Dan Brown’s Lost Syntax




At first I had a nice chuckle at this column, tearing into Dan Brown for crafting some awkward sentences.  

The Da Vinci Code, opening sentence: Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery.

Angels and Demons, opening sentence: Physicist Leonardo Vetra smelled burning flesh, and he knew it was his own.

Deception Point, opening sentences: Death, in this forsaken place, could come in countless forms. Geologist Charles Brophy had endured the savage splendor of this terrain for years, and yet nothing could prepare him for a fate as barbarous and unnatural as the one about to befall him.

Professor Pullum: “Renowned author Dan Brown staggered through his formulaic opening sentence”.

 It does come off a little bit harsh and pedantic (especially the number one reason mocking Brown because Da Vinci was not Leonardo’s real last name…well duh, that’s how everyone knows him).  If you are a literary snob, it is not like you need any more evidence of why Dan Brown is a shitty writer.  He is no Thomas Pynchon, where literary critics breathlessly analyze every sentence to decipher layers of meaning, and he is also not as gifted as John Updike was with prose, but there is no doubt Brown knows how to spin a yarn.  Find me anyone who sells 80 million books, and you will find a sizable population of haters.  Thankfully, the internet allows them to share their mutual abhorrence, anonymously and vehemently.

 What I always say is hey, at least people are reading.  So maybe people won’t jump straight from Brown’s latest bestseller Lost Symbols (or Twilight or Harry Potter) into Ulysses.  But (hopefully) it might turn into a habit, maybe a copy of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto.  Then maybe Blink or Watchmen.  Eventually they are flying through Hemingway and Vonnegut and the Brontë sisters, before tackling weighty tomes like Infinite Jest and Three Kingdoms.  Hopefully.

 Now if you insist on hating an author, I offer you Tom Clancy.  I admit to having read some of his books (Red Storm Rising and The Hunt for Red October were quite entertaining) but as it became more evident how he held Asians in such low regard, I say: “Go to hell, Tom Clancy.  And take your half-billion dollar empire with you.”


1 Response to “Dan Brown’s Lost Syntax”

  1. October 5, 2009 at 7:04 am

    Like Twilight´s Stephanie Meyers, yes they are shitty writers, but my gosh do they know how to keep the readers hooked. That is a skill so many gifted witers really suck at, dramatization.
    For me I sometimes dont care about the prose as long as I cant put the book down, I am happy:

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