Tuesday, December 28, 2004

A Snob is Me

As I mentioned in the last entry, I'm reading Dan Brown's "Angels & Demons." Now I know like, a gazillion people live for this guy and his (slightly less) popular "The Da Vinci Code" but come on, I mean, come on... It's not revolutionary. Tom Robbins has some wacky religious ephiphanies between the covers of his books. This one's just, well, it's average. Not mind-blowing. It's like one of those SAT books (see "Tooth and Nail") where it's a thinly disguised reference book masquerading as an action-adventure. At least "Tooth and Nail" is honest enough to put all the multi-syllabic words in bold and link them to a glossary.

Don't get me wrong. This sort of thing has value. For one, it makes you feel virtuous. You walk away feeling like you've learned something and had a good time to boot. That's awesome! More books should do that. Especially books for kids in junior high, which seems to be the reading level you need to have achieved in order to read this book.

To be absolutely fair, it's meant to be fun. I get that. But then why are so many people fawning over it, cradling it close, making pilgrimages to crumbling churches in Europe just so they can see the cupola where such-and-such happened... It's so they can feel even smarter, without the hassle of actually knowing anything in context.

There's another benefit. The book targets an audience that might never have heard of Bernini or the Pantheon. There it serves a purpose. And as I continue to read it, I feel almost guilty that with each page I want to hurl it across the room. I want to tear it apart and poke its virtual eyes out. And then I feel even worse, because I'm a snob. Only snobs could hate a book that everyone else in the world loves with reckless abandonment.

Since you asked... I hate that everything has to be over-explained and rehashed. Someone might forget who Bernini was in the ten-page span since his work was last explained. I hate that nothing happens. I'm 400 pages in and it's a wild goose chase. Mostly the author just takes the reader on a (action-packed) tour of Italy. Hey, we're virtual tourists! Isn't that veird? I hate that there are hundreds of paragraphs that are two words long. I hate that the word Christian was misspelled once. (Okay that's just nit-picky.) But the biggest strike I hold against this book: I sympathize with the villain. I want the bad guys to win. You have no idea how badly.

Well, I've got a hundred pages left. Maybe something awesome happens right before the end. Like a twist or something. That'd kick ass. Or maybe right when I get to the last page? Some new-fangled brain-washing device activates and my mind cleanses itself of impure thoughts. I'll be sure to keep you posted.

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