Pale Wire (Popscene)

Sunday, May 09, 2004


Friday night I finished reading Nobel Prize winner Herman Hesse's novel Siddhartha. It's a pretty famous book (as far as german novels go) and I'd been curious about it for a while. It's the story of a young Brahmin who spends his life struggling to find his own sense of Buddhist enlightment in the world around him. He fails miserably at virtually everything before discovering what he's been searching for within himself. If you're interesting in Buddhism I think this would make a good primer (as well as this neat little book). The intended audience is Westerners and at 150 pages it's a quick, easy read. The translation's straightforward prose gives the text a dry tone that resembles other religious novels like Pilgrim's Progress. However, the story and characters are arranged so skillfully that it's still a compelling read.

Yesterday afternoon I read the first 30 pages of The Da Vinci Code. I gotta say it: Big Whoop. Brown seems more interested in showing off his research than crafting a multifacted character or a beautiful sentence. Nothing but plot, plot, plot, plot and more plot. I felt like I was reading a screenplay.

And what is with the obvious and redundant bits of interior monologue?

I'm sure there's a big plot playoff at the end but, frankly, I have no interest in getting that far. I don't like books that are 99% plot, which explains why I prefer to Chekhov, Carver and Murakami (who many readers find frustrating because of the lack of red ribbon endings) to genre fiction. I'd rather look at a painting than follow a trail of bread crumbs.

And, while I'm being an asshole, allow me to direct your attention to this article from The New York Times Book Review. It punches semi-truck sized holes through Brown's research. FACT: It's just another genre novel.