Author Topic: an apology  (Read 10236 times)

Cudzoziemiec

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Re: an apology
« Reply #25 on: June 19, 2013, 08:27:53 pm »
I've never read anything by Dan Brown, but far from "submerged in the effervescent silliness", I thought people took him and his ideas rather seriously? Or was that only the Da Vinci Code (that was the one about secret codes in the Vatican or thereabouts?) ?
sideways bounding monkey lounging under fruit tree

Re: an apology
« Reply #26 on: June 19, 2013, 08:35:16 pm »
Ben, if you've read Angels and Demons - quite entertaining on its own, and the first of the series  - then Inferno is basically the same thing set in Florence.  If you want to try Dan Brown, then A&D and TDVC are the only two worth bothering with.  The Lost Symbol is a clone of them, like Inferno.

Amonmg the non-Langdon books, Deception Point is very mediocre, sub-Clive Cussler (and that's saying something).  Digital Fortress is incredibly shite.  I read these things so you don't have to.
Never tell me the odds.

Jaded

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Re: an apology
« Reply #27 on: June 19, 2013, 08:43:40 pm »
I'm not explaining cheese or men in tights to you. These are things best learned through experience.

 ;D
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

Re: an apology
« Reply #28 on: June 19, 2013, 08:53:17 pm »
Ben T you claim to dislike and not understand metaphors. Dan Brown books have more metaphors per sentence than a magic realism novel and what's more they are crap and don't work !
If you want simple clear writing try Ernest Hemingway,
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

Eccentrica Gallumbits

  • Rock 'n' roll and brew, rock 'n' roll and brew...
Re: an apology
« Reply #29 on: June 19, 2013, 09:00:56 pm »
I've never read anything by Dan Brown, but far from "submerged in the effervescent silliness", I thought people took him and his ideas rather seriously? Or was that only the Da Vinci Code (that was the one about secret codes in the Vatican or thereabouts?) ?
It's a shame that in all the groaning over the terribleness of Dan Brown's writing, people often overlook the fundamental truths in his work, hidden like an apple in the middle of a pizza.
My feminist marxist dialectic brings all the boys to the yard.


Re: an apology
« Reply #30 on: June 19, 2013, 09:12:37 pm »
Quote
Clint Van Rental perused the ancient tome in front of him like a predator eyeing a potential foe. His greying countenance squinted at the ancient script. "What can it mean?" he pondered as he peered at the barely legible text like a short-sighted owl. A rush of air like a kitten on a moped made him look up. "Ah, Miss Frankenfurter" he exclaimed, as the willowy German scientist, brilliant in her field, swept into the room, her buttocks flared in annoyance. "I hope you are well, Van Rental" she purred, like a drugged Siamese. "Tolerably well, Miss Frankenfurter, my wife recently died but I'm over that now and ready to enter into meaningless sex anytime soon".  "Vot ist the meaning of this!?" she suddenly exclaimed, as she thrust a sheaf of papers on his desk. Van Rental lowered his head to his hands as he recognised the barely legible hand writing of his old foe, Count Timpani Von Autobahn. "Why?" He thought. "Why me? Why do I always get dragged into running with a willowy German woman to a church that has a big arrow on it pointing to another church?" He glanced at his barely legible notes and reluctantly drained his coffee and led his companion to the door like a barely legible groom dragging his arranged-marriage bride to the bridal suite for sex and that. He steeled himself against the inevitable fandango that always seemed to follow him around, like a barely legible albatross. 

Mrs Pingu

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Re: an apology
« Reply #31 on: June 19, 2013, 10:18:58 pm »
I can't wait to read Ian's novels!
Do not clench. It only makes it worse.

Euan Uzami

Re: an apology
« Reply #32 on: June 19, 2013, 11:19:06 pm »
The problem with his simply telling you things is that they have no context. It's stodgy, omnipresent narration. Rather than let characters develop, he drops facts on them like little bombs. It may as well be a shopping list of handy character facts. A man is fat. Pigs are pink. A woman is tall. Why at the point of a doctor appearing in the doorway do I need to know she has the assertive gait of a athlete?

