Author Topic: an apology  (Read 10233 times)

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: an apology
« Reply #50 on: June 20, 2013, 03:36:11 pm »
My original thesis, for the record, wasn't really that Dan Brown's books were bad. I wasn't making a judgement call, it's not like I'm going to be winning any literary prizes any time soon, so I probably shouldn't criticise.

I had previously made the point that I felt that he could pull off a reasonable non-demanding read. On attempting to read it, I discovered that I was wrong, and for that error, I was asking forgiveness. I'm not really a highbrow chap, in fact much of what I do is guided by the mantra "what would Chuck Norris do" and as mentioned I find deep philosophical meaning in stuffed crust pizza. I'd read Dan Brown with a kind of demented pride.

Except it went wrong. I discovered that I had pushed myself too far. It was dire. I figure a decent – even lowbrow read – needs the following things, and not all of them:

1. Good plot. It needs a hook. It needs a story. It's got to flow. Given this, you can get away will all manner of sins.

2. Good characterisation. This helps with (1), of course, but it gets you involved. Even if the plot is flapping about in the wind, you'll still care enough to keep reading.

3. Good writing. This is nice, but oddly optional. Even a workaday assemblage of words will take to the air if there's a decent plot under the wings. In the absence of a good plot however, even fantastic writing just becomes a slog (this is the problem I have with a lot of literary stuff, to be honest).

All said, I'm happy for anyone to read, watch, or do what they want. I just reserve the right to take the piss out of them.
!nataS pihsroW

Euan Uzami

Re: an apology
« Reply #51 on: June 20, 2013, 03:48:43 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.
...
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.

Well, I responded to this thread in an attempt to find out whether the latest Dan Brown book was along the similar lines of the others, or worse.
In other words, I'm asking is it merely bad in the same way that the others are, or is it bad on a whole new level. In other words, is it likely that even me, a cultural prole, will find it  bad.

But given that it's obviously far too unfashionable on here to admit to coming remotely close to finding any merit in any of the books whatsoever - and more specifically, the fact that the whole thread started off as, and appears to be continuing as, a competition for who can find the most elaborate metaphor or the most descriptive analogy to describe how dire they are ("I find it worse than you", "no I find it worst!"), it seems I'm unlikely to get an answer, because that would involve someone admitting to having read the others, so I'll just read it and make my own mind up.

HTFB

  • The Monkey and the Plywood Violin (RIP)
Re: an apology
« Reply #52 on: June 20, 2013, 04:45:15 pm »
Easy to find copies - the charity shops are stuffed with Dan Brown.
They're not, you know. Second-hand paperbacks are a low density store of value at the best of times, and you have to be ruthless. An economist knows she'll never find a £20 note lying on the pavement, because if one were there somebody would have picked it up already. Similarly, there is no point holding copies of Dan Brown because anybody who would possibly buy it off you has already read the stuff. Nobody ever reads it twice. Almost all of the millions of people who will ever want to read it bought it new, or waited to get it from the library, or inherited it from a friend. The few remaining possible customers have got it from the charity shop next door already. Or they paid 10p at a car boot sale, or they rooted it out for free from your bins when you threw out three other copies yesterday.

You can't rely on the great online marketplace to expand the base of the pyramid, either. It goes for a penny on Amazon -- plus £2.80 postage, but it's too fat a book to go letter-rate and so costs £2.60 to post as a second class parcel. Envelopes are 6p each in bulk, so that leaves 15p for you and your overheads.

Assume you stack your Da Vinci Codes four foot deep across half your storage---the rest of the space being needed for your gnomelike army of volunteers to fish the books out. Each of them has a volume of 48.4 cubic inches. So, stacked, that's 14 square feet the thousand. Doubling £3/sq ft /an, which is the very cheapest commercial space I can find on Rightmove, to account for your other bills, your 15p will pay for its shelfspace for a mere 21 months.

There are 2500 other sellers on Amazon optimistic enough to be offering a DVC ahead of you, so you can break even on a donated Dan Brown if the national demand for second-hand DVCs bought online averages four copies a day, including Sundays. It doesn't.

