Island Life by David Slack

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Island Life: Books are our friends

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  • Rich of Observationz,

    Why is Dan Brown considered so bad?

    It's no different to any other thriller you might read - it's not up there with Banks or Rankin but it's a reasonable way to kill a few hours.

    Though the definitive book on the grail thing has to be Rat Scabies and The Holy Grail

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    I was reading The Code on the bus one day and the woman sitting in front of me turned around and said (with some enthusiasm) "it's great isn't it?!"

    I didn't have the heart to tell her I was reading it solely for the pop-culture references and that no, it was awful. The next week I was reading Midnight's Children. No one said anything to me.

    ps. what's in the vid? Some work places frown upon video watching (but not forum commenting).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    Why is Dan Brown considered so bad?

    It is worse than most pulp. Awful characterisation, things happening for no reason, idiotic mono/dialogue, romance springs from nowhere. It's like the worst Hollywood movie (hence it became one of the worst Hollywood movies).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    ps. what's in the vid? Some work places frown upon video watching (but not forum commenting).

    Sorry. Overlooked that. Possibly NSFW for repeated use of the word "motherfuckin". Also some visual attention to booty. Having said that, its intention is noble. Can't guarantee your employer will see it that way, though.


    The Language Log has a bit to say on Dan Brown here

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • reece palmer,

    umbrage get thee behind me...

    the terraces • Since Nov 2006 • 298 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Now Mr Slack, I would have to take issue with your statement "A glance at the cover of the book a person is reading is all we need." A lot of people, me included, read all sorts of things. I read chick lit from time to time. What does that brand me? Or sometimes I can be found reading something a little more esoteric. All a bit confusing. Don't you think you're being a tiny bit smug in your ability to read people?

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    Jackie, I'm acknowledging the unreliable assumptions people can make, and confessing to be as guilty as the next person of making them.

    I'd never impugn your judgement - I was just listening to a Lemon Jelly track on the iPod the other day and thinking kindly of the helpful person who recommended it to me.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    i'll admit to being on public transport, seeing someone with a copy of harry potter, and thinking, "must be a remedial reader".

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    I was very impressed to find The God Delusion, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and Neil Gaiman's American Gods within a five person radius on the Tube a while back.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • David Cauchi,

    Che Tibby wrote:

    'i'll admit to being on public transport, seeing someone with a copy of harry potter, and thinking, "must be a remedial reader".'

    Yeah, but you completely failed to get Philip K Dick's Do androids dream of electric sheep?, so I wouldn't be too smug.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2007 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Leigh Kennaway,

    The best of the many funny comments on The Guardian's site was
    Surely someone who can read 'The Da Vinci Code' without blushing must be an equally shameless lover? What's not to like?

    Western Bays • Since Feb 2007 • 79 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    Why is Dan Brown considered so bad?

    OH MY GOD I HAVE SO MUCH TO SAY ABOUT HOW MUCH I DISLIKE DAN BROWN. I read two books to see what the fuss was about. As a maths-lover a lot of the actual content regarding codes and ambigrams was pretty interesting, but...

    Both plots were so similar I genuinely felt like I'd read the same book twice. Granted, he's very good at keeping you reading - there's a cliff-hanger at the end of every chapter. But they read like they were never intended to be novels, but movies. & I'm with Hadyn: the characterisation is one-dimensional, & the dialogue is overwrought. Too many god-in-the-machine flashes of inspiration at convenient moments. There's only so many times I can read about a character shouting "but wait! I have the answer!" with associated descriptions of identical emotions. The characters are astoundingly naive for their supposed career experience. It reminds me of let's-pretend games I played when I was eight.

    Probably the main thing that grates is that because of the esoteric maths & myths content he's been framed as some kind of historic-intellectual type. Pulp is fine, but pulp pretending to be smart contemporary fiction deserves a good kiwi-style poppy-lopping.

    Also, it piques me that he's been mentioned in the same sentence as David Foster Wallace, both being alumni of Amherst. Apparently DB teaches english & creative writing as well. This fills me with dread, just for images of future bookshop shelves filled with identical plots. (Oh, I've been sifting through DFW's compilation of essays: A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, top notch & hella easier to get through than Infinite Jest).

    I'm currently reading Foucault's Pendulum on public transport, and aside from the somewhat dry encyclopaedic passages (which may or may not be completely fabricated), it's like the quality original of which the code is a cheap knock-off.

    Morningside • Since Nov 2006 • 533 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Apparently DB teaches english & creative writing as well.

    You're kidding me. The guy who wrote

    On his hands and knees, the curator froze, turning his head slowly.

    teaches creative writing?

    Much profanity in front of my children there just was.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    i'll admit to being on public transport, seeing someone with a copy of harry potter, and thinking, "must be a remedial reader".

    I once re-read a copy of a Harry Potter on an evening bus between Auckland and Feilding. It was a remarkably good way to keep occupied.

    However, last year, returning from Europe, I needed something to read (f***ing Lufthansa don't have very good inflight ent), and was just disgusted by the price of the pap in the bookshops. Eventually, in a sort of wilfully contrary way, I found a copy of Northanger Abby, and read that between Munich and HK. I had been intending to sleep on the final leg, but I was to have my first experience of travelling on AirNZ internationally, and found the, er, Sauv. a bit nice. Which didn't quite prepare me for the driving hail, 5 degree temperature, and hundreds of exam scripts waiting for me in Dunedin. But it was fun.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    I'm currently reading Foucault's Pendulum on public transport, and aside from the somewhat dry encyclopaedic passages (which may or may not be completely fabricated), it's like the quality original of which the code is a cheap knock-off.