So you can picture the scene in your mind's eye.
That, and the fact that she has penetrating eyes, is just a way of getting across that she's a strong, assertive, strident, woman - not a mousey, dithering or gormless type of nurse.
It's probably so you can picture yourself as the bloke who's ill - to get across that he probably quickly thinks "ooh bloody hell, she looks like she means business" rather than "oh god, not 'er again."


and by
Quote
gazing into those eyes if they [have] witnessed a profundity of experience rarely encountered by a person [their] age

he's not literally describing how she looks. He's saying that, unbeknownst to the guy in bed, as a matter of fact, she actually HAS see things rarely seen by a person her age. In other words, he's in a hospital in probably a very rough area, where people come in in all sorts of states. By the fact that she looks ever so slightly aghast, but strident with it, he can't help wondering whether this is the case. It's describing it from his perspective again, remember.

See - I obviously understand Dan Brown books better than you - you obviously just don't understand it.
I see what you mean about it being metaphors, now - it still makes sense literally, but  the intended meaning is on a slightly different level, so I suppose that makes it a metaphor really.

Euan Uzami

Re: an apology
« Reply #33 on: June 19, 2013, 11:31:44 pm »
Ben, if you've read Angels and Demons - quite entertaining on its own, and the first of the series  - then Inferno is basically the same thing set in Florence.  If you want to try Dan Brown, then A&D and TDVC are the only two worth bothering with.  The Lost Symbol is a clone of them, like Inferno.

Amonmg the non-Langdon books, Deception Point is very mediocre, sub-Clive Cussler (and that's saying something).  Digital Fortress is incredibly shite.  I read these things so you don't have to.

I've read all the Dan Brown books apart from the latest one. I was just wondering whether it was radically different.
I'm assuming not - I assume that all the Dan Brown haters on this thread think all the others are shite as well, but i'm happy to stand corrected.
While ago but they basically seemed to be variations on a theme, guy gets caught up in an investigation that gets bigger and bigger the more he investigates and ends up basically drawn into being involved with the illuminati. But you always want to know what happens next.

ian

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Re: an apology
« Reply #34 on: June 20, 2013, 10:23:39 am »
The problem with his simply telling you things is that they have no context. It's stodgy, omnipresent narration. Rather than let characters develop, he drops facts on them like little bombs. It may as well be a shopping list of handy character facts. A man is fat. Pigs are pink. A woman is tall. Why at the point of a doctor appearing in the doorway do I need to know she has the assertive gait of a athlete?

So you can picture the scene in your mind's eye.
That, and the fact that she has penetrating eyes, is just a way of getting across that she's a strong, assertive, strident, woman - not a mousey, dithering or gormless type of nurse.
It's probably so you can picture yourself as the bloke who's ill - to get across that he probably quickly thinks "ooh bloody hell, she looks like she means business" rather than "oh god, not 'er again."


and by
Quote
gazing into those eyes if they [have] witnessed a profundity of experience rarely encountered by a person [their] age

he's not literally describing how she looks. He's saying that, unbeknownst to the guy in bed, as a matter of fact, she actually HAS see things rarely seen by a person her age. In other words, he's in a hospital in probably a very rough area, where people come in in all sorts of states. By the fact that she looks ever so slightly aghast, but strident with it, he can't help wondering whether this is the case. It's describing it from his perspective again, remember.

See - I obviously understand Dan Brown books better than you - you obviously just don't understand it.
I see what you mean about it being metaphors, now - it still makes sense literally, but  the intended meaning is on a slightly different level, so I suppose that makes it a metaphor really.

You can get all that from a penetrating stare? I'm impressed. See, you are using your imagination. Admittedly, by that point I already knew that she was in serious danger of becoming the standard subservient female character, who is about to spend the remainder of books being dragged across page after page in the hero's wake, who will undoubtedly be placed in peril at some point, but fear not, she'll be united with the hero at the end, as he undoubtedly foils some nefarious plot laid by international terrorists / the Vatican / Illuminati / Knights Templar / clowns (delete as a appropriate, but if it's clowns I may have to re-start reading). That's why it's so unremittingly dull. OK, I'll eat my words if she takes a hollow-point in the back of the head a few pages after I gave up, and Langdon instead takes up with a team of dwarves on the run from their indenture on a evil travelling circus (see, I'm working that clown angle already, so pay attention Danny-boy, this is how it's done).

