May 23, 2006

The Da Vinci Manifesto

Dear Dan Brown,

I have said it before and I will say it again: "You are a genius, my brother!"

I thought Angels and Demons was good, but you truly saved the best for The Da Vinci Code. Who would have thought that an albino monk would make such a vile villain? Who would have thought that a Harvard symbologist would be such a perfect protaganist? And to top it all off, who would have thought that the passive voice could be used so frequently in one novel? Certainly not me or Toni Morrison for that matter. Sure, Beloved topped the New York Times' booklist for the best American novel published in the past 25 years, but Toni is no Dan Brown. (A fact that makes her green with envy, I'm sure.)

And so, let me be the first to say that I am absolutely appalled that The Da Vinci Code was not nominated on the list. If it makes you feel better, the film version of Beloved earned $23 million in the box office while the film version of Da Vinci scored over $85 mil in the opening weekend alone. If I was you, I would contact the judges who compiled the list and ask them to reconsider. They need to realize that they have made a gross error in overlooking your magnum opus. Cases in point:

1.) The Re-telling of History Factor. Thank you for giving Catholics, and all Christians for that matter, a good thrashing. It's silly for them to believe in the divinity of Christ because that is so, like, 4th century. Honestly, Christians should look to you as a modern-day Martin Luther. (Except you use your book for financial gain.)

And bravo on your research concerning the Roman Empire and the early stages of Christianity. I liked how you purposely ignored Constantine's converstion and instead focused on his baptism. It's so good of you to pick and choose historical dates and events to weave your own version of history. That makes it easier on your readers, many of whom are ignorant of Roman history and thus rely on your novel to tutor them.

Concerning the supposed tension between Christians and pagans, oh Dan, you rascally devil! You entirely fabricated a war between these two groups to strengthen your argument in Da Vinci. What a sly one! Little do your readers know that no wars existed between Christians and pagans in the decades preceding Constantine's rule. In fact, it was the other way around. Pagan emperors like Caracalla and Diocletian were the ones doing the persecuting. But I'm sure that is something you just overlooked. After all, you are not a "real historian," meaning you don't have a PhD. Those academics are so stuffy and elitist anyway! Who needs them and their carefully-researched monographs?

2.) The Novel-as-a-Movie-Script Factor. For decades, movie-makers have struggled to transform books into movie scripts. It's a long and hard process and one that is fraught with failure. More often than not, excellent books are butchered when they are translated onto the big screen. (Possession, anyone?)


But you do a kind favor, Dan, when you write your novels like a movie manuscript. The short chapters in Da Vinci mimic the quick scene changes in a thriller and the dialogue in the book is so predictable and cheesy that it practically wrote itself into movie form. And don't get me started on the two-dimensional characters who are so easily translated into standard movie archetypes: Robert Langdon as the intelligent protagonist, Sophie Neveu as the pretty French ingenue, Silas as the freakish henchman with a lot of emotional baggage, and Sir Teabing as the innocent friend-turned villain (didn't see that one coming).

You cut out the middle-man, Dan! Screenwriters will be out of a job soon if you keep churning out books like this. And Da Vinci has changed the novel as a genre. No longer will novels be judged by their artistic merit, but by their earning potential in Hollywood. What a relief! I can't wait for the blessed day when books will become obsolete. Thank you, Mr. Brown, for taking us a step further to this goal.

3.) The French Factor. Sexy Sophie Neveu, played by the doe-eyed Audrey Tatou in the film, reminds Americans that the French actually do have something to offer other than croissants and berets. The French may be snotty scalawags when it comes to international politics, but they sure have some pretty dames. And not only are French women beautiful and sophisticated, they also happen to be living descendants of Jesus Christ.

Americans who hate the French now must own up to the fact that they have something we don't---Jesus babies. If the Da Vinci movie can't build bridges between the U.S. and France, then I don't know what will. But I have faith in Dan Brown and his limitless powers of persuasion.

So there you have it: three excellent reasons why The Da Vinci Code trumps any other work of American fiction in the last 25 years.

Of course, there are some literary critics who would decry the compilation of such a list. Since the 1950s, some critics have questioned whether or not the novel is dead. Your book, Mr. Brown, finally proves that, yes indeed, the novel has sputtered, crawled into a hole, and died.

But is this necesssarily a bad thing? In your eyes, I'm sure it isn't.

Sincerely,
A Fan


3 comments:

  1. Gee, and I thought I was a cynical literary snob. You've got me beat in spades. I didn't think Da Vinci was a well-written book, by any stretch of the imagination, but I didn't really care. I knew what it was when I picked it up - popular fiction a la Dean Koontz, Tom Clancy, James Patterson, etc. but with a little pseudo art history mixed in. Comparing it to great literature is like comparing a Hallmark card to T.S. Eliot. Hardly a fair comparison.

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  2. I agree with travis.

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  3. Haha! I didn't mean for the blog entry to turn into a scathing review of The Da Vinci Code, but somehow it did. Perhaps I am more of a cynic that I thought? That's something I should work on!

    I probably need to write another entry concerning the merits of the book because I think it definitely has them. Balance is a good thing...

    As for the current post, I didn't intend to compare Da Vinci to great literary masterpieces. Da Vinci and Beloved are in completely different genres and it is fruitless to compare the two.

    My main beef with The Da Vinci Code is its historical inaccuracy. I know the book isn't meant to be a historical monograph, but I am an ardent lover of history and I don't like when it is slandered. Granted, the book is a work of fiction and should not be taken as truth, but the media attention the book has inspired demonstrates that some readers have correlated Da Vinci with historical fact.

    But the discussion of history is always a good thing. I'll give Brown kudos for that.

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