    Exactly. Most of what's (supposedly) interesting about Da Code is in Eco anyway, and Eco can write.

    From the Guardian comments:

    Anyone who has seen / read the Unbearable Lightness of Being will remember that Tomas, our hero (who gives an entirely new meaning to the phrase "bouncing czechs") gets pulled by a receptionist in a small town because he is reading something cultured. She later turns out to be the love of his lfe - even though he does have to have half the women in Prague before he realises that

    A female friend once lent it to me, and it wasn't until afterwards that I speculated on the significance of the bowler hat that she kept by the bed. D'oh!

    Speaking of which, there's nothing wrong with mixing high & low culture references (presuming that Kundera counts as "high culture"). Actually, The Simpsons is 100 times smarter than Dan Brown's oeuvre. I can't quite understand the logic of reading trash when one's too tired to read intelligent writing. Reading requires a modicum of mental effort even for potboilers, and if I'm too tired for reading something worthwhile and need something to pass the time, I'd rather blob out in front of some mindlessly entertaining TV. Speaking of which, why oh why did Prime have to take off Mythbusters?! Oh well, at least my quota of appointment viewing has halved now.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    Yeah, but you completely failed to get Philip K Dick's Do androids dream of electric sheep?, so I wouldn't be too smug.

    it's not that i didn't get it... it's that i didn't like it...

    dick has a habit of conjuring up a couple of truly great ideas, and banging them out over three nights while loaded to the eyeballs on p.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • David Hamilton,

    I'm sensing an entrepreneurial opportunity here - pulp with classic covers. For those who want to get on the bandwagon of book cover appeal without having to actually absorb any serious literature. Perhaps a Murakami which is secretly a series of sudoku puzzles. Of course it would only work for the first impression. And then be a bit awkward when someone wants to actually discuss the content.

    Another idea is mp3 players that prominently display your superior musical taste in some way. Perhaps arm mounted with a big screen.

    If I ever saw someone reading Bradbury, Gaiman, Vonnegut, myths/legends, old school fairy tales, or one of the good old classics I'd be all up ons.

    Hamiltron • Since Nov 2006 • 111 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    What happened to those devices they allegedly created in Japan that you entered some personal data into, and then wirelessly detected when compatible people were in proximity?

    I got 30 pages into American Gods and bought another book. Neverwhere was ok though.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    pulp with classic covers

    I recall recently seeing for sale some blank books in old pulp fiction covers. Also some penguin classics with blank (draw-your-own) covers. Although if you combined those you would get the opposite of your suggestion. Though it might make good conversation if somebody did ask...

    One of the guardian comments on Dan Brown reminded me: I would at least recongise a kindred spirit if I saw someone, perhaps 20 pages from the end of <i>Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix</i>, look up and exclaim, "Wait a minute - this is bollocks," before casting the wretched thing away forever.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Kennedy,

    i'll admit to being on public transport, seeing someone with a copy of harry potter, and thinking, "must be a remedial reader.

    What influence does the bus number have on the choice of reading material, The 18:10 number 9 last night had readers in my immediate vicinity enjoying “Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground “ and The Illuminatus! Trilogy (omnibus edition).

    I had left the Dom at work and had nothing to read in case anybody is wondering

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 224 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    i'll admit to being on public transport, seeing someone with a copy of harry potter, and thinking, "must be a remedial reader".

    Heh, that was probably me. The bus is the perfect place for reading childrens' books. I once got caught out reading the Guardian Weekly on the bus and had to put up with the most boring conversation ever from a fellow tree hugger.

    Never again.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    <i>Stardust</i> would be a good Gaiman book to flirt over I'd have said.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    trying to get stardust and snow crash out of the wellington central library is a mission...

    they are always out.

    I once got caught out reading the Guardian Weekly on the bus and had to put up with the most boring conversation ever from a fellow tree hugger

    heh... that explains this comment from tony

    readers in my immediate vicinity enjoying “Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground “ and The Illuminatus! Trilogy (omnibus edition)

    "danger will robinson"

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Well, I've read all of Dan Browns books and I enjoyed them. They are thrilling page-turners which I enjoyed as much as any blockbuster action thriller movie I've seen.

    Also, I don't read a lot of fiction. I'm happy to watch a movie that is a work of fiction, but with books somehow the time invested in reading the book doesn't seem worth it if it's all made up. It was never an issue when I was a child, but probably because children's non-fiction tends to be rubbish like "1001 Radical Facts About Animals!"

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    I got 30 pages into American Gods and bought another book. Neverwhere was ok though

    See, I'd put that the other way around, I found Neverwhere an inferior ripoff of Roofworld and at least one other novel I can't quite recall right now, but quite enjoyed American Gods (and Anansi Boys). Coraline and The Wolves In The Walls are cool as well, especially if you have kids to share them with.

    Buy Snow Crash, go to a decent second-hand bookshop (Browsers if you're up this way) and just buy it. You'll be reading it more than once anyway. Ditto Diamond Age and Crytonomicon. Just for any lurking download nazis - I read Snow Crash as a scanned e-book, then promptly went out and bought it.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

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