Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Dan Brown, per Damien Broderick

Texan-Australian science fiction writer Damien Broderick wrote this funny piece on Dan Brown on the Fictionmags e-mail list and I asked his permission to use it also here in Pulpetti.

I decided to read ANGELS AND DEMONS. The Dan Brown method is truly amazing. It seems at first to be quite incredibly amateurish and bad. That can't be all that's in play. It alarms me to think that he probably researched 100s of best sellers and factored down to the kind of sentence structure most people like because it is nothing but a string of concrete labels that convey expertise and wealth or terror, and dialogue right out of those pulps that were enormously popular among the barely literate. It would be excruciating to try to write for hundreds of pages in this sort of vulgarized voice. Well, for a few million bucks--if guaranteed--maybe it'd be worth the pain and disgust.

Brown assumes that the reader is a know-nothing simpleton, but here is his stroke of genius: instead of infodumping baldly, he has his man explain to a genius wheelchair bound Stephen Hawking figure who Galileo is and what his crime was, who the Illuminati were, who the fucking Masons were. You can see why people in the middle of the Bell Curve would warm to this.

Some of Brown's absurd success is no doubt accident of timing, and the big buck PR push on a selected candidate, but not all. It's possible to identify the elements--strange ancient mysteries, dark conspiracies of church or state, and the usual blockbuster "expertise" of a grotesquely itemizing kind ("He slipped into his Slashnburn 450-GT hybrid manufactured in Uppchuck Sweden, of which only five had ever been handcrafted for the Kings of Siam, careful of the crease in his Fortum&Freemason grey twill pantaloons handstitched by the leading Gnome of Zurich, Herr Frogleg Sauerkraut"), etc.

While e-mailing about this, Damien asked me to add this:

There was another great bit 70 or so pages on, where a genius explains antimatter:
"Everything has an opposite. Protons have electrons. Up quarks have down quarks." Protons have antiprotons, you moron! I screamed at the book. Up quarks have anti-up quarks! But the book didn't hear me, or didn't care...

1 comment:

Chris said...

Hey, you mock, but the waiting list for genuine Frogleg Sauerkraut hand-stitched pantaloons is now at three years, thanks to Brown!