Reviews of Dan Brown's latest ... ugh

Il Miglior Fabbro in a pensive mood (perhaps thinking about books and book reviewers): portrait by Agnolo Bronzino

Another Dan Brown novel, another pack of smug reviews.

Here’s my confession:  I’m already sick of the reviews of Brown’s "Inferno," and the book only pubbed a day ago. Reviewers say that Brown doesn’t do anything new in his latest, but here’s the thing: neither do they.

The criticisms are predictable; the angles are all the same. "How can he write such drivel?” they say, wringing their hands. At this point, after four books, attacking Brown's prose style or story line is unimaginative and tiresome -- like shooting fish in the proverbial barrel.

If they can do better than Brown, then they should give it a try. Please. That’s what’s changed for me, my friends. As I've worked with historical material and puzzles in a book of my own,  I’ve come to appreciate Brown even if I wouldn’t make the same narrative choices.

Every reviewer, in fact, should try to write a novel or a story before offering to review one. That doesn't mean that you'll become an instant cheerleader. But at least you'll have a broader perspective ... and maybe you'll avoid carpal tunnel syndrome from all that hand-wringing. Writing  is an extraordinarily humbling, powerful journey.


Good: New York Times (keeps perspective on the story, and the thriller genre):

Decent: The Globe and Mail (it starts off like all the rest, and then changes) New York Daily News:

Eye-rollers The Standard: Clives James in USA Today:

Praise (with an extreme back of the hand) The Telegraph:

Completely lame: The Guardian (imitating Brown’s writing)

Mea culpa: I’m no innocent bystander. I was once guilty of this sort of holier-than-thou reviewing too,0,5481048.story (blech)