Tuesday, May 16, 2006

books for lemmings


A very talented writer/thinker/editor who was once my boss made a point of holding out as long as possible before reading a single Harry Potter book. She read the reviews, she participated in the conversations on Culture and Literacy, probably even made allusions to the series in the way that I'm told the Gilmore Girls drops pop culture references (though I've never seen the show). Still, she refused to stoop to the level of reading what was in her eyes "pulp." Blame it on all those years working towards a Ph.D. in an ivory tower English department.

I'm countering my own literary snob and finally began The Da Vinci Code. What better place to begin a book like that than on an airplane? It's interesting to finally look at the object that has cast such a long shadow, like seeing the silhouette of a monster creep around the corner only to discover it's just a halfling named Sam out to defend his best friend against an army of goblins.

So far, so good. It's entertaining, a fast read, and the teacher/student episodes are hysterical for anyone who has ever taught real people. It reminds me of a watered-down Foucault's Pendulum. I wonder what Eco has to say about it. I know what the Vatican says about it.

As far as I can tell, the biggest problem is mistaking fiction for historical fact--whether art, architecture, religion, or intellectual history in Europe. But like Harry Potter, I think any book that gets people interested in reading and interested in talking about reading (as well as the vast field of liberal arts) can't possibly be all bad.

7 Comments:

Blogger Stormmaster said...

Agreed. The Da Vinci Code is just another nice - well written - novel.
The Vatican's essentially acting against its own interest. They gave this not so special book even more publicity than it had before.
Now even those that might not have been interested are reading it or watching the upcoming movie, which I assume, will drop a lot of the pseudo historical facts for great action sequences.

I like the posts title.

1:20 AM  
Blogger United We Lay said...

The church has always had the problem of distinguishing fact from fiction. They're afriad to have people question any beliefs for fear that they will begin thinging for themselves. What a horrile idea!

5:07 AM  
Blogger James said...

My comment disappeared. I'll try again.

I think people (who feel they need to be snobbish) make it a point to not like things they feel they shouldn't like. Then they often miss out on things that actually quite fun.

It reminds me of film school when everyone was expected to only like the "important" films. People who bought into that couldn't understand those of us who liked even the (whisper) regular (/whisper) films.

8:43 AM  
Blogger Notsocranky Yankee said...

I read Angels and Demons before the DaVinci Code. It takes place in Rome, one of my favorite cities, and I loved reading about places I've seen. It was entertaining, but the end was a little crazy. I enjoyed the DaVinci Code also. I couldn't believe there were books written DEBUNKING it! The book was fiction!

I agree with stormmaster, the church and the religious zealouts who don't know the meaning of fiction, gave it a lot of publicity. The Catholic church should be more concerned about the actions of its priests than what's written in an entertaining novel. It's pitiful.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Colleen said...

i tried reading the da vinci code while i was stranded in ann arbor during the blackout a few years ago. couldn't get into it.

12:57 PM  
Blogger Old Man Rich said...

Plane trips and sunbeds by pools are the only places where its not only socially accepted that you can read crap, its acually required.

Not read the da vinci Code yet. Or the one who's theme it didn't (sic) steal. And since I can't afford a holiday at the moment it will have to wait. But a hot tip to save money is don't buy all five harry potter books, just read the first one five times.

2:43 AM  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

I haven't read it, but I'm completely unsurprised by the brouhaha.

How many people in this country subscribe to the theory that every single word in the Bible is THE TRUTH?

On some level, it's a bunch of people defending one piece of fiction from another.

Yeharr

3:56 AM  

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