Saturday, April 9, 2011

Reading Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol"

Dan likes to bring in the villains right off the top. Our Albino Monk for this trip is a guy with an apostrophe in his name, but he's not Irish or anything. He seems more like that "Teal'k" guy from Stargate. And instead of whipping himself, he gets his jollies from shaving himself bare and administering tattooes. So we've really moved on from "The Da Vinci Code", haven't we? Unless Mr. Brown is giving us wry references to Audrey Tautou from the film version. Rawwrr!

Early on in "The Lost Symbol", author Dan Brown gives us a glimpse into the nefarious mind of Entirely Shaven Tattooed And Apostrophe'd McNasty...well, let's just call him "Tat'too" for short. His thoughts are helpfully relayed to us via italics, and they are suprisingly concise for someone who has just attained the 33rd Level of the Ultra-Secret and Powerful Brotherhood of the Supreme Worshipful Master of whatever it is I Haven't Found Out Yet. The secret is how to die...They will never know my true purpose here...My God, they know!...Soon you will lose everything...Now they have opened their doors to me...I am an artifact...Child's play. Oasis is terribly overrated. Oops, that last one was me! And I'm only on page 23! Crumbs, what was he thinking about while attaining the other thirty-two levels?

Arriving at an airport can be a very unpleasant experience. Björk once famously beat up a reporter after arriving at an airport. Maybe she'd had a bad flight. Perhaps she mistook the reporter for a fan. In Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol", Our Hero (well, let's just call him "Tom Hanks" for short) arrives in Washington DC, only to be immediately accosted by a gushing admirer whose sole purpose is to remind us of Our Hero's, er, Tom's, previous adventure in "The Da Vinci Code", which we may wish to consider picking up the next time we're at an airport. Imagine getting off a plane, only to be faced with some trilling nutbar asking if you're the one that wrote about the sacred feminine and the church. I know what I'd ask Tom Hanks if I saw him at an airport. "Why didn't you try harder to save Wilson?! You Bastard!"

I haven't learned much so far about the Lost Symbol, but I guess I do appreciate Björk a lot more.

I've got a long way to go before finishing Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol". I haven't even got as far as the bit where they've lost it yet. But I have figured out how Dan managed to come up with over 500 pages of material. In a word, Advertising. In two words, Product Placement.

So far, I've come across completely unnecessary references to Otis elevators, Falcon 2000EX corporate jets, Pratt & Whitney engines, Harris Tweed jackets and Lincoln Town Cars, and that's just in Chapter 1, and he needed all that stuff to stretch the vital opening frame to three and a half pages of action.

He leaned back in his Staples Office Supplies ergonomic chair, noticing with satisfaction the Ariel text staring back at him from his 18-inch Acer monitor. Casually glancing at his Timex Flix Technology wristwatch, he allowed himself a moment to cross one leg over the other. A slow smirk spread over his face as he stroked his matching Arnold Palmer slippers. Child's play. The words came all too easily. He tugged at a cuff of his well-worn LL Bean Relaxed Fit blue jeans, and wondered idly if now was the time to consider changing into his Mark's Work Wearhouse pajama bottoms. They would suspect nothing. His smirk widened into a sinister grin. Maybe the Marithé et François Girbaud black denim French dancing pants would be more appropriate. His lips puckered as he considered the possibilities. In these pants, I will dance. He chuckled out loud. In France. Perchance to some trance. With a girl named Nance.

Oh, who am I kidding. I'm strictly minor league. A real player would have brought in a Lexus by now, along with See's Chocolate Truffles and the Sheraton Maui.

Does anyone ever have sex in Dan Brown books? I was thinking of that after reading the first couple of chapters of his latest (nyuk) Opus "The Lost Symbol". His previous best-seller, "The Da Vinci Code", featured an evil albino monk who liked to give himself frequent whippings. For "The Lost Symbol", he's been replaced as Head Nastioso by someone named Tat'too who gets off on yarning his own flesh.

The previous novel's film adaptation promisingly featured the lovely Audrey Tautou, but she was put off sex forever by showing up unannounced one evening at her Grandad's only to find him actively leading a sort-of religious congregation more devoted to Good Nooky than Good Booky.

Our Hero, played in the films by Tom Hanks, has a routine of plunging into his local swimming pool each morning before 5am for forty laps. This suggests he's got a lot of frustration to work through.

Tom's mentor is a gray-eyed power multi-billionaire who does a side act as Chief Worshipful Supreme Master of the Royal Order of Stuff, which seems to take care of his baser urges. Mister Master has a Sister (also gray-eyed, and I'd like a dollar, please, for every time the word "gray" appears in "The Lost Symbol"). She is "married to her work", so no dating for her. Maybe it's a good thing that none of these people are reproducing, as Mr. Brown makes very clear when the one offspring of a major character is finally revealed.

There is actually only one remotely likeable character in the entire novel, and she ends up face-down in a Squid Tank fairly early on in the action, which really pissed me off. Mr. Brown, don't piss off your readers.

So I ended up skimming through most of the rest of "The Lost Symbol", rolling my eyes at lots of it, and eventually racing to the exciting finish before my library copy's due date came up. Dare I mention that I was plowing through Kim Stanley Robinson's "Galileo's Dream" at the same time, which is somewhat akin to mixing a hazelnut gelato with a McDonald's vanilla cone. A 500-page vanilla cone.

This couple did not appear in Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol".

DEFINITELY not in the book.

NEXT: England. France. And I did Dance!

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