I can't bring myself to care. She's not actually a character. Langdon's not actually a character either, no matter how often DB tells us about his 'Harris Tweeds' (he's an academic, see?). Characters have substance. They have a history. They have aspirations. They have foibles, strengths, and weaknesses. Things we can understand because we have them too. Good characters create a strand of empathy between you and them. You might not like them, but you want to know what happens to them next. The author has made you care. It doesn't have to be fantastic, poetic writing to achieve this. It doesn't actually need acres of metaphor, endless similes, allusion, but they can help illuminate the story (they can also clutter). It does require some effort to create a character that someone can care about though. That, I suppose, is why I felt Inferno was such an enormous battleship of a turd. Had he perhaps tried to do something different, told a different story, he might have got away with the cardboard characters, and that tortured, clichéd prose. Perhaps it is a different story, but hey, I'm thinking not. If you want an assignment, go away and read it, and report back here once you are finished. I will humbly make yet another apology, nay, a plea for forgiveness from the YACF masses should I be wrong and there really is a clown-related adventure.

I'm still not going to forgive phrases like profundity of experience though. And it's full of them. I bet there's plenty of italics too, as he ladles out steaming plot mess. I didn't get that far.
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citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: an apology
« Reply #35 on: June 20, 2013, 11:23:13 am »
The problem with his simply telling you things is that they have no context. It's stodgy, omnipresent narration. Rather than let characters develop, he drops facts on them like little bombs. It may as well be a shopping list of handy character facts. A man is fat. Pigs are pink. A woman is tall.

Yebbut, Dan Brown wouldn't just say "pigs are pink", he'd say something like "the four-legged porcine farmyard animals transported a delicately rosy hue about their bristled hide".

Quote
Horses for courses, I suppose. If he really wanted to demonstrate she had acquired had some kind of profundity of experience (oh what a phrase), perhaps he could have done so via some interaction, perhaps a hint of backstory, rather than merely divining it from the depths of her penetrating stare.

He spoonfeeds effects rather than causes, and gives no hint of what the causes might be, merely pigeonholes his characters with a list a series of superficial traits. This means you aren't allowed to draw your own conclusions about characters, so you can't engage with them. His characters are more like advertising tropes than anything resembling real people.

Some element of having to work it out for yourself is a fundamental requirement of being able to engage with characters in fiction. The best writers will feed lots of other stuff between the lines but it doesn't necessarily mean their writing is necessarily "difficult" - see Jane Austen, for example.

OK, so 19th century middle class relationships may not be your bag. If you fancy something more modern, try Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart - one of my favourite new books of the last few years, slightly unconventional in its narrative structure but in a very readable way. There are so many books that are actually worth reading out there, no one should need to resort to Dan Brown.

Julian

  • samoture
Re: an apology
« Reply #36 on: June 20, 2013, 12:48:16 pm »
I have a degree in reading critically, and my hobby is reading uncritically.  I will read and enjoy popular writers from John Grisham to Enid Blyton.  I'm not a literature snob.  There's nothing wrong with a good story told in undemanding prose.

Dan Brown's repetitive style would make even Enid want to stab herself in the eyes with forks.  He's on the very short list of writers whose books I actually couldn't manage to finish, and I say that as someone who will read to the end of the back of a packet of cornflakes if there's nothing else available.

Re: an apology
« Reply #37 on: June 20, 2013, 01:30:16 pm »
;D
But WHY is it shit?
Is there no plot, or is it that there is a plot but it is just written in such a simplistic, cringeworthy, childlike writing style that it mars your appreciation of it?
Because that's what I like - I'm quite thick when it comes to novels, I don't understand 'reading between the lines', metaphors, subtlety, nuance, having to work out what's implicitly going on, etc. I need "he did this and then this happened and then the situation was like this". Stylistic writing just washes straight over my head.
I have read & enjoyed many books & stories written in a simple, straightforward,  metaphor-free, even childlike, style. There is nothing wrong with it. Indeed, I find simplicity in writing very attractive. See mrcharly's list for a few of the many writers who have done it well.

That is not Dan Brown. I've looked (until my brain hurt, which means very briefly) into one of Dan Brown's books. The style is crap.

Excellent, thanks - that's made the decision very easy for me, I'm going to buy it for my kindle and read it over the weekend.
'Not liked by people who want "style"' usually == 'nice and easy to read'.

