Mona Lisa must have had the highway blues.

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?

Also, I believe this is going to make a fantastic movie, provided that silly lawsuit doesn’t ruin things.

35 thoughts on “Mona Lisa must have had the highway blues.

  1. Personally, I loved the book. Yeah, the prose isn’t great, but he sucks you in and forces you to get drawn along with the characters. What made me even madder was that Angels and Demons is, for all intents and purposes, the same bookwith different people and stuff, and I DIDN’T CARE! I was still sucked in! At 50 pages, I was saying, “This is the same book, dangit!” and at 100 I said, “I don’t care! It’s still really good!”

  2. […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…??]

    Bwahahahahaha! Somtimes, ProfeZor, your wit is delectable – a sip of Brut champagne…dry, effervescent and delicious.

    I read and enjoyed The DaVinci Code for what it was: a fairly predictable, wholly fictional, face-paced thriller.

    I will join your Walk of Shame in having watched National Treasure, all the while knowing it was a marketable-but-blatant-spin-off of The DaVinci Code which could be pandered to the masses while they waited, with baited breath, for the Holy Grail of Secret Society Novels to be filmed. Knowing this, I found nuggets of enjoyment in this otherwise forgettable movie (despite Nicolas Cage rather than thanks to him).

    *Sorry had to delete the first comment due to it having fearsomely bad .html tags

    • Yeah, a rip off if money = christ and that Masons = Templar knights, which would be highly offensive to even claim that either of the two pairs are even connected to begin with.

      But you weren’t intentionally being offensive, were you? It seems just ignorance for the most part.

      • I didn’t say “rip off”, I said “spin off” which has quite a different meaning. Here, I used it to mean the film National Treasure was a derivative of the “secret society, hidden meaning” base of The DaVinci Code.

        As you observed, my intention wasn’t to be offensive. I don’t think I was being ignorant, either, as I used the word “spin” instead of “rip” for a reason – but everyone interprets things differently, so perhaps you interpreted the flavor of my post to mean “rip” when I used “spin”.

      • That would be true if there weren’t other such movies WAY before the DaVinci code which had the same theme.

        Next time, don’t be an offensive smart ass, k?

      • You proved your own point – the last person I’d look to for advice on being inoffensive is you. I’ll know, in the future, not to waste my breath or time in replying to any of your posts.

      • I think it’s fair to say that in Hollywood vocab, if not history, those equivalences stand up rather well. I’m certain Hollywood believed it *was* ripping off whatever it believed The Da Vinci Code had to offer in National Treasure.

  3. Oh good! It’s about time you got a pop-culture injection. 😉 I liked it a lot, and his “Angels and Demons” too (although, being me, I was more concerned with the artwork being blown up than the loss of human life). And it’s made the Catholic Church upset, so I was all over that. But Brown’s the most uneven author I’ve ever seen–his “Digital Fortress” was a steaming pile of budgie-turds, and I have no desire to read any more of his stuff. In the same genre, I liked Lev Grossman’s “The Codex” and “The Rule of Four” by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason much better.

    Yup, the movie has serious promise–the cast is first rate and the director’s damned good too. As for the lawsuit…wonder why they’re coming out of the woodwork NOW? I mean, the thing’s been on the bestseller list for something like 140 weeks, and they’re just filing suit when there’s a movie due to release this summer? It makes my bullshit sensors twingle.

    • Apologies for interjecting…
      But I’ve truly got to say that The Rule of Four, while the writing was a little better than Brown’s, had such a terrible grasp of human interaction that it was really frustrating to read. The romance and friendship aspects of the book were irritating, although the plot itself wasn’t half bad.

      Professor Z (:D), that short review had me laughing aloud.

  4. I have yet to read TDVC, though I know it’s coming, since two of my favorite people have told me I must. I’m a pushover that way.

    But…I gotta say…”Professor Z”! By golly that sounds fine!

    Professor E-F, smiling

  5. Let me know when you get to the point where you stand up and scream at Langdon, “Buy a damn mirror!”. Internationally known cryptographer, my ass! Some of those riddles were ripped off from Highlights magazine.
    But you’re right, it’s likely to make a good movie, even if it was a crap book.

    • Yes, cryptographers and symbolologists who are too dim to grasp the obvious. And when the bank official asks for the bank account number and you expect them to say “So that’s what granddad wrote in his own blood on the floor of the Louvre” but no, we have to endure three pages of waffle to get there.

      It’s time to re-read Foucault’s pendulum

  6. Previous comment deleted because I can’t edit!

    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.

    Two words: Foucault’s Pendulum

    • I believe I’ll have to follow up the Dan Brown experience with both Foucault’s Pendulum and The Name of the Rose — both of which I own, and neither of which I’ve read. Shameful.

      • Oh, another book for you to read, because you like penguins:

        http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060304/ap_on_re_us/brf_book_flap

        “A children’s book about two male penguins that raise a baby penguin has been moved to the nonfiction section of two public library branches after parents complained it had homosexual undertones.

        The illustrated book, “And Tango Makes Three,” is based on a true story of two male penguins, named Roy and Silo, who adopted an abandoned egg at New York City’s Central Park Zoo in the late 1990s.”

      • Its not the penguin love, its the penguin parenting, because obviously, gay penguins raise their adopted children to be gay….

        Or something.

  7. I’m not too proud to say…

    …I liked it. I liked Angels & Demons, and Digital Fortress too. They’re pleasantly diverting lightweight no-brainer genre fiction, good for reading in the airport or on a plane (which is where I read the latter two).

    Oh, and the massive hoohah over the “validity” of the conspiracy theories in DVC has provided me much amusement over the last few years. It’s a novel, people! Get a grip! I’m quite certain Dan Brown is laughing himself silly all the way to the bank.

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