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Notes from a meaningful day - A little less than a happy high — LiveJournal
Notes from a meaningful day
This morning, in celebration of the aniversary of Eric's lack of facial hair, I shaved my beard into a shape that would have made Porthos proud. After taking a moment to admire my work and laugh a little, I promptly shaved it off.

Roasted peppers and fresh tomatoes joined with chevre on a crusty baguette make for a tasty sandwich.

At the heart of French peasant fare are onions of various stripes and butter. This is as true as it is delicious.

An anxiety attack this morning led me to take the day off. That's right, I'm playing hooky on the third business day after having a vacation. I'm a big kid now.

I recently came into a copy of Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code, and at the halfway juncture, I have to say that I'm not impressed. At best, it feels like a cheap knockoff of Eco's Foucault's Pendulum, except that Brown's story is less compelling and written in inelegant, overdescriptive prose.

This book is incredibly popular, so I have to ask, am I missing something? Is it an expected convention that a mystery novel will lead its reader around by the nose? That dramatic tension should be conveyed through chapters so short and choppy that they feel clumsy and contrived? That every character who handles a pistol will pause to reflect on the weapon's maker and bore before choosing to use it? (Can you say "Gun Fetish" boys and girls?) I thought such gross errors were limited to novels published by bored real estate agents through the vanity press.

17 comments or Leave a comment
c_m_i From: c_m_i Date: June 7th, 2004 11:33 am (UTC) (Link)
The worst part about DVC is that Really Smart People (tm) fail to see the Blindingly Obvious (tm). I'm no Harvard prof, but I knew about the Newton thing half the book before Langdon did.

Angels and Demons was better, methinks. But that may be because its clues involved Italian monuments, something I know nothing about. The next book involves Freemasons in DC, so I'll likely read it too.

The Eight by Neville is pretty good so far. Lotsa historical conspiracy.
komos From: komos Date: June 8th, 2004 05:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I thought he was at his best when he was giving the cliff-note version of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, but otherwise, eh. I suppose if the characters had been interesting (or distinguishable) or if I had little experience with the subject matter, I would have been more intrigued. As it was, I was very frustrated at being five steps ahead of everyone and knowing the identity of the villain as soon as he was introduced. I'll be interested to hear what you think of the new one.
margimello From: margimello Date: June 7th, 2004 11:34 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm guilty of being a closet Dan Brown fan...well, not really a fan. It's more like a sick obsession. I like to read his books because they're so mindless. I take them to the gym and read them while I'm on the stationary bike.
komos From: komos Date: June 8th, 2004 05:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Maybe I've become too jaded?

And don't worry... your secret is quite safe here. ^_^
margimello From: margimello Date: June 9th, 2004 09:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Nah...i think you just have standards. heehee.
komos From: komos Date: June 10th, 2004 02:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, it's certainly not like I don't have my share of guilty pleasures (eating cereal in front of Saturday morning cartoons comes to mind...)
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komos From: komos Date: June 8th, 2004 05:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Glad to be of service. Out of curiosity, has Joe ever had real tomatoes, or has his experience been limited to the pink pasty tomato-shaped orbs that seem to be the only ones you can get commercially anymore.

At some point, I need to write up my thoughts on the February Tomato.
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komos From: komos Date: June 8th, 2004 05:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was just disappointed that nothing surprised me. I guess that if you've never come across the ideas he plays with, they might be very moving. Having actively pursued studies in the stories, art, and symbolism around which the book was based, I just wanted something interesting to happen.
cosmicserpent From: cosmicserpent Date: June 7th, 2004 12:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm so glad you think of me in the morning like I think of you.
komos From: komos Date: June 8th, 2004 05:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
I usually think about delicious pie, but this time I was at a great deal more leisure.
From: missmelysse Date: June 7th, 2004 12:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Two words: Mind Candy.
They're fun books, quick, and entertaining.
Think...beach reading.

(But I have to agree with the comment about Neville's The Eight. It's one of my favorite books.
komos From: komos Date: June 8th, 2004 05:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've never been a beach reader. When I'm at the beach, I feel like I should be walking in the surf or sitting on yonder rocks contemplating deep things.

It's sounding more like I'll need to pick up the Neville at some point. After Eggers.
emzebel From: emzebel Date: June 7th, 2004 12:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Is it an expected convention that a mystery novel will lead its reader around by the nose? That dramatic tension should be conveyed through chapters so short and choppy that they feel clumsy and contrived?

In short? Yes. I would posit that a mystery novel that wants to be wildly popular, particularly with a semi-esoteric subject matter, does try to lead its readers around by the nose. I am not saying that this is a good thing...Brown is trying, I think, to be all things to all people - brainy enough to keep the highly educated somewhat entertained, but basic enough that someone with little or no art history, historical scientific and religious education can still follow along and have a good time.

komos From: komos Date: June 8th, 2004 06:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
TDVC reminded me a little of Pearl's The Dante Club - a mid-range mystery couched in an idea that might be of interest to the reader. Maybe I'm just asking too much, but it seems like every other time I turn to the bestsellers list, I either end up with the "all things to all people" formula or with something that's so poorly brilliantly written as to be unintelligible.

I want to see a turn of phrase that's so moving that I'm compelled to set the book aside to feel the words pass into me. I want the "Holy Crap!" factor. I ask a lot, but with something as rich as the Grail legend, I don't think it's that far out of reach.
cinemama From: cinemama Date: June 7th, 2004 01:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh NO!! You're one of the few people I know who could pull off a Porthos, and you shaved it off. Dear oh dear, I guess I'll have to let that dream die.

The DaVinci Code is horribly written, but I beg people to push past that because I think it's fun. It's also in my field of interest so perhaps I had more patience for it. Like I had with The Dumas Club. Are you noticing a trend?
komos From: komos Date: June 8th, 2004 06:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
I knew that of everyone, I could rely on you to appreciate my contemplations. Perhaps I'll move in that direction again. 'Course, it make me wonder what kind of historial recreation groups they have going in France.

I have to tell you a story first.

How was Club Dumas? Will it make me sad?
cinemama From: cinemama Date: June 9th, 2004 06:26 am (UTC) (Link)
I found it, again, fun for lack of a better word. It's definaitely better written than The DaVinci Code, and it puts Dumas front and center where he should be. Imagine my horror when Polanski made his film version Ninth Gate, and cut out *every* Dumas reference. Every..one... The subplot was definitely strong enough (and interesting enough) to sustain a whole film, but I think you lose something when you aren't aware that the villaness has patterned her life after Madame De Winter, right down to the fleur de lis branding tattoo.
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