Question, is the latest Dan Brown book along the same lines as the others?
Better, worse?
You have completely misunderstood me. I didn't say I liked 'style', nor that Dan Brown is nice & easy to read. Mrcharly gave you a partial list of writers who are nice & easy to read. You seem to think that I'm saying that an awful style is the same as no style. Not true. Some of the worst crap I've ever read has been by writers who were trying to show off their style. You seem to think that style must mean something fancy. Not so. Take a look at the Economist's style guide, for example. Basically, it says to keep it simple, clear, and unambiguous. That's a style - and as far as it goes, an excellent one.

BTW, not only have you misunderstood me, but it seems to me that your misunderstanding is wilful, & slightly offensive. You've lumped me in with people who think that the more mannered & elaborate writing is the better it is, despite me stating the opposite. I love clear, simple writing, the sort where there is no attempt at stylishness; writing where the story is the sole focus of attention, not the writer's skill with words. As I said, Dan Brown does not write like that. He rams his style in yer face.  He shows off (or tries to). And to make it even worse, he does it badly.                                                                                         

Julian says it very well. "A good story told in undemanding prose"  :thumbsup: Spot on.  I love 'em. But that ain't Dan Brown!

Like her, I'll read almost anything. I usually can't leave a book unfinished, even if I hate it. Dan Brown is one of a handful of writers I've encountered* who has managed to write something that I can start & not finish.

*For the sake of completeness, I must point out that there are entire genres I've avoided, such as Mills & Boon romances.
"A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Type-Writer Girl, 1897

Re: an apology
« Reply #38 on: June 20, 2013, 01:37:53 pm »
In terms of character development, I always enjoyed the Rebus books by Ian Rankin.  They are dragging out a bit, as 'Standing in Another Mans Grave' sees him working in a Cold Case Unit staffed with retirees - but may be testament to the popularity of the character that Ian Rankin wrote another one.  I can't seem to empathise with the Malcolm Fox character though.

The others I like are Harry Bosch by Michael Connelly (though the alcoholic, divorced detective that is disconnected from his kids is incredibly similar to the Rebus character) and the Hole boooks by Jo Nesbo. 

Ruth Rendell also has an amazing way of getting inside the head of serial killers who look normal, or people who are paranoid (sometimes the same character) - 13 Steps Down, Live Flesh, The Rottweiler spring to mind.

Euan Uzami

Re: an apology
« Reply #39 on: June 20, 2013, 01:42:34 pm »

You have completely misunderstood me. I didn't say I liked 'style', nor that Dan Brown is nice & easy to read. Mrcharly gave you a partial list of writers who are nice & easy to read. You seem to think that I'm saying that an awful style is the same as no style. Not true! Some of the worst crap I've ever read has been by writers who were trying to show off their style. You seem to think that style must mean something fancy. Not so! Take a look at the Economist's style guide, for example. Basically, it says to keep it simple, clear, an unambiguous. That's a style - and as far as it goes, an excellent one.
ok then, for "likes style", read "is bothered about style".

Quote
BTW, not only have you misunderstood me, but it seems to me that your misunderstanding is wilful, & slightly offensive. You've lumped me in with people who think that the more mannered & elaborate writing is the better it is, despite me stating the opposite. I love clear, simple writing, the sort where there is no attempt at stylishness; writing where the story is the sole focus of attention, not the writer's skill with words. As I said, Dan Brown does not write like that. He rams his style in yer face.  He shows off (or tries to). And to make it even worse, he does it badly.                                                                                         
But you care about it. You can't abide by reading Dan Brown purely because you don't like the style - I read it purely for the substance, I don't care what the style is.
Whatever the style is, the genre that Dan Brown writes in - conspiracy - is one I find fairly entertaining and as such stories written about I find the substance of fairly intriguing (no matter how unrealistic it might be) - I read it for that purpose solely alone, I don't find the style puts me off.

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: an apology
« Reply #40 on: June 20, 2013, 01:45:57 pm »
BTW, not only have you misunderstood me, but it seems to me that your misunderstanding is wilful, & slightly offensive.

Agreed. Given the fact that Ben T asked the same question and got pretty much the same answers last time Dan Brown came up for discussion, I suspect him of trolling.