And you're going to be given two more copies tomorrow, and two the day after that, until the end of time.

clarion

  • Tyke
Re: an apology
« Reply #53 on: June 20, 2013, 04:52:40 pm »
Interesting theory, but, as a regular in charity shops, and browser of the bookshelves, I can confirm that I have seen Dan Browns and 50 Shades... in almost every one of the shops I've been in the last few weeks, in Rose Hill, Carshalton, West Hampstead, Croydon, Sutton, Emsworth, and probably other places as well.
Getting there...

Eccentrica Gallumbits

  • Rock 'n' roll and brew, rock 'n' roll and brew...
Re: an apology
« Reply #54 on: June 20, 2013, 04:58:56 pm »

Well, I responded to this thread in an attempt to find out whether the latest Dan Brown book was along the similar lines of the others, or worse.
In other words, I'm asking is it merely bad in the same way that the others are, or is it bad on a whole new level. In other words, is it likely that even me, a cultural prole, will find it  bad.

But given that it's obviously far too unfashionable on here to admit to coming remotely close to finding any merit in any of the books whatsoever - and more specifically, the fact that the whole thread started off as, and appears to be continuing as, a competition for who can find the most elaborate metaphor or the most descriptive analogy to describe how dire they are ("I find it worse than you", "no I find it worst!"), it seems I'm unlikely to get an answer, because that would involve someone admitting to having read the others, so I'll just read it and make my own mind up.
I've read several and thought they were almost exactly the same. The Da Vinci Code is slightly more interesting than Angels and Demons, and if you can ignore the fact it's terrible, it's a good page turner. Digital Fortress and the one about the ice are both terrible and boring. I'd read Inferno if I was trapped in a Greek holiday apartment in torrential rain for two weeks and there were no handy spoons to remove my eyes with, but not in any other circumstances.
My feminist marxist dialectic brings all the boys to the yard.


citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: an apology
« Reply #55 on: June 20, 2013, 05:25:49 pm »
In other words, I'm asking is it merely bad in the same way that the others are, or is it bad on a whole new level. In other words, is it likely that even me, a cultural prole, will find it  bad.

You don't need to read it to answer that - it will be exactly the same as everything else he has written. If you like his previous books, you'll probably like this one. If you don't like his previous books, you probably won't like this one. Dan Brown is not the kind of writer who suddenly develops a hitherto hidden taste for modernist stream-of-consciousness or Elizabethan blank verse.

Quote
I'll just read it and make my own mind up.

Always the best policy.

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: an apology
« Reply #56 on: June 20, 2013, 06:13:11 pm »
I don't fear metamorphs, even after I read a book that was supposed to be about the fear of them.
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

Re: an apology
« Reply #57 on: June 21, 2013, 12:05:57 pm »
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.
If that's how you feel, then fine - for you. To me, it's like music, or song. If I can choose between two performances of the same song, one by someone who just sings it straight, in a good, clear, strong voice, or a poor singer who is often out of tune, but still insists on attempting fancy flourishes in every line, then obviously I prefer the first to the one who sings like Dan Brown writes.

From what you've said,  you'd prefer the second performance, because I've said I prefer the other one & you reject the opinions of those who think that there's any merit in doing things well. Will you also buy a lead BSO burdened with bling, because I prefer a nice light good quality bike kept as simple as possible?

I think Citoyen may have sussed you.
"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 #58 on: June 21, 2013, 01:37:15 pm »
..
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.



Me too.  And I have even read entire 'works' by Jeffrey Archer (not something I feel I need to do again, tho').  A far better writer*, if not person, than Dan Brown.

*that's not actually saying much, as praise goes.
Sic transit and all that..

Vince

  • Can't climb; won't climb
Re: an apology
« Reply #59 on: June 21, 2013, 02:56:09 pm »
I was given a pre-read copy of DVC. I stopped reading it at the point I ran out of pre-turned pages. It was carp. Never looked at another Dan Brown since.

