You’ll never guess what your beloved Lady—nay, Professor—Z is doing this frigid Saturday afternoon. Actually, you could probably guess that I’m still in bed, and listening to one of these masochistically beautiful Melancholia Mixes I keep making, but you wouldn’t have guessed that I’m reading The Da Vinci Code, now, would you?
Despite the multiple warnings away from this book I’ve received from people whose opinions are to be trusted (I can hear fsr44‘s cry now: “Don’t do it! My God, woman, you have so much to live for!!”), at my dad’s insistence I have decided to participate in this particular cultural phenomenon and read the book before seeing the movie. Let us state for the record: It is not well-written. Brown crafts his sentences using strings of clichés, then spells out the innuendo of the clichés, as if not trusting his reader to be smart enough to decode the simplest of literary languages without assistance. For example:
“I am Bezu Fache […] Captain of the Central Directoriate Judicial Police.” His tone was fitting—a gutteral rumble … like a gathering storm.
That second ellipsis is actually in the text, as if Brown anticipated the reader’s brain itching at the introduction of a menacingly masculine chief of police who speaks in a “gutteral rumble” […it reminds me of something, a mood or something, you know, not good but, like, bad—bad like something bad about to happen—what could it be…??] until our narrative guide arrives to help us out of this terribly difficult allusive connundrum [ah yes, of course, that’s what it sounds like: “a gathering storm.” How clever].
So, yes, at moments like this (and there are many), I feel like I’m reading Remedial Thriller Fiction. But I didn’t pick this book up expecting to be bowled over by the prose; I picked it up because, thanks to Alias, I’m a sucker for these secret-society-with-secret-codes-and-other-secrets-pertaining-to-the-oh-so-secret-lives-of-Renaissance-artistic-and-scientific-geniuses narratives. So much so that I actually watched National Treasure a few weeks ago (you know, that movie starring Nicholas Cage and Some Blonde German Chick No One Has Ever Heard Of in which George Washington or some other famous Mason has hidden a treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence—yeah, that one) and let me tell you, once you’ve done that, you have conceded all rights to shame. Also, I cannot stand not being in on the secret, especially such a secret secret secret as this kind of narrative promises, especially when every other person in America knows it, including my sister, who ate this book up over Christmas several years ago, then disappeared with the book back to Rochester before I could happen to just, you know, steal a casual glance to see what all the fuss was about. I know, it’s the kind of curiosity that’s going to get this cat killed one day, or at least really bored and disappointed (see above re: National Treasure). But in the case of The Da Vinci Code, what my dad promised is true: I’m reading it quickly, and I keep turning the pages, and even with all my cynicism and better judgment intact, I haven’t tired of it yet. So that’s something, right?