Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The Garden For The Blind

I have had no less than five emails in the last two days from different commercial organisations to inform me that ‘the most anticipated book of the year’ is now available for purchase. They’re talking, of course, about Dan Brown’s Inferno.

Now, as a matter of fact, I would rather gnaw off my own arm than read one of Dan Brown’s books. There’s more than one reason for this. For a start, having grown up a Catholic, been educated by Jesuits, and known people in Opus Dei, I find the premises of his works utterly ludicrous. For another, his prose continually strikes me as clunky as this piece in the Telegraph illustrates

But the man shifts product! It cannot be denied. He sells more books in five minutes than I will sell in my lifetime. So is this just sour grapes on my part? Maybe, but I think there’s to it than that. It reminds me of a time when I was very young and my mother took me to a nearby park in which there was a garden for the blind. As we were walking through this garden I told my mother that I couldn't understand the point of it because the blind wouldn't be able to see the flowers. My mother laughed. 'The point is all the lovely smells,' she said.

I didn't reply because I couldn't smell anything at all. As I eventually came to understand some years later, I have almost no sense of smell. (Indeed, I once woke up to find my duvet on fire but it wasn't the smell that had woken me up; it was thirst.)

I think I'm missing some sense when I read, also, and probably when I write whereas Dan Brown has that sense in spades. So when I try to read something like The Da Vinci Code I only get an overwhelming feeling of frustration because I can't smell the part of it that's likeable. I can only smell the bit that's terrible. I'm always trying to smell the bit that's likeable. I know it's there but I can never catch even the faintest whiff.


Anonymous said...

So are you saying his writing stinks?

I've only read one of his novels, and I'll give him credit for delivering product that many people like, but I don't see myself ever reading another of is works.

As for your duvet being on fire . . . I'm sure there's a story behind that!

Brian Keaney said...

Hi Paul. Good to hear from you. Let's just say Dan Brown is not my cup of tea.

I once heard a story about Dr Johnson's attention to vocabulary and inattention to personal hygiene that amused me. Apparently he was in a coach when one of his fellow passengers turned to him and said, 'Sir, you smell!'. He replied, 'Madam, you smell. I stink.' I've always liked that anecdote. My trouble is I don't smell.

There is, indeed, a story behind the burning duvet. It's the story of a mis-spent youth.

Sam Sattler said...

I agree with you, Brian. I just "don't get" Dan Brown and never will. Ludicrous, centuries-spanding conspiracy theory novels simply bore me, but Brown's prose would do that no matter what genre he chose for himself.