This really, really irks me. I hate the way things are going now; that fact is revered and fiction is considered a child's realm. I've mentioned more than once before that what makes me angrier than anything else is when a grown adult declares proudly "I don't read fiction, only non-fiction". I just can't understand it. All through history people have relied on folk-tales, legends and unsubstantiated beliefs to give their lives meaning and to explain what they otherwise could not. The author himself mentions this; that the "truth" about the bible should not be revealed because it is the faith that is important, not the factual basis or otherwise of what is being read. Who even knows what is fact or fiction? Things that were considered finite truth have been constantly disproved throughout history. Science is no more reliable than religion in explaining away the world. Fact is subjective.
People argue that the Da Vinci Code is comendable because it gets people who wouldn't usually read fiction to do so. Well fine... if it actually was fiction. What that book is is a whole bunch of "factual" information tied together by an incomprehensible plot and badly imagined characters. What's the point of reading "fiction" if that is all it is? One of the greatest things about fictional prose is revelling in the power of the written word. Dan Brown does not use the English language to any aeshtetic end in this book - he employs it as a tool and destroys it, abuses it and rapes it. I mean, even the first sentence is of such a poor quality than after reading it, one does not hold much hope for the rest of the novel. It simultaneously infuriates me and gives me renewed hope to think that someone who writes like a nine year old ESL speaker actually got published - and has the best selling book... ever. Meanwhile an acquaintance of mine, Donna Mazza, worked for the best part of a decade on her manuscript, labouring over every single word, and is only just being published now. Her novel is true literature, but if you don't live in Western Australia - or even if you do - I'm almost certain you haven't heard of it. So how the hell did this crackpot get published?
The world needs good fiction. More than anything, people need to understand the quality and value of fiction in its purest forms. Fiction that doesn't "change the way we see the world" or that does, but through the use of beautiful language and wonderful, three-dimensional characters that are almost - but not quite - real and fantastic - or all too real - settings and storylines. The Bell jar by Sylvia Plath, (many would argue it's practically a biography but I have done subtantial research to the contrary)A Widow for One Year by John Irving, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood and every damned thing that Stephen King has ever written - particularly Hearts in Atlantis and "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption". Mine obviously reflect the tastes of a young feminist would-be anthropologist but my God, there's been enough beautiful fiction written in the past decade in English for there to be something for everyone, before you even consider everything written in other languages, or everything that's been written in the past five hundred or so years. We don't need bullshit like the awful, awful waste of space that currently adorns my desk.
But don't take my word for it: the most convincing piece of evidence is right there in the first pages of the book itself. Amongst four pages of "praise" for the book, one review excerpt declares it "the pulp must-read of the season". and... they're selling this in the "literature" section of Angus and Robertson? Holy shit. Any book which would declare itself proudly in its own opening pages as pulp - or, as is more likely - does not realise this to be an insult... well, it's certainly not worth my while. I only hope the rest of the world's population can think as highly of themselves as me with my over-developed ego that sees the letter I in venetian blinds...
Oh and Mr Brown? I can think of something else that starts with "M". No it's not "Mary" or "Mary Magdalene" or "Mother". It's what Da Vinci would have thought of your "novel":