Thursday, February 17, 2005

Book Review: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

I started reading this because everbody else is. I am not particularly sheep-like, but as an improviser it is good to be knowledgable of the world around you. What people are reading, what people are watching, who are the people that people are following right now. (In both senses.)

Nobody has yet called out Dan Brown or The Da Vinci code as a book style in my presence, but maybe that will change when they make the film. As they certainly will. It's a very filmable book. But then modern thrillers tend to be very filmable, which I am sure is no accident. After all, you can make more on selling the film rights than on the book sales. It's something every financially-conscious novelist should bear in mind.

So what will I do when someone shouts out Dan Brown as a suggestion? Well, there is nothing at all special about the literary style. It is the same as a multiitude of other modern thriller writers. If you asked me the difference between Dan Brown and Dan Patterson, I'd have to say, "Er, they have different parents?" Probably.

No, the difference is in the subjects. If someone suggests Dan Brown, I will start making anagrams of everyone's name or discovering that van Gogh's sunflowers is really a map that tells us where William of Orange's hidden gold is. If someone shouts out Dan Patterson, I'll... oh, I'll have to read another one now.

In short: The Da Vinci Code is a great exploration of the Grail myth and explorer of the murky depths of religious history wrapped up as a conventional modern thriller. A thriller that pulls its punches by implicating then exonerating sinister, shadowy, religious groups such as Opus Dei and The Vatican.

"First left past Utrecht, turn south at the old windmill
and after 300 metres start digging at the X-shaped bush."

Monday, February 14, 2005


The Fifth of February is what in future generations could well be hailed as More Day. Obviously the great thing for which I am to be remembered, has not occurred yet. Or if it has, it certainly didn't seem great at the time.

My exact age is still a big debate amongst leading archeologists who put it at somewhere between the Big Bang and the ten year anniversary of the making of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

And my birthday was a somewhere between the Big Bang and a viewing of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. And one thing it certainly was is full of girls. I had not planned it this way - I invited pretty much everyone I knew here who I thought would go. Just as many boys as girls, I thought. It just happened that when the group reached its peak (volume-wise), in an Irish bar on the Leidseplein, there were 13 people (by my calculations), three of whom were male.

It was drawn to my attention especially when we got up to move on (then 3 girls down), and a little feller comes up to me as the instigator and implores me not to leave and declares it to be a crime that one guy can get up and have so many women follow him. Trust me, it doesn't happen every day. Not even every birthday.

So I led my band of Disney-named Dames (Hanna, Anna, Joanna, Claartje, Claire) headed off out into the dizzy night of Amsterdam. It all starts to get very hazy after that. But a good time was had by all.

Well by me, at least, and everyone else said they enjoyed it. But who cares? It wasn't their birthday.