Is Dan Brown a “writer”?

10 Responses

  1. Mr. Poet says:

    I checked out that article about the 20 things, but I did not comment. I chalked it up to editing error, on the part of the author and the editor. However, it could be the case that Brown writes so poorly, the editor(s) simply could not revise the manuscript enough to catch all of Brown's errors.

  2. Ken says:

    Where do you weigh in on Stephen King? The same arguments were made of King, many opining that he could publish his grocery list and it would still get read.

    I do think that Stephen King matured as a writer and achieved a colloquial style that made him very readable. I liken Stephen King to Mark Twain, hoping that King will be remembered fondly by future English classes as an example of late 20th Century American literature.

    I can't say the same of Dan Brown. Having read all three of his Robert Langdon series and attempted reading "Digital Fortress", I truly hope he goes quietly into literatures' annals as yet another author popular with the masses for no discernible reason.

    • Charles says:

      I haven’t read King, either, though I may in the future. One of the keys that you hit on is that King became a better writer over time. It’s a sad commentary on the author and his readers if “good enough” is good enough. What I mean by that is that if his first novel was a good story but poor writing, he should aim to become a better writer while writing the second, and even better for the third. But Brown is aiming for something good enough to sell books. There’s no interest in writing well for its own sake.

      I aspire to be a writer, and I don’t intend to stop working on the craft when I’m first published, just as I didn’t stop working on the design craft when I was first hired as designer.

      When you do something poorly, learn to do it well. When you do something well, learn to do it better.

  3. Alison says:

    My observation is that quality is going by the wayside in most areas of civilization. And conspiracy theorists are the worst. The body has lost all connection to the head!

  4. SLKeeth says:

    I was teaching my class about cultural myths (those underlying archetypes in books & movies) and Dan Brown came up. The problem is, Brown doesn't leave any room for archetypes, because everything in his books is overt. It's all spelled out for you, the non-careful, non-critical reader, just in case you don't understand the concept of subtext.

    King writes some purple prose, to be sure, but he is a mythmaker of… well, mythic proportions. He's not Faulkner, but he's a darn sight better than Brown. That's my two cents.

    [Added the link because I had no idea what "purple prose" is. — Charles]

  5. Anna says:

    The books are enjoyable and exciting to me. I have taken notice of his simplistic, sometimes way way too spelled out, writing. In the end though, they're just fun to read. If I want to read something thought provoking, or amazingly written, or something that makes me smarter, then I'll go find someone else for that. I don't believe everything I read has to meet these criteria. Sometimes after reading enough of that junk, I just want to read something easy and fun with a page turning plot. I think he's good at what he does. He's good at telling stories, and that's worth something. I've read plenty of stuff from people who were good at writing, but just plain bad at telling a story in an interesting way.

    I do think it's pretty snobby though to act like only mediocre readers buy or enjoy his books. Maybe only medicore american readers are the ones to proclaim it's the "BEST BOOK EVER!!!!!". Actually scratch that. I would be thrilled to know the mediocre americans are reading anything at all at this point.

    • Charles says:

      The approach you describe to reading is the approach I take to movies. I enjoyed Transformers 2, even though it was by most accounts a flaming, shape-shifting, load of prepubescent hormones exploding for 150 minutes. It was fun, though.

      That being said, while I find movies with telegraphed plots and simplistic “twists” entertaining when the points of humor are unexpected and effective, I don’t have the same criteria for books. If I’m going to read something, even a comic book, I expect it to be well-written and thought out. Writing doesn’t have to be simplistic to be easy and fun. The Hobbit, The Bourne Identity, Pride and Prejudice … all fall into the “easy and fun” category, yet none are simplistic.

      I, too, would be thrilled to know that the “mediocre” Americans are reading at all, and any achievement to that end is a success. But I would hope that after they read one thing, both they and the author would aim a little higher next time.

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    […] Is Dan Brown a “writer”? […]

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