Dan Brown's Inferno: the first reviews, and a very good parody

by Toby Manhire / 14 May, 2013
The renowned Da Vinci Code author is back with his renowned hero Robert Langdon.
The new novel from Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, hasn’t been published yet, but it’s already safe to assume that Inferno will be the year’s bestseller.

The first British reviews have just emerged – here’s the Guardian, and the Independent, and the Financial Times – and they’re not too brutal.

There’s nothing, at least, as grim as the New York Times observation that “the early sections of Inferno come so close to self-parody that Mr Brown seems to have lost his bearings” (it gets better).

“The pages fly by,” says the Guardian’s Steven Poole. “Only lunatics would begrudge the blockbusting bard's determination to popularise great Italian poetry.”

And fans of Brown’s distinctive style will be pleased to hear that the goodies are there – including, for example, his description of the way “a powerfully built woman effortlessly unstraddled her BMW motorcycle”.

It's precisely that kind of prose that encouraged Michael Deacon of Britain's Daily Telegraph to determine that Brown is not, after all, beyond parody. He has penned this fresh entry for the admittedly already swollen genre.

“Renowned author Dan Brown woke up in his luxurious four-poster bed in his expensive $10 million house – and immediately he felt angry,” it begins.

Most people would have thought that the 48-year-old man had no reason to be angry. After all, the famous writer had a new book coming out. But that was the problem. A new book meant an inevitable attack on the rich novelist by the wealthy wordsmith’s fiercest foes.


Deacon’s piece received swift acclamation online among those foes, and four days later has attracted more than 50,000 Facebook shares.

It’s good, too.

The critics said his writing was clumsy, ungrammatical, repetitive and repetitive,” it continues. "They said it was full of unnecessary tautology. They said his prose was swamped in a sea of mixed metaphors. For some reason they found something funny in sentences such as “His eyes went white, like a shark about to attack.” They even say my books are packed with banal and superfluous description, thought the 5ft 9in man. He particularly hated it when they said his imagery was nonsensical. It made his insect eyes flash like a rocket.


And:

I’ll call my agent, pondered the prosperous scribe. He reached for the telephone using one of his two hands. “Hello, this is renowned author Dan Brown,” spoke renowned author Dan Brown. “I want to talk to literary agent John Unconvincingname.”


 “Mr Unconvincingname, it’s renowned author Dan Brown,” told the voice at the other end of the line. Instantly the voice at the other end of the line was replaced by a different voice at the other end of the line. “Hello, it’s literary agent John Unconvincingname,” informed the new voice at the other end of the line.


And my favourite bit, which follows John Unconvincingname assuring Brown that he needn’t worry about snob critics:

That’s true, mused the accomplished composer of thrillers that combined religion, high culture and conspiracy theories. His books were read by everyone from renowned politician President Obama to renowned musician Britney Spears. It was said that a copy of The Da Vinci Code had even found its way into the hands of renowned monarch the Queen. He was grateful for his good fortune, and gave thanks every night in his prayers to renowned deity God.


A few years ago the Telegraph collected Dan Brown’s 20 worst sentences. Three of them were the opening lines from his novels:

The Da Vinci Code: Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum's Grand Gallery.


Angels and Demons: Physicist Leonardo Vetra smelled burning flesh, and he knew it was his own.


Deception Point: Death, in this forsaken place, could come in countless forms. Geologist Charles Brophy had endured the savage splendor of this terrain for years, and yet nothing could prepare him for a fate as barbarous and unnatural as the one about to befall him.


 

Finally, when the Da Vinci Code film came out, the MTV Movie Awards put together an amusing pisstake:

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