Looking forward to reading something by Ian though.
216km from Marsh Gibbon

Steph

  • Fast. Fast and bulbous. But fluffy.
Re: an apology
« Reply #60 on: June 21, 2013, 11:15:06 pm »
I gave up on a book recently. The author can actually weite decent prose, but has decided to abandon that in favour of pretentious willy- and thesaurus-waving. Goodbye, Mr Donaldson.

Now, I write fiction. I have written a lot of it, by some standards, it has been well-received, and I have certain values that I hold to.
My first-person or 'point of view' narratives are not omniscient. The world is an iceberg, mostly hidden from our view, and a first-person narrative should reflect that fact. A PoV narrative, which is written in the third person but told from the viewpoint of a central character, should be the same.Brown ignores this.

Character is the thing. Unless reading for the 'fun' of watching cars crash, most readers engage better if they can find some sort of feeling for a character. That is what makes soap operas so addictive for many people. A good author has a huge back story for every character, which helps ensure said 'person' acts consistently, or at least in keeping with their origins.

"Show, don't tell" is a maxim worth obeying. Let the events, let the plot carry the reader along--don't stop to have the villain or hero declaim.


And as for George Lucas and his ability to come up with stories, they were generally someone else's, a fact which was noted by the SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) when Lucas threatened to sue the Battlestar people for plagiarism. And his dialogue is SHITE.
Mae angen arnaf i byw, a fe fydda'i

Re: an apology
« Reply #61 on: June 22, 2013, 01:07:54 am »
3. Good writing. This is nice, but oddly optional. Even a workaday assemblage of words will take to the air if there's a decent plot under the wings. In the absence of a good plot however, even fantastic writing just becomes a slog (this is the problem I have with a lot of literary stuff, to be honest).
I used to read a lot of SF which wasn't exactly well-written, but carried one along because the author had a good imagination & established characters. I have the same problem as you with some literary stuff, where writers imagine that style is an adequate substitute for substance. Sorry, but no, unless you're writing a very short piece, e.g a poem, where you can engage the reader with the imagery your words generate & end it before they get bored.

And Steph is dead right about point of view, character, & 'show, not tell'. Re. the last, characterisation does not require any introspection on the page (though it can be OK, in the right context). 'Show, not tell', works well.
"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

Euan Uzami

Re: an apology
« Reply #62 on: June 24, 2013, 10:17:14 pm »
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.
If that's how you feel, then fine - for you. To me, it's like music, or song. If I can choose between two performances of the same song, one by someone who just sings it straight, in a good, clear, strong voice, or a poor singer who is often out of tune, but still insists on attempting fancy flourishes in every line, then obviously I prefer the first to the one who sings like Dan Brown writes.

From what you've said,  you'd prefer the second performance, because I've said I prefer the other one & you reject the opinions of those who think that there's any merit in doing things well. Will you also buy a lead BSO burdened with bling, because I prefer a nice light good quality bike kept as simple as possible?

I think Citoyen may have sussed you.


What you like has no bearing on what I like, don't flatter yourself!

If there is a writer that writes about the same substance as what Dan Brown does but in a better style then I'd love to hear it because I probably would like it.  I have started inferno and like it.
I can't explain why other than its just the atmosphere that is conjured up, nothing to do with the characters or the prose.
 You either get it or you don't.  Maybe I would like it to be written in a better style and I like it despite the style, not because of it.
In terms of the characters, it's like it's written from each character's point of view, so you empathize with being them, rather than knowing them.


I tried one of the books ("the little sister") by an author that mrcharly recommended as "simple story telling" and find it impossibly cryptic.  I'll post a concrete example when I'm not on mobile.

Re: an apology
« Reply #63 on: June 25, 2013, 02:49:38 am »
I tried one of the books ("the little sister") by an author that mrcharly recommended as "simple story telling" and find it impossibly cryptic.  I'll post a concrete example when I'm not on mobile.

I'm curious as to why. Curious enough that when I read this I googled it, and found a clearly dodgy (imperfectly OCRd) PDF, and started reading. Sure, I've only got through the first 25 pages or so, but so far I haven't come across anything that's especially cryptic.

