Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Lost Reader

I admit it: I got caught up in the Dan Brown frenzy a few years ago with the release of Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code. I make no excuses other than to say that the plot tension and twists in those two works of fiction kept me riveted and trumped the fact that this guy puts words and sentences together at an 8th grade level. Enthralled with his storytelling, I subsequently purchased two other Brown novels, Deception Point and Digital Fortress, and could not manage to read beyond 2-digit page numbers. Bottom line for me: Dan Brown has yet to reach a quality level suitable to refer to him as sophomoric. Nonetheless, my wife purchased me a copy of his very latest, The Lost Symbol, and I just completed it about an hour ago. It’s not short – just over 500 pages – and it took me a goodly number of sessions before I could fight through to the bitter end. As my good pal, KVD, said to me regarding this book in a message over the weekend: ‘I can put it down.’ For KVD and me this was not the case with Angels and Da Vinci. Now that I made it through I have the sensation that I just worked on a moderately difficult sudoku puzzle for the past week all the time wishing I were doing something else. Of course, there’s no denying a few very surprising twists that entertain and keep one buoyed. However, the space between the fascinations is filled with mundane and oft-repeated mystical history, occult ramblings, plot-advancing dialogue, spiritual explanations, worn out numerology and just plain lousy writing. Dan Brown and his editors should be lined up and slapped by everyone that bought this book for allowing half of these pages into the final text. (As Mr. Brown might say: Langdon knew that the simple act of slapping a man in the face had its origins in pre-Pyramidal Egypt during the Kofu dynasty and was carried into the west via the patriarchal legends of the Hebrews, further disbursed by The Knights Templar into Roman courts and portions of France in the 13th century and finally made formidable and everlasting by the Rosa Croix martyrs in Scotland and their depiction - in a hidden stained-glass cameo - of Moe, Larry and Curly.) The ubiquitous Professor Langdon shows up again with most of the answers and, like Indiana Jones, survives all manner of physical and mental torture proving to be our hero. This time the subject matter is the wide spread impact of Freemasonry, especially as it manifested itself in the lives of America’s Founding Fathers and, even more specifically, how it played a central role in the layout, construction and architecture of our nation’s capitol. The antagonist is but a caricature of the evil incarnate antagonists from Brown’s prior two novels: undergoing constant transformation and becoming god-like in an effort to reveal The Ancient Mysteries to all of mankind. If Tom and Opie decide to take this road kill to celluloid and they are true to the text, prepare for very long, unlikely and absurd dialogue about where this staircase may be and what Isaac Newton has to do with it and why cornerstones are always set in the northeast corner of any structure while someone (or several people) are off to the side with blood spurting out of their veins or drowning or both. This one should pretty much wrap it up for Danny Boy.


Blogger Nancy said...

Try Harlan Coben or Michael Connelly and Stay away from Dan Brown

October 6, 2009 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger Thom Schuyler said...

Nancy - Good advice, indeed, except I've read all of Coben's and Connelly's books - everyone of them.

October 7, 2009 at 8:05 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

What about Dennis (I think that is right) LeHane. He wrote Mystic River and Shutter Island which I haven't figured our yet!

October 7, 2009 at 2:18 PM  

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