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Old 10-01-2017, 07:54 PM   #1
someoneyouknow
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Dan Brown and criticism of Dan Brown

Let me preface everything by saying I have never read a single Dan Brown book. At best I've skimmed a few lines here and there when I find one of his books at a yard sale.

With the exception of Gerald's Game, I have never read a single Stephen King book, either. What I do remember of that solitary book was, "Oh my god. Get to the point already!" It seemed King went on an on about nothing important. Then again, I don't scare that easily despite a fairly vivid imagination.

That said, Dan Brown's newest book, Origin, is coming out this week and CBS has this short interview with him. There is also a link to read the prologue and first chapter of the book.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/author-...i-code-origin/

To finally get to the point (see above), Stephen King has called Brown's writing, in general, the intellectual equivalent of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Which raises the point, is King that good compared to Brown, or are their genres so different it is unfair to make a direct comparison? Would any of you consider King a master of writing? Along the same lines, what about Danielle Steele or Nora Roberts? From what I have read about those two their stories are essentially the same with only the characters and locations changed.

Is King simply full of himself? As Brown himself admits, he's not trying to be like Faulkner.

These are only my questions for those who have read both authors. Just your opinions and thoughts on this. Examples of why, for both authors, would be appreciated.
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Old 10-01-2017, 08:08 PM   #2
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A writer doesn't have to be any better than his/her readers' interests. If he gets enough readers to make as much money off writing as King and Brown have--and, significant in both of these cases, to expand the popularity of a genre as these two have in separate genres--that should be good enough to anyone not sinking into "it should have been me" sour grapes (paying attention, all of you "Shades of Grey" antifanatics out there?). There are plenty of different kinds of writers for folks to find the ones they like to follow and leave the Kings and Browns to those who enjoy reading them (I don't follow either).

The pity, I think, is when this gets to the writer of best-sellers that the writer her/himself has come to regard as substandard. John Grisham, who lives near me and who I hear talk of his writing regularly, is one who launched a lucrative genre for himself and other writers. He has gotten tired of that genre, though (but has signed contracts to continue writing in it). He's tried writing in other genres he considers more worthy of a serious writer and has had mixed reception there that is disappointing him. To hell with what readers who don't think his lawyer mysteries are "good enough," but it's a pity that he's gotten to thinking that himself. Each one he writes is still a guaranteed best-seller and keeps a fan base big enough to sustain that.
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Old 10-01-2017, 08:12 PM   #3
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I'm a fan of King's work up until a certain point. Now is he talented? Of course he is. Are his books scary? Hit or miss, but pretty much everything up until and including Dark Half were pretty creepy.

Is he full of himself? Totally. Maybe he wasn't in the past, but last few years very much so. When saying someone has the intellectual styling of mac and cheese he should remember how many times he was rejected back in the 70's

So many times he tossed his Carrie manuscript and was going to get a real job until his wife rescued it from the garbage and sent it in again to be picked up that time.

My point there is its a shame successful people, many at least, forget where they came from.

If you follow him on social media you will find him pretentious and politically whiny. He made a comment awhile back he wrote better drunk. I tend to agree with him, but wouldn't want to see him pick up the bottle again.
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Old 10-01-2017, 08:15 PM   #4
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I guess I only half answered. I think comparing writers is subjective. My fav might is someone other people may not like and so on. There is no limit to how many books you can read so I tend to pick up what looks good and not go by others opinions.

But I think its a shame when someone like King or a better example the 100% bitchfest known as Anne Rice condemns someone their mindless followers will automatically not only not buy it, but spread that poison as if they had actually read it.
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Old 10-01-2017, 08:16 PM   #5
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I have attempted to read Steven King books several times and always put them down without ever picking them back up. The reason is just what you state. Reading the first 50 pages of every character's entire life history BORED THE LIVING SHIT out of me.

I have on the other hand read most of Dan Brown's books and I am usually enthralled and find myself thinking about points he made weeks, months and years after I read them. And while I am a big fan of Tom Hanks and he was excellent in his roles in Dan Brown movies. I would rather read Brown's books than watch the movies. Much of the real thinking matter is lost or diluted in the movies.

Stephen King? I more often associate him with Jordy Verrill.
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Old 10-01-2017, 08:24 PM   #6
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Well, they're apparently both good at writing for their audience.

I haven't read any Stephen King, so I can't comment beyond that.

I think it was Roger Ebert who said that he read a Dan Brown book once in a while to remind himself that life was to short to be reading Dan Brown books.