Fair enough, Chandler has a fairly economic style, and doesn't spell everything out, so there are some blanks you have to fill in, but surely that's what gets the imagination working. True, he sometimes goes off on flights of fancy - a bluebottle that likes Pagliacci? - but they last about a line and a half. Me, I find it atmospheric, I like the style, and I guess I'll keep reading until I've finished it.

As for Dan Brown, I've got through several of his books. I'm happy enough to suspend disbelief sufficiently to find them reasonably fluent, reasonably pacy plots, and ignore the inconsistencies and the unconvincing bits. But I do have a problem with the writing. I read fast enough that bad writing doesn't normally bother me too much, but I find that DB's stuff actually gets in the way of the story-telling. He throws in fancy stuff for the sake of it, and it doesn't add anything; instead, it just complicates what ought to be a fast-paced conspiracy thriller.


Euan Uzami

Re: an apology
« Reply #64 on: June 25, 2013, 07:36:56 am »
Okay an example quote.
"... He used to wear a Moustache but mother made him cut it off. She said ..."
"Don't tell me.  The minister needed it to stuff a cushion".

Ok, a) who's "the minister", that character hasn't been introduced, he's just implied,
More importantly, what's Marlowe trying to say? That her brother's got a massive Moustache? That her mother's got a cushion-stuffing addiction? (by the fact that she takes it as an insult against her? ) If either of those,  why is he making such a pop - why is that relevant to the story about her trying to get him to help her find her brother?
If something else, what? Cos it's too cryptic for me to figure out.
I feel like I need to know in order to understand the book.
I got onto the bit where he tries to start finding him but got completely lost and switched it off. Maybe not helped by the fact that it was an audio book in the car but if it is "nice simple story telling" it shouldn't matter.
You could tell me the answer to that one but it would be a single fish rather than a fishing rod.

In contrast Dan Brown's description of a moustache: "he had a big bushy moustache".
Fine.  It's obvious what that means,  I can proceed.

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: an apology
« Reply #65 on: June 25, 2013, 07:56:15 am »
Okay an example quote.
"... He used to wear a Moustache but mother made him cut it off. She said ..."
"Don't tell me.  The minister needed it to stuff a cushion".

Aw, what a great line. Reminds me exactly why I love Chandler. How can gems like that not make you instantly break out into a broad grin?

Quote
Ok, a) who's "the minister", that character hasn't been introduced, he's just implied,

There is no minister. You're over-thinking it. The key phrase here is "mother made him cut it off". That's a pretty damning judgment of his character, whoever he is. And it tells you a lot about the attitude of the people speaking about him too. Dan Brown would say half as much in twice as many words.

Quote
If either of those,  why is he making such a pop - why is that relevant to the story about her trying to get him to help her find her brother?

It's verbal sparring. Each character is trying to demonstrate that they're smarter than the other with their wisecracks, show how tough and sassy they are. It's a form of foreplay. Can you not smell the sexual tension?

Re: an apology
« Reply #66 on: June 25, 2013, 08:42:47 am »
the thing that is *great* about chandler is that you can read the story on so many levels.

Just enjoy a good detective story. Breeze through it, listen to the wisecracking detectives.

Read a bit deeper. "Stuff a cushion"? You normally stuff a cushion with horsehair, so maybe the character is horselike. They are obviously dominated by their mother who is devoutly religious and would do anything the minister says.

I like a writer who leaves it up to me to build a mental picture of the characters. DB describes *everything* about the characters, forcing you to have his picture. Fine if you like that. Not my cup of tea.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

Re: an apology
« Reply #67 on: June 25, 2013, 09:34:38 am »
Marlowe is very hard, very funny and very tired. That line sums him up, he's irreverent, has a problem with authority, and wisecracks under stress. he's also (rightly)  deeply suspicious of Orfamy Quest and anticipates what she's going to say because he can tell she's spinning a tale. Marlowe is seeing the world for what it is and hating it. Would Dan Brown ever write:

Quote
"The room was full of silence like a fallen cake."
?

mattc

  • n.b. have grown beard since photo taken
    • Didcot Audaxes
Re: an apology
« Reply #68 on: June 25, 2013, 09:52:40 am »
If this thread turns into a Marlowe love-in, it will have served some purpose  :thumbsup:
Has never ridden RAAM
---------
No.11  Because of the great host of those who dislike the least appearance of "swank " when they travel the roads and lanes. - From Kuklos' 39 Articles

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: an apology
« Reply #69 on: June 25, 2013, 09:58:55 am »
Well, it's made me want to go out and buy The Little Sister right now - it's one of the few Chandler novels I haven't read.

