Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Dan Brown Let Me Down

There are many reasons why I glad that I'm no longer working for Waterstone's, but if I started listing them I'd probably sound like a bitter old tart.

So let's just pick one reason: I can completely ignore the new Dan Brown book, which is being released in two weeks' time:

I see that at least one branch of Waterstone's is opening at midnight. In a local newspaper interview, the branch manager commented:

"The latest Dan Brown novel will undoubtedly be the biggest selling book of 2009."

"We already have hundreds of pre-orders for it, and have been taking pre-orders since the day the new book was announced many months ago."

"Thanks to the phenomenal success of his other books and subsequent smash-hit films, most notably The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, there has been an enormous amount of hype surrounding the new release. We’re really excited to be a part of it all."

'We're really excited to be a part of it all'?

I hope that the motive for this robotic, lobotomised answer is either fear or ambition. If he really is excited, then all hope is lost.

This isn't just blind prejudice. Five years ago I bought The Da Vinci Code in an airport bookshop, as somebody had recommended it to me. As the plane hit 30,000 feet, I realised that I had been sold a dud. Sir Leigh f***ing Teabing? Do me a favour.

Compared to Dan Brown, the in-flight magazine seemed like McSweeney's and by the time we'd landed, I knew about every golf course and business hotel in Andalucia.

I'm not a good flyer. I need to be distracted from the terrifying knowledge that I have miles of nothing underneath me. Dan Brown let me down and I'm afraid that I do bear a grudge. Next time I will stick to champagne.


Harry Tournemille said...

Painful isn't it? Sort of like opening a fine cigar box and finding several pages of the local Protestant hymnal, finely rolled in reasonable facsimile.

I've tried on two occasions to read Dan Brown--out of some sort of pop-culture obligation. Five pages has been my best.

Grey Area said...

I don't understand why people pre-order books months in advance - when they will be patently knee deep in copies on the day - it's like getting stressed about the fact you might need a pint of milk on Boxing day next year and putting a deposit down now.

I've never read any Dan Brown - I saw bits of that film with Tom Hanks and it was such utter shite it makes me angry to this day.

Helen Brocklebank said...

The British public has appallingly low brow reading tastes: The worse it is, the more it sells. It's the same in magazines. 'Take A Break' sells 920,000 copies, Esquire sells 52,000

Steerforth said...

And the titles on the Booker Prize shortlist are lucky if the number of copies sold hits four figures.

Depressing, isn't it?

My one crumb of comfort is the huge success that Cloud Atlas enjoyed when it was on the 'Richard and Judy' list.

Who would have thought that such an intelligent, original novel would become the viewers' favourite?

There is hope!

Steerforth said...

'Opening a fine cigar box and finding several pages of the local Protestant hymnal, finely rolled in reasonable facsimile.' Harry - that was sheer poetry.

Richard - the whole deposit thing is pointless on the face of it, but retailers are desperate to secure sales in the face of fierce copetition.

Also, on a more cynical note, they know that not everyone will remember or bother to collect their reservations.

I heard that one year, WHS made £80,000 out of unclaimed Harry Potter deposits. I don't know if that's true, but it's plausible.

Brett said...

Umberto Eco's "Foucault's Pendulum" is a hilarious send-up of the masonic/templar/gnostic thriller.

I had read "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" years ago, and was amazed when Dan Brown turned it into a runaway bestseller that many readers were persuaded was in fact a true account, heretofore suppressed by evil Papists.

Airport fiction is the new penny dreadful.

My library spends untold sums of money on the likes of Dan Brown and James Patterson, while purchases of even single copies of other more worthwhile titles are turned down.

Steerforth said...

Ah yes, I read Foucault's Pedulum many years ago and loved it.

Eco quoted someone - I think it might have been Karl Popper - and said that conspiracy theories are a product of the secular age, created by people who can't handle living in a non-causal universe.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

My snob mechanism kicked in when I realised far too many people were reading The Da Vinci Code for me to possibly lower myself to pick up a copy. Ditto Captain Corelli's Mandolin, never mind any Harry Potters.

Once something is too 'common' it loses its appeal.

Terrible, isn't it?