Well, not exactly. Grumpy Old Bookman links to a post highly critical of Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian
. Here it is: Thomas's demolition job on The Historian
. Thomas says the writing is "more noticeably bad than Dan Brown's writing." That may be true of the writing, but Brown's Dick and Jane style is the least of the problems with The Da Vinci Code
. Brown's is, after all, the book that has a character declaring that what makes English such a pure language is the relative paucity in it of words derived from Latin.
Pure language? Yikes. Does he say that it has few words derived from the German, French, American Indian and Japanese as well?ReplyDelete
No, he confines himself to Latin. Then again, this a book with a giant albino sharpshooter as a villain. Albinism, of course, is usually accompanied by poor eyesight.ReplyDelete
I read the Thomas critique of "The Historian" and then I read many of the comments in the Grumpy Old Bookman. What struck me was that so many of the comments took Thomas to task for reading the novel so carefully. As much as to say that he was being unfair for demanding that the writer be consistent, grammatical, logical, and precise in choice of language. As much as to say, Who cares if the novel is sloppily written if it's so terrific?ReplyDelete
Yes, Arthur, that is odd, isn't it? I certainly don't think it's too much to ask of an author that she use words correctly.ReplyDelete
Actually, speaking as an editor, isn't it the job of a good editor to help the author by ensuring accuracy of grammar and language? This certainly applies in journal editing (my own experience).ReplyDelete
Yes, Maxine, that's sure is what editors are for, but line editors -- as we call them -- seem to be an endangered species in the book publishing world (I used to be one myself). I reviewed a book a couple of years ago -- a pretty good book, actually -- that had the composer Rossini's first name spelled wrong -- on the cover!ReplyDelete
I'll hand it to Brown, he managed to write something I could read while my brain was turned off. I've been accused of being a snob, elitist, a sarcistic bore, and what not, but I read Brown's book so uncritically that I enjoyed it. I suppose it's because I don't have any particular skill at picking up factual errors, like the one you point out about albinism.ReplyDelete
One thing that caught my eye, and which I found funny, though I can't remember much about it now, was that one of the "clues" had to do with the fact that a verse that had to be analysed was written in something called "iambic pentameter". Apparently no one told Brown that ninety percent of English poetry before the twentieth century was composed in this meter.
Regarding editing, I suppose my exasperation was misplaced. It is the job of a good editor to ensure tighter prose, but from what I've heard, publishers no longer want this from their editors -- and Frank's last comment seems to support this -- so writers increasingly have to depend on themselves, or their friends and family, to catch the sort of mistakes and general sloppiness we find in Kostova's writing. Although I didn't say so in the blog post, I was just as exasperated with publishers that they should rush to publish something like that, and pay so much money for it, money which could have gone towards so many other more deserving writers.
Hi Thomas: I had forgotten that iambic pentameter bit. There's also the one about Leonardo's mirror handwriting. I took the book around to colleagues and asked them to look at the page and tell me what they thought it was. Unanimously, they said mirror-writing. But the Brown character, who is so puzzled over it, is supposed to be a Leonardo expert -- who would certainly have known that about Leonardo's notebooks. Still, I have to agree with you about the book. If you sort of let it go in one eye and out the other, it is, despite its absurdities, a diverting read.ReplyDelete