January 15, 2014

A Brown Study

I have a deep suspicion of two types of books. The first is the book that "everyone" says I should read. Those usually include Nicholas Sparks, Fifty Shades of Whatever, and Dan Brown. The second type of book is the one that critics applaud for "unique" and "existential" writing (or whatever intellectual word is hot at the moment). I'll give you my rant on the latter type in another post, but today let's focus on the first.
I understand (I suppose) the appeal of a populist concept or a formula that works. For example, I am a fan of Dick Francis, and his books are really all about the same thing. But he does it so well.
What I cannot forgive is crappy writing - and yes, I  am aware that I just wrote something "crappy" there myself.
Misspellings, repetition, lack of original descriptions, the inability to stay on topic - I hate that those failings are celebrated in books like Dan Brown's. I've always said that I will at least give him marks for coming up with (slightly) original ideas. They are obviously intriguing enough to get people talking. But let me be clear: He is one of the worst writers who ever sold a million books.
In The Da Vinci Code, I almost threw the book across the room when he wrote that a character had "merlot-colored hair." I barely made it through that book, and almost hurt myself trying to not scream at people who told me how fabulous it was.
What infuriates me is that there are so many fantastic writers out there that do not get their due, and instead we're all treated to a Today Show segment set up only to reveal the name of Brown's new book. Sigh.
So imagine my glee when I discovered that two writers had reviewed Brown's latest book by writing their snarky comments in the margins, and then posting it for the world to see. I know I've said before that I don't like to see books defaced, but if any book deserves it, it would be Brown's.
Showcased on TheMillions.com, the reviewers highlighted Brown's over-use of the same words, his terrible pacing and plotlines, and his inability to stop sprinkling ellipses all over the pages like crumbs. My favorite quote from one of the margin-scribblers: "He writes like an in-flight magazine." I have friends who actually do write for those in-flight magazines and a comparison to Brown is insulting...to them. (Hey, Brown, check out that use of an ellipsis.)
The reviewers now plan to send the book on to others, asking for more fun and to-the-point commentary. I plan to follow along with glee. Read what they have done so far here.
To those of you obsessed with Dan Brown, Nicholas Sparks, or that Fifty Shades chick, I promise you there are books out there that are just as engaging, but much better written. Please please find them. I offer my book reviews to you as a guide.
And to Mr. Brown: Hire yourself a good editor. There are plenty out there who are out of a job right now.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with you. You've said it brilliantly.

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