Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Ok so I've decided to succumb to the call of the zeitgeist and write a blog. If anyone is reading, I want to assure you that I feel very very dirty doing this. And as long as we're on the subject of dirty secrets, I'd like to take this time to reveal another one: I liked the Da Vinci Code. Not the movie, the book. It seems the popular thing now is to bash Dan Brown's literary credentials. Everyone and their mother can now tell you that while Dan Brown writes a great page turner, his actual ability as a writer is virtually non-existent. I'm not quite sure when everyone in the country became such a perceptive literary critic. Up until this week I didn't even think most people could read. What does it mean to be a "bad" writer? Having attended the Professional Writing Program at USC, I encountered many of them. Some qualities of bad writing for me include: continuity errors, that is, things that just don't make any sense, extraneous prose, sections that don't move the story, bad grammar and spelling, unrealistic dialogue, self-indulgent conceits, and being boring. While I didn't read the Da Vinci Code critically so much as for entertainment value, I didn't discover a whole lot of these problems either. I think that people assume that just because a story is entertaining and reads fast, the writing is bad. Which is sad, because the corollary is that for a book to be written well, it has to be slow, plodding, and boring, and I think that today's educational system promotes this concept, pushing "classics" on students without putting them in any context which might cause a young person to find them interesting. Dan Brown may be no Hemingway, but he wrote a story that was not only accepted by a major publisher, but was then devoured by millions of people, in a culture that does not exactly put reading at a premium. In my mind, that's something that takes talent. If you don't agree, you try it.