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Irrational Hatred

I hate that book. I hate it because I wanted it to be good, and it wasn't. And now, they're making a movie out of it. Well, that's a must-miss.

1. The subject wasn't just not original, it was lazy.

It's like Dan Brown rewrote the Cliff's Notes for Foucault's Pendulum and took out the interesting parts of it. I loved Foucault's Pendulum because it did what I want books to do for me. It entertained me and challenged me and made me desire to learn more about a subject (in this case, the Crusades) without making me feel like a moron for not knowing as much as Umberto Eco.

2. The writing was horrible.

Everything writers are told not to do, Dan Brown does in spades. Except that rather than coming off as some kind of edgy experimental fiction, like the use of second person in Bright Lights, Big City, it just comes off as what it is - bad writing. Brand names used as shorthand for description, lazy cliches, more adverbs than you could fit into a college freshman creative writing project.

3. The most poorly developed characters I've ever read in a commercial novel.

Supposedly this is a story about a woman who is a crack decoder helping a man who is a grail expert solve the mystery of her uncle's death. Except that, if you've been paying ANY KIND OF ATTENTION, you've solved that mystery after the third chapter and the rest of it is just one long cringefest because what was obvious to you 100 pages ago still hasn't dawned on these two "experts." Any text that claims that backward writing is an undecipherable code assumes that not only are its own characters morons, but that you are too.

4. Every time I hear about the popularity of this book, I am reminded of the low mentality of the vast majority of the country, and that depresses me.

The worst part is that I bought it too. It was the first audiobook I got when I got Audible, and I waited for the entire 15 hours of it for it to get good. And once I was done and realized that I had been had, I called everyone I knew and told them "Don't read this! It's terrible!" And my family being what they are, they all rushed out to buy Foucault's Pendulum. That was gratifying, but I realized that my family was in the tiny, tiny minority. There are people out there who have read the book and now feel smug and cool because they think that they've been let in on some secret. But it's like tasting McDonald's food for the first time and being smug because you've been let in on the "secret" that their secret sauce is Thousand Island dressing. When Umberto Eco's book is like the most amazing meal a person could have.

I would be happy to lend anyone who wants it my copy of Foucault's Pendulum.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 22nd, 2005 12:15 am (UTC)
Based on your description, I now need to read Foucault's Pendulum. It's sounds amazing.

And yet, I am still tempted to read Davinci Code. Partly because I am curious to see just what all the fuss is about. I've heard of too many people who love or hate it.

If nothing else, I'll learn about what not to do in my writing.

Jan. 22nd, 2005 12:23 am (UTC)
To be honest, I couldn't get into Foucault's Pendulum. Loved The Name of the Rose, but... I couldn't get past the opening chapter of Pendulum. Ah, well.

But based on your recommendation, I will not be buying or reading The DaVinci Code. In fact, I've even told people who are reading it or buying it "Eh-- I heard it was pretty awful writing, actually, for all the hype," which generally gets people to read more critically and come to a less hype-driven conclusion.

Personally, I knew The DaVinci Code couldn't be that good even before you told me about reading it, just because too many people have taken it as gospel. That says to me that (a) there are a lot of really stupid, gullible people in the world, (b) there are a lot of people who don't read critically, and (c) the book probably hits on everything that people like about religion, because it's just about spawned its own cult.
Jan. 22nd, 2005 12:28 am (UTC)
I didn't think DaVinci Code was all that bad, you know, for beach reading that you can complete in an hour. But I went into it expecting mind-candy, and that's what I got.

I read Foucault's Pendulum years ago, around the time I first read The Eight, I think. Loved it. Eco totally rocks my world. He's deep and insightful, and his books are long enough to last, and detailed enough to NOT be beach reading.
Jan. 22nd, 2005 12:31 am (UTC)
I just have to say "DITTO!" in spades. I read Foucault's Pendulum ages ago, and found it quite difficult, and I didn't always get it, but when it was over, I loved it and I was so intrigued by all the information I'd just been given. And I told several of my friends that "DaVinci Code" was just "Foucault's Pendulum" lite.

What really scared me was the fact that some women I know not only loved the book, but believed everything in it! All the information they took as fact and they soaked up all the books that followed that supported that belief.
Jan. 22nd, 2005 12:39 am (UTC)
See above comment re: really stupid, gullible people. I swear, it's the DaVinci Cult.
Jan. 22nd, 2005 12:40 am (UTC)
I loved Foucault's Pendulum and so far have skipped Da Vinci Code -- if the author can't figure out the the man's name was Leonardo and "da Vinci" means "from the town of Vinci," I am not likely to trust his scholarship on anything.

And thanks for the link.(blush)
Jan. 22nd, 2005 03:38 am (UTC)
I'm telling you, based on just the description you gave, I'm dying to eat there.

Well, except for the cats. But as long as they're outside, it should be fine.
Jan. 22nd, 2005 01:16 am (UTC)
I tried twice to get through Foucault's Pendulum and did not succeed. Maybe someday.

I too am instinctively scared of novels that I see everyone everywhere reading.
Jan. 22nd, 2005 03:10 am (UTC)
The opening scene was great, when it could still have been an action movie, and before it tried to be intelligent and mysterious (yeah, right). Its ideal movie fodder - mindless, and at least we won't have the terrible writing to endure, just lots of ooh, pretty pictures.

Last time I tried Pendulum it just flummoxed me, that's years back mind, might need to try again...
Jan. 22nd, 2005 03:33 am (UTC)
I sometimes wonder if all the stuff we're told we can't do in fiction is moot when it comes to "high concept". Like the movies, a high concept idea will get greenlighted over the carfully constructed mini-masterpiece every time.

Jan. 22nd, 2005 04:17 am (UTC)
I have not read either book, but from what I know about The DaVinci Code, I refuse to read it and I somewhat agree with you on number 4 anyway.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )