[lit-ideas] Re: Da Vinci Code

  • From: Carol Kirschenbaum <carolkir@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 29 May 2006 12:02:04 -0700

Paul penned:
> I think the ADD-catering chapters [about 2 or 3 pages] were the most 
> off-putting as well as the batman-like "turn the page, but don't die from 
> suspense in the mean time"

ck: I credited a smart editor with the excessive use of mini-chapters and 
cliffhangers. DVC delivers in the suspense format. Structurally, it's a 
model for made-for-TV books. I pushed it on a writer who wanted to learn 
that craft, and would advise anyone who thinks her writing "too literary" to 
give a look at the bite-sized structure.


It's poorly written. Sentences bog themselves down. Cliches crowd each other 
out in mid-paragraph. The writing is much worse than I expected from a pop 
fiction read, and I'm no snob. The writing gets in the reader's way. (That 
same ADD reader, who rejoiced upon seeing two-page chapters, probably 
mutters, "Gee, this is too deep for me..." around page 20.)

Forget the mechanics of writing--that's academic crap anyway, right? Let's 
get to the juicy part! The characters! The meanings these people are 
tracking down, through symbology and cryptography and codography or 

Incredibly disappointing. The plot is driven by that scene in the Louvre, 
which the author seems to find amazing and compelling. It's a "huh" not a 
gasp. The more the author milks it, the less of a huh it is. That kicks off 
a treasure hunt, where we the readers are treated to a bunch of clues that 
aren't very challenging or clever. As romances go, this one lacks even one 
credible character. No heat. Finally, the big Christian revelation is a 
ho-hum if you're passingly familiar with gnosticism and early Christian 
writings. (I took a course in this at Berkeley, ages ago, out of curiosity. 
It was much, much more satisfying than Dan Brown's rushed, compressed 

Action? Not much, really. Wooden characters are plunked down here and there. 
A couple get whacked, but no tears--you can't care for anyone in this thing. 
Apparently, though, readers are still able to get upset by a hint of incest 
and a soupcon of group sex with old people, in ritualistic "Eyes Wide Shut" 

Seems like a lot going on in one book. Doesn't feel like it, though. I 
expected something coherent, at least. Saw a clip of the movie on a 
late-night talk show: Tom Hanks in a car, with stuff racing by; lotsa stuff 
from Tom Hanks' pov. Looked chaotic and fatiguing. I'll probably catch it on 
DVD, one of these days.

Has anyone else seen _Munich_? It was better than I expected.

Better yet is a made-in-Algeria DVD I watched last night, thanks to a 
netflix-type service, called  _Rachida_. Affecting drama about Algerian 
women (mostly) and how they're surviving amid a society dominated by 
terrorists. Female director, humanistic, Arab sensibilities. This film--done 
in 2004, I think---is distributed in the US as part of a series of little 
known but worthy efforts, under the name WorldLens. Anyone heard of it?


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