I went to the library today, and there, on the "new books" shelf, was a copy of Dan Brown's most recent effort, The Lost Symbol (Doubleday, 2009; 509 pages). So, of course, I checked it out, all the while thinking, "I'm really going to hate myself for reading this." Because Dan Brown seems to be the author everyone loves to hate.
Full disclosure: I have read both Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code. And all the way through both of them, I kept asking myself, why am I reading this? Especially with The Da Vinci Code, it was a matter of, "I've seen all of this before, why am I reading this at all?" Well, of course, I'd seen it before. I had read Holy Blood, Holy Grail long since (as we estabished early on in the life of this blog, I love a good conspiracy theory), and I guess the politic thing to say is that Brown borrowed extensively from the ideas presented there.
But, further disclosure compels me to say that both books kept me turning the pages, wanting to know what was going to happen next. The story moved right along. And that's why I picked up The Lost Symbol. I'm willing to read a book that keeps me turning the pages, since so many don't manage to do that. I've tried to read A Tale of Two Cities about twenty times, and I've never managed to get past page three; it just doesn't give me any incentive to turn to page four.
I expect that someone will try to guilt me for reading "that guy". That's their problem, because I really believe in letting a writer and his or her story stand on their own. I also beleive that very little writing is great literature, and that that's okay. Sometimes, a novel is just a good diversion. And that's okay, too.
I'll let you know how it goes.