Wed 26 Nov, 2003 07:25 pm
I have just finished reading Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code. Since nobody is likely to ask me my opinion, here it is:
I loved this book.
It is one of the most madcap, fast-paced pieces of purely comic suspense writing I have encountered in a long time. It moves with all the jerky speed and pace of a Keystone Kops chase movie. Mack Sennett would hace loved it. Charlie Chaplin, too. And Brown has developed the cliff-hanger technique for chapter endings into a fine art. This "Perils of Pauline" gimmick turns the volume into an irresistable page turner. I was almost half way through before I even realized that what I was reading was nothing more, in essence, than a really wild description of a really wild scavenger hunt. Anagarams, cryptograms, hidden writing which needs a black light to decipher -- the whole works.
I am, however, totally mystified by people who perceive a true "message" here, who fail to recognize the pseudo-historical, pseudo-theological premises offered here as so much pure slapstick claptrap. Brown even gives us broad hints that his tongue is lodged firmly in his cheek on a number occasions, as, for example, when he has the protagonist suggest -- with a straight face! -- that Walt Disney cartoons such as Fantasia and The Little Mermaid are rife with Holy Grail messages and hints. I cracked up at that one. Another wonderful hint that he is being less than serious comes when Langdon, the protagonist, makes much of a coded message having been written in iambic pentameter. He sees a pentagrammatic hint here, ignoring the fact that iambic pentameter is the most natural meter for anyone writing poetry in the English language. And, btw, has anyone else ever heard it suggested that William Shakespeare was a Mason?
And the climax and revelation of the identity of the villian of the story is a delicious sendup of the type of surprises that once were the mainstay of the likes of John Dixon Carr and Agatha Christie at her best. Unexpected and -- in rational hindsight -- highly unlikely, if not impossible. I was going to say something more here and also make a comment about the denoument, but I don't want to give the whole plot away to those who have yet to read this delightful farce.
I welcome the comments of any who have also had the good fortune to be entertained by Mr. Brown's work. Or, from anyone else, for that matter.
Oh! This is really timely!
It's been brought up for my book club, and I've been resistant. This changes my mind.
Will have read it by the end of January, looks like.
I found the novel mildly entertaining, fast-moving for sure, but the whole thing seemed contrived -- almost like a made for tv movie in the works.
A good book to read if you're stuck on a plane for a couple of hours.
I liked it too Merry Andrew - and I went into it expecting to poo-poo it off.
This time of year I stick to light reading since I'm so insanely busy at work. This book was perfect. Captivating but not cumbersome.
It's out on loan to friends right now and they are liking it too.
Gus -- of course it's contrived! That's the whole point of it -- one absurdity laid on top of another. The squares don't get it. They can't see that Brown is pulling their leg.
OK, so looks like I have to keep my expectations low (they were) so I can then be surprised by how good it was. I think I can handle that.
Soz -- read it. I'm sure you'll like it once you realize what the author is really doing.
Hi, Boomer. Glad you enjoyed the book. Know what you mean about being short on time. Took me over a week to finish something that's essentially a weekend book to relaz with.
It's late and I'm tired but here's my post from another thread:
This is great BBB! Thanks. I just finished The DaVinci Code the other day and have been waiting to hear some discussion on this.
The book is a run of the mill good/guy bad guy chase thriller, but the historical theory and art history are fascinating. It's a fun read.
It may seem like a crackpot theory to some, but to me makes a lot more sense than the accepted story.
anyway. the theory is no more far out than what the bible says. More believable to me acutually.
fealola, thanks for posting. I strongly suspect that Mr. Brown himself doesn't much believe in his theory. Makes for a good yarn, that's all.
I agree. But which theory is more believable. I say the conspiracy theory he speaks of is.
Merry, I'd like to tell you one other thing that bothered me about this book, but there are apparently some people on this thread who are going to read it and I'd hate to give anything away.
I guess I'll tell you down the road.
Oh, and by the way... how are Pippin and Frodo doing?
Thanks for being circumspect, guys. If you want to discuss, though, I can just ignore this thread until I've read it.
Pippin and Frodo are fine, Gus, and Sam sends you his best.
(And, as you know, Sam's best is pretty good.)
The DaVinci Code
A fun read, full of history and convincing pseudo-history. But I found the ending a cop-out.
I'm really amazed that the Church didn't rise up in anger about this one! (Someone must have told them that making a big to-do about something only excites more and more interest.)
I suppose I am going to have to pick this one up. Was it just out this year? I tend to buy used, less moolah out the door for someone who reads as voraciously as I do. Hmmm, maybe Powell's has some from disgruntled readers..
Tomkitten, the history is accurate enough as far as it goes. It's the interpretation of it that's so over the top. If you read it carefully, I think you'll see that Brown himself doesn't believe any of the nonsense he puts into the mouth of Langdon, the protagonist. It's a book that has to be read carefully, bearing in mind that it's all a gigantic put-on. In the "Epilogue" chapter, when Langdon wakes up at the Paris Ritz, I halfway expected that he would discover the whole things had been a dream, induced by too much wine after the lecture he had given the previous evening. If you read any of Brown's other books, you'll discover that he is a master of the sly dry-as-dust witticism.
Osso, don't know if it's out in paperback yet. I picked it up at Dulles Airport in D.C. to have something to read on the plane returning me to Boston. Paid top dollar, too, for the hardcover.
Merry - can I copy your initial post to the portal as a review? Under your name, of course.