Friday, November 02, 2007

The Wisdom of Stephen Fry

I read The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown for book club a billion years ago. Boy was that a lousy book club; we met in the conference room at work, over lunch, and it just didn't work. The problem was, it was a bunch of English majors--the point of book club was to talk about writing, really, about literature. But if you read The DaVinci Code, there is no literature to discuss. The book has all the literary merit of The Yellow Pages. By Nynex.

Stephen Fry said it best somewhere buried in his blog (which I haven't read; seriously, have you seen how long those entries are?) when he said that he dismissed the book entirely after reading the first word. He goes into why--it's very interesting--if you can find it on his page, let me know.

So why on Earth, you ask, did I pick up Angles and Demons, which is the first adventure of the "renowned" (that's the aforementioned first word, by the way) symbologist (my spellechecker doesn't even recognize that word) whatshisname (my husband, who has never read either book but to whom I've been complaining endlessly, tells me his name is Robert Langdon)? Well, until I saw the movie, my entire reading experience of the first book was the reaction that it would make a great movie. The plot was fast and furious, great locations, mysteries unlocked by academic knowledge and sheer cleverness. It was fun, if nothing else.

I think Angels and Demons might be worse. I picked it up because I heard it was better, but either my palette has become more refined, or this book sucks, as my sister would say, dookie (I apologize if that is crude; I really don't know what it means). It's choppy. It consists of sentences that read like this. Exactly like this. I do particularly love the sentence fragments that add an adverb to a phrase that was used in the preceding sentence, as I just demonstrated. Also, I love how Langdon, knowing he's sitting on a ticking time bomb (literally a time bomb, though it's digital, so no ticking), keeps thinking about his friend and detective-partner's hot bod. And also how he's so shocked that people have heard of obscure historical figures like, say, Galileo, or organizations like the Illuminati (I didn't know anything about the Illuminati, but I had heard the name). Or how shocked he was that a word could be rendered, through fancy fonting, into a logo with horizontal symmetry. My college CompSci professor could write his name so it looked the same right side up and upside down. This is not rocket science.

This completely discounts the suspensions of disbelief that I'm allowing him. I'm granting him that historians have heard rumors of all kinds of symbols, codes, and logos that they've never actually seen. I'll grant him that the first thing the head of a Swedish think tank does when one of his scientists is brutally murdered is look up the fax number for a good symbologist. I'm even granting you the idea that there are still people alive today who are MAD AS HELL about how Galileo was treated, and decided that, now that the power and influence of the Catholic Church has begun to wane, now science needs defending against those nasty cardinals, with lethal force. Also that the BBC would send a guy they just hired from The Tattler on New Pope Duty at the Vatican because it's the crap job nobody wanted. These are the things I'm not complaining about, mind you, the things I'm taking in stride.

Because I'm that big-hearted.

Feel the love.

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