Thursday, May 25, 2006

"Da Vinci" and Dixie Chicks

In this week's New Yorker, my sweet Anthony eviscerates "The Da Vinci Code," book and film:

>> There has been much debate over Dan Brown’s novel ever since it was published, in 2003, but no question has been more contentious than this: if a person of sound mind begins reading the book at ten o’clock in the morning, at what time will he or she come to the realization that it is unmitigated junk? The answer, in my case, was 10:00.03, shortly after I read the opening sentence: “Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery.” With that one word, “renowned,” Brown proves that he hails from the school of elbow-joggers—nervy, worrisome authors who can’t stop shoving us along with jabs of information and opinion that we don’t yet require. (Buried far below this tic is an author’s fear that his command of basic, unadorned English will not do the job; in the case of Brown, he’s right.) You could dismiss that first stumble as a blip, but consider this, discovered on a random skim through the book: “Prominent New York editor Jonas Faukman tugged nervously at his goatee.” What is more, he does so over “a half-eaten power lunch,” one of the saddest phrases I have ever heard. <<

I love Anthony Lane. What I especially love here is his critique of that first sentence -- he is so right, and writers tell like that in commercial fiction all the time, and it has always annoyed me vaguely but I have never had a term for it, and now every time I see it I will think "Ha! Elbow-jogger!" As he goes on to note, it's a forgivable sin if the action is good, but it better be good to make up for the forced characters.

And I can be a prominent New York editor without a goatee, right? I do enjoy power lunches (which I always finish), and I can just tug nervously on my hair instead.


Rarely do I go out and purchase an album as soon as it's released, and rarely does buying an album feel like a political act. But I'd been planning to get the new Dixie Chicks CD ever since I heard it was coming out this spring -- and after I read this article in Time (only a partial available online, sorry, though it's more or less the same content here), I would have bought it even if I didn't like the music, just to support the Chicks' sales and the bravery of their songs and actions. They stick to their principles, make terrific music, and loathe President Bush -- my heroines! Get the album here.


  1. On a recent episode of 60 Minutes, when asked if she regretted what she said about President Bush and the war, Natalie Maines replied something like "Why should I regret not wanting our country to be at war? And not wanting our soldiers to die?" Meanwhile, most folks would rather waste time reading, talking about and protesting Dan Brown's book. Why don't we get our troops home instead and listen to the Chicks?

  2. I never gave the Dixie Chicks a second listen till their controversial comment. Now? Love 'em!

    I did like The DaVinci Code when I first read it, though. Not the best writing, but still intriguing. Still, I think The dePaola Code on our blog is even more earth shattering!

  3. I read a similar article this week about how our local radio stations are refusing to play Dixie Chicks. I immediately ordered the album and will put it in my i-pod. Who needs the stinking radio anyway?

  4. I finally read The Da Vinci Code just last month, due to a desire to always read a novel before I see any movie based on that novel. I'm sorry to say I wished just once I'd seen the movie first.

    I was spellbound by the bad writing and dismayed that a good gimmick beats true quality too many times. But that seems to be the case in real life.

    And here's wishing the Dixie Chicks much success! First saw them perform as a quartet in Winfield, Kansas, nearly 15 years ago. Keep rocking, girls!

  5. The dePaola Code has made me a believer.

    And I will add "elbow jogger" to my list of useful writing terms along with "mind hopping" and "mirror moment".

    Good stuff!


  6. I just bought their album today, mostly as a show of support, but I honestly think its quite strong. I should mention this is the only country album I own that I purchased myself.

    I've heard it's only Country stations that are banning the Chicks, however they're getting good airplay on rock stations. Also their album debuted #1!