The Long Goodbye is my favourite. And Terry Lennox stumbling drunk out of a nightclub and into his car is probably my favourite opening paragraph in all fiction. The pathos of his whole life summed up in a brief moment.

Euan Uzami

Re: an apology
« Reply #70 on: June 25, 2013, 11:04:43 pm »
the thing that is *great* about chandler is that you can read the story on so many levels.

Just enjoy a good detective story. Breeze through it, listen to the wisecracking detectives.

Read a bit deeper. "Stuff a cushion"? You normally stuff a cushion with horsehair, so maybe the character is horselike. They are obviously dominated by their mother who is devoutly religious and would do anything the minister says.

I like a writer who leaves it up to me to build a mental picture of the characters. DB describes *everything* about the characters, forcing you to have his picture. Fine if you like that. Not my cup of tea.

Well I think it's the writer's job to tell ME what the characters are like, not mine to imagine it. I could just imagine the whole thing and not even bother with the book in the first place.
I think the "wise crack" as you call it might well be that but if it was it's unrealistic imho. There's no way someone would come out with that to someone they've just met, to both have a pop at her brother's horselike-ness, her mother's  religiousness all wrapped up in an attempt at flirting. I think if you are supposed to read that into it then it's a fantasy novel basically.

Re: an apology
« Reply #71 on: June 25, 2013, 11:07:03 pm »
the thing that is *great* about chandler is that you can read the story on so many levels.

Just enjoy a good detective story. Breeze through it, listen to the wisecracking detectives.

Read a bit deeper. "Stuff a cushion"? You normally stuff a cushion with horsehair, so maybe the character is horselike. They are obviously dominated by their mother who is devoutly religious and would do anything the minister says.

I like a writer who leaves it up to me to build a mental picture of the characters. DB describes *everything* about the characters, forcing you to have his picture. Fine if you like that. Not my cup of tea.

Well I think it's the writer's job to tell ME what the characters are like, not mine to imagine it. I could just imagine the whole thing and not even bother with the book in the first place.
I think the "wise crack" as you call it might well be that but if it was it's unrealistic imho. There's no way someone would come out with that to someone they've just met, to both have a pop at her brother's horselike-ness, her mother's  religiousness all wrapped up in an attempt at flirting. I think if you are supposed to read that into it then it's a fantasy novel basically.

"Fine if you like that. Not my cup of tea."
<i>Marmite slave</i>

Euan Uzami

Re: an apology
« Reply #72 on: June 25, 2013, 11:09:09 pm »
... You normally stuff a cushion with horsehair, so maybe the character is horselike. They are obviously dominated by their mother who is devoutly religious and would do anything the minister says....

This, what you've done above,  is the working out that you have to do in order to solve what I feel is basically a riddle. This solving of a riddle is what I don't want to have to bother doing, I want a story not a riddle ore a cryptic crossword.
 Just as long as you understand what I mean we can agree to disagree.

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: an apology
« Reply #73 on: June 25, 2013, 11:27:11 pm »
Well I think it's the writer's job to tell ME what the characters are like, not mine to imagine it.

The Big Sleep: 177 pages.
Inferno: 480 pages.

No wonder Dan Brown's books are so long if he fills them with interminable descriptions of what people look like. Sounds pretty dull to me.

Euan Uzami

Re: an apology
« Reply #74 on: June 25, 2013, 11:39:18 pm »
Well I think it's the writer's job to tell ME what the characters are like, not mine to imagine it.

The Big Sleep: 177 pages.
Inferno: 480 pages.

No wonder Dan Brown's books are so long if he fills them with interminable descriptions of what people look like. Sounds pretty dull to me.

Guardian crossword, probably about 10cm by 10cm of ONE page.  Makes about as much sense.