Monday, May 20, 2013

Brief thoughts of Dan Brown hate

I don't have much this week except for a couple of thoughts.
I'm puzzled by some of the Dan Brown hate I've seen recently. Especially from other writers. It seems to me that writers should be open to all sorts of fiction: Fiction from all of the genres; fiction that sells very well and fiction that doesn't; award winners non award winners, lowbrow, highbrow, whatever. And THIS is part of what is meant by read a lot. It also seems to me that you can learn just as much from a badly written novel as a brilliantly written one.

I think criticism of Brown's work is fair, and have linked to some of it in the past, but pointing out the flaws is easy. Reading everything and trying to find something positive, or something to learn from, maybe that's a better challenge.


Scott D. Parker said...

I, for one, enjoyed both the Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons for what they were: great summer reads. If I can check my brain at the door of a theater when I watch some movies, I can easily do the same thing for books (and comics). I didn't enjoy the Lost Symbol as much despite it's setting of Washington. I'm looking forward to reading Inferno. It's the next book on my TBR pile as soon as I finish the new Doc Savage book.

Dana King said...

"Reading everything and trying to find something positive, or something to learn from, maybe that's a better challenge."

It's certainly MOrE of a challenge. :)

To me, what gives others more of a free rein to batter Brown as opposed to, say, JK Rowling or Tom Clancy or james Patterson, is how bad the writing really is. The thriller plots are a bit much, but no more so than a lot of thriller writers. The parodies circulating now about Brown's numerous writing idiosyncrasies are hilarious, and why I can't read any more of him. It makes my head hurt.

I don't begrudge him a penny of his earnings. Anyone who can hit the public's sweet spot as well as he has deserves whatever he makes.

Steve Weddle said...

Totes agree. Hundred years ago I said a thing here about Dan Brown's books:

I think people tend to discount what page-turners his books are. I didn't read the one before this new one and I haven't read the new one. Up until then, though, the books moved along swiftly. Weekend matinees. I don't think Dan Brown ever set out to be Chekov.

I think he'll survive people saying mean things about him, but making fun of him also insults his readers, right? I mean, a gabillion people read his books. Seriously. He's a best seller. You can look it up. It's on the internet. So why do people love his books if he's so terrible? Justin Beavers sells millions of songs. Long John Silver's sells tons of food. Jackson Pollock sold many "paintings."

By saying Dan Brown can't write, aren't you insulting millions of readers?

John McFetridge said...

Yeah, you're insulting readers. Is that so terrible? Don't we complain about every kid being over-praised for every little thing in the name of self-esteem? Now we have to praise people every time they pick up a book, no matter what's between the covers?

I defend Stephen King to book snobs all the time but I can't defend Dan Brown.

Jay Stringer said...

I'm not a fan, and I don't think he's a good writer, but I'm also uncomfortable with all the hate. It's just modern media, really, modern internet; for or against, love or hate.

Something I can never go with really is the idea of 'brainless fun.' I don't want to switch my brain off. If I did that in a hospital the doctor would check his watch and say the time aloud.

I find that we as a culture have allowed some general agreement to take place that it's okay for us to be patronised. It's okay for some hollywood screenwriters to pocket thousands of dollars without doing their jobs, because it's fun. "fun."

It's the culture of not thinking. Of telling people to switch their brains off in leisure time and stop asking questions.

It's our brains that release the chemicals that make us have "fun," so there is no greater thrill than using your brain as much as possible. We need to stop settling for less.

How does this relate to Dan Brown? I have no idea. I saw a tangent and I ran at it full tilt.

Someone Said said...

I hate the Dan Brown hate. Criticize his writing style, his research, but the personal junk is not necessary. His pacing is amazing, he's capable of creating page turners. Not for me, so much, but why take it out on his reader?

Adam Christopher said...

I hate the hate.

He's an author, and people love his books. How can that be a bad thing? Books are cool. Even if a large proportion of his readership don't buy or read anything else, so what? They've enjoyed the latest adventure. Cool.

If you don't like him? Don't read him. No problem. I don't like olives, so I don't eat them. I certainly don't feel the need to tell people I don't like them and that they shouldn't like them either.

In fact, the current round of bashing just makes me want to read INFERNO. And I think I might, and I'll make up my own mind. And as Steve W says above, while his technical skill at writing might be a bit clunky, Brown's books clearly have something there which keeps people turning the pages. Whatever that X-factor is, it's impossible to define and analyse, and I'm pretty much in awe of any writer who can capture that... thing, whatever it is. Stephen King can do it. JK Rowling can do it.

Maybe if I read INFERNO I might get a bit closer to learning how to get that page-turn-ability that helps sell books by the container load.

EA said...

Live and let live. I agree that going overboard on the disparaging comments insults million of readers. I feel the same way when otherwise respectable writers crap all over James Patterson, and do so with a smug, clubby 'tide like we're all in the same club. It's seems cheap to me.

Rahul said...

The book is good, of course it will be for it is Dan Brown's. But I must say its definitely not his best work. Regardless, the way he can make us think about certain things, here which is Dante's Inferno, is exceptional. His knowledge is clear and in depth and the way he can present facts from certain angles can take us aback.

Also the thing I absolutely love about him is his awesome portrayal of the female leads of his books. That is something Chetan Bhagat needs to learn bad.