within this book’s hermetically sealed universe, characters’ motivations don’t really have to make sense; they just have to generate the nonstop momentum that makes The Lost Symbol impossible to put down. So Mal’akh’s story is best not dissected beyond the facts that he is bad, self-tattooed, self-castrated and not Langdon’s friend.

Also, the author uses so many italics that even brilliant experts wind up sounding like teenage girls. And Mr. Brown would face an interesting creative challenge if the phrases “What the hell ...?,” “Who the hell ... ?” and “Why the hell ... ?” were made unavailable to him. The surprises here are so fast and furious that those phrases get quite the workout.

Then again, Mr. Brown’s excitable, hyperbolic tone is one the guilty pleasures of his books. ( ‘Actually, Katherine, it’s not gibberish.’ His eyes brightened again with the thrill of discovery. ‘It’s ... Latin.’)
Then, in this week's New York Times Books section, or on line, along comes Mo with her acerbic re-take.

Your starter for ten (or more) good belly-laughs starts here:

The new Dan Brown puzzler is the scariest one yet.

It’s not so much the barbarous machinations of the villain, another one-dimensional, self-mortifying hulk, that sends chills down your spine. Or the plot, which is an Oedipal MacGuffin.

No, the terrifying thing about The Lost Symbol is that Brown — who did not flinch when the Vatican both condemned The Da Vinci Code and curtailed the filming of Angels & Demons in Rome — clearly got spooked by that other powerful, secretive ancient sect, the Masons.
Ah, yes: the Vatican!

On a diffferent note, Malcolm was taken by the spokesperson for the Birmingham Museum's exhibition of the Staffordshire Hoard. They only realised the interest unleashed by the find, he said, when they had a 'phone-call from ... the Vatican. Sphere: Related Content

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