Tuesday, September 15, 2009

9/15/09 - Slate.com on Dan Brown's superawesome protagonists


When people asked me if I liked The Da Vinci Code and I told them that the terrible writing was hard to get past, I'm talking about passages like this from Mr. Dan Brown:

"The youngest full professor at Georgetown University and a brilliant foreign-language specialist, he was practically a celebrity in the world of academia. Born with an eidetic memory and a love of languages, he'd mastered six Asian dialects as well as Spanish, French, and Italian. His university lectures on etymology and linguistics were standing-room-only, and he invariably stayed late to answer a barrage of questions. He spoke with authority and enthusiasm, apparently oblivious to the adoring gazes of his star-struck coeds."
--from Angels and Demons

I remember at one point in The Da Vinci Code where Brown describes Langdon as Indiana Jones-like, which struck me as a pretty bold simile, considering that a) Langdon basically is Brown's attempt at writing an Indiana Jones type character, and b) Langdon seems to have none of the flaws that make Indy interesting. The failed/strained relationship with his father, the complications in his romantic life. No, Langdon is like Brown's dream version of Indiana Jones - the version that I used to pretend I was as a 10-year old, all superintelligence and rugged good looks.

All of which is to say that although I read the whole book I decided Brown isn't my cup of tea. I've got nothing against popular works of art, and I've got nothing against genre fiction, and I don't even have anything against workmanlike prose, but I don't have a lot of interest in following patently unrealistically awesome protagonists. The guys that grow up to be symbologists (which is no one, since the scholarly field as far as I can tell does not exist) are not the ones that are dominating swim meets in between World of Warcraft bouts.

And geez, if they guy is Indiana Jones, who cast Tom Hanks to play him? Ball: dropped.

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