Dan Brown’s latest novel, The Lost Symbol, hit the newsstands last week. Okay, maybe “hit” is not the right word. The new release actually rolled over the newsstands. Sources say the thriller sold well over a million copies in the United States, Canada, and Britain on the first day it was released. It dominated sales at Amazon — both in the hardcover version and the digital version for the Kindle. The Lost Symbol, of course, follows Brown’s other opus, The Da Vinci Code, which according to the author’s web site, has sold more than 40 million copies.
Think about that for a minute. 40 million copies. That’s a heap of books, and this is one successful author.
So what’s the mystery?
Dan Brown is a terrible writer. And I don’t mean “Gee, I just don’t care much for that style” kind of terrible. I mean the guy is really, really bad.
My wife and I read The Da Vinci Code , mainly just to see what all the fuss was about. The book stunned us into silence. For a couple of days, we couldn’t bring ourselves to talk about it. You know that feeling you get when you’re in a gallery somewhere and you’re standing in front of a piece of art — usually modern or postmodern — that you just don’t understand? Most of us tend to stifle that small questioning voice because, hey — it’s in an art gallery. It must be good, even if I don’t get it.
Reading The Da Vinci Code was like that for me — except the gallery had 40 million people in it and the painting had been done with a bucket of tempera and one of those chunky brushes your preschooler uses. Even setting aside the glaring historical hogwash or the clumsy attempts to use dialogue to fill in the backstory, the language itself is clunky and often mangled in a way that defies description.
I mean, get a load of this, taken from Chapter Four of The Da Vinci Code:
He could taste the familiar tang of museum air – an arid, deionized essence that carried a faint hint of carbon – the product of industrial, coal-filter dehumidifiers that ran around the clock to counteract the corrosive carbon dioxide exhaled by visitors.
Still, though, my wife and I did the socially acceptable thing and held our tongues when people asked us if we had read it, or recommended it to us as a “really good book.”
So imagine how relieved I was to discover we are not alone. This article in the Telegraph pulls back the curtain to reveal just what a bad writer Dan Brown is, and offers 20 good examples.
More to come …