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: an apology
« Reply #41 on: June 20, 2013, 01:47:08 pm »
;D

Have you tried reading Twilight?
Yes. I did read it. But despite the ready availability (as my better half likes such trash) I have never brought myself to read any of the sequels.
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: an apology
« Reply #42 on: June 20, 2013, 01:52:36 pm »
But you care about it. You can't abide by reading Dan Brown purely because you don't like the style - I read it purely for the substance, I don't care what the style is.

Dan Brown is a hack. He's a hard-working hack but a hack none the less. His writing has no merit at all qua "writing", its only merit is as a commercial enterprise.

If you find it entertaining, that's fine. It's no worse than reading the Sun or watching EastEnders in that respect.

If that's the limit of your cultural aspirations, that's also fine, but I feel sorry for you.

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: an apology
« Reply #43 on: June 20, 2013, 02:09:22 pm »
I get the feeling that a Dan Brown novel is a decorated trope. It is somewhat akin to a cupcake. How ever fantastically (or pornographically) decorated it may be on the outside, you know that as soon as you bite into it there will be an overly thick sickly sweet icing on the top and some sort of slightly artificial tasting bland sponge underneath. It doesn't matter. Every cupcake is the same. You eat it because either you like cupcakes and don't want anything more substantial, or you are being polite, or in some cases you realise that yes, it is really just another essentially identical cupcake than can be reduced to the style guide of RDA for fat, sugar, starch and burnt crispy bits.

Dan Brown is to storytelling what a BOGOF pack of Tesco value cupcakes is to the great british bakeoff. Easily digestible, not terribly pleasant but passes the time and adds calories.

I find Dan Brown books to be ideal airline fodder. Turn the critical filter to zero, accept it as a story that is internally mostly consistent as long as you don't bring logic or science into it and eat the cupcake. Preferably with a strong cup of tea.

On the other hand I ma not very good at reading strongly characterised literature. Austen bores me. Gabriel Garcia Marquez has yet to produce a book I can finish. And Tweelight was a book that I wished I hadn't bothered to get to the end of.
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: an apology
« Reply #44 on: June 20, 2013, 02:11:38 pm »
Turn the critical filter to zero

I have a problem. I can't do this.

I can do it while watching TV, and to some extent while watching films and listening to music, but I can't do it while reading books. I'm sure this says more about me than it says about Dan Brown.

Re: an apology
« Reply #45 on: June 20, 2013, 02:21:51 pm »
If a Dan Brown book was a bicycle, it would be one of those full-suspension things with massive knobbly tyres that cost £40 from Asda. At first glance it looks really good value, with all those gears, the disc brakes, the front and rear suspension.

Contrast it to, Hemmingway, say (erm, lets pick 'For whom the bell tolls'). This is an ancient Raleigh made with 531C, down tube shifters, a few spots of rust on the frame.

When you try riding the Dan Brown bicycle, very soon bits start to fall apart. It's as heavy as an anchor and you really can't get very far on it. Most of the parts are superfluous.

The Hemmingway bicycle seems basic, stripped down, not much to it. Once you get the feel of the bike, you realise that riding this bike is a journey in itself, that the ride is the meaning and purpose. It will outlast you.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: an apology
« Reply #46 on: June 20, 2013, 02:53:46 pm »
Confusing us with your fancy highbrow metaphors isn't helpful, mrcharly. Who do you think you are, Will Self?

Mrs Pingu

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Re: an apology
« Reply #47 on: June 20, 2013, 02:55:07 pm »
I'm glad someone else feels the same way as me about cupcakes!
Do not clench. It only makes it worse.

Re: an apology
« Reply #48 on: June 20, 2013, 03:10:52 pm »
Confusing us with your fancy highbrow metaphors isn't helpful, mrcharly. Who do you think you are, Will Self?

Nah, you're getting confused mate. I haven't said anything about murder, masturbation with sprockets or compared the journey of an individual chain link round sprockets and jockey wheels to the tortured manipulation of my neurons by society.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

Eccentrica Gallumbits

  • Rock 'n' roll and brew, rock 'n' roll and brew...
Re: an apology
« Reply #49 on: June 20, 2013, 03:21:39 pm »
I'm glad someone else feels the same way as me about cupcakes!
Pretentious sickly American nonsense. What's wrong with a good old-fashioned British fairycake?
My feminist marxist dialectic brings all the boys to the yard.