I feel the same way about Pringle's potato chips. I'm thinking "Why am I eating this stuff?" and "Are there any more?" Dan Brown is, to me, the literary equivalent.
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Old 10-01-2017, 08:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
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I have attempted to read Steven King books several times and always put them down without ever picking them back up. The reason is just what you state. Reading the first 50 pages of every character's entire life history BORED THE LIVING SHIT out of me.

I have on the other hand read most of Dan Brown's books and I am usually enthralled and find myself thinking about points he made weeks, months and years after I read them. And while I am a big fan of Tom Hanks and he was excellent in his roles in Dan Brown movies. I would rather read Brown's books than watch the movies. Much of the real thinking matter is lost or diluted in the movies.

Stephen King? I more often associate him with Jordy Verrill.
Points for the Creepshow reference

King's older books weren't as bad with the endless exposition. That came when he was so big people wouldn't dare edit anything he wrote. The last one I tired was Black House, the sequel to Talisman co written with Peter Straub. 80 pages in King is still introducing us to everyone in the town down to who they're having sex with their life story etc and I gave up.

Personally I prefer Straub and McCammon to King, but that's my opinion.
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Old 10-02-2017, 02:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by someoneyouknow View Post
Would any of you consider King a master of writing?
King is a master of what he does, absolutely. Or has certainly done masterful work at what he does. All that stuff that made you groan "get to the point" is his forte, his ability to vividly set scenes and characters and flesh them out is why we know his name and he's sold as many books as he has.

By comparison, Brown is a hack. Nothing morally wrong with being a hack, of course, the same could be said of John Grisham. Good on him, being a hack has made him more money from writing than I've ever seen.

However, Stephen King is talking about something else. King has, after all, never pretended to be deep and earth-shattering or anything other than a writer trying to entertain people.

Dan Brown's whole schtick, OTOH, was entirely different. What was supposed to make him more than just a hack was based on his pretending to have unearthed unusual and interesting takes on large, sweeping topics like "did the Catholic Church suppress information about this super-awesome secret truth that Jesus had kids?" That's how he really made his name.

The Da Vinci Code / Robert Langdon books traded heavily on this mystique, and anyone still taking it in any way seriously by now -- or by extension, Dan Brown as any kind of deep thinker about religion, which the marketing for Origin makes it clear he's still purporting to be -- is being conned. That's King's point, and it is correct.
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Old 10-02-2017, 06:42 AM   #9
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I've read quite a few of King's books. Not much from the last twenty years - not that I soured on him particularly, just that I've mostly been reading out of other people's collections and they didn't have more recent stuff. For me, his work ranges between "really good" and "meh". He's still got the #1 movie on IMDB so he must have something going for him :-)

I'm a very fast reader, so length in itself isn't a negative for me, and sometimes King turns it into a positive. "Christine" is about 200k words, but he uses that length effectively to build up tension.

There are others, though, where he loses his way; the stories end up bloated and rambling because he seems to have lost track of the emotional heart of the tale.

He's still got the #1 movie on IMDB (Shawshank Redemption) so he must have done something right there, and "Misery" is great as a story about writing.

Quote:
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Dan Brown's whole schtick, OTOH, was entirely different. What was supposed to make him more than just a hack was based on his pretending to have unearthed unusual and interesting takes on large, sweeping topics like "did the Catholic Church suppress information about this super-awesome secret truth that Jesus had kids?" That's how he really made his name.
Yeah, this was a big part of why I bounced off Dan Brown hard. I enjoy popcorn fiction now and then, but Brown's fake-erudite stuff rubbed me the wrong way.

From what I've seen - which I'll grant is not much on Brown's side - maybe the biggest difference between the two is their characters. King tends to write everyday types. Brown, well...

Quote:
The youngest full professor at Georgetown University and a brilliant foreign-language specialist, he was practically a celebrity in the world of academia. Born with an eidetic memory and a love of languages, he'd mastered six Asian dialects as well as Spanish, French, and Italian. His university lectures on etymology and linguistics were standing-room-only, and he invariably stayed late to answer a barrage of questions. He spoke with authority and enthusiasm, apparently oblivious to the adoring gazes of his star-struck coeds.

Becker was dark—a rugged, youthful thirty-five with sharp green eyes and a wit to match. ... Over six feet tall, Becker moved across a squash court faster than any of his colleagues could comprehend. After soundly beating his opponent, he would cool off by dousing his head in a drinking fountain and soaking his tuft of thick, black hair. Then, still dripping, he'd treat his opponent to a fruit shake and a bagel.
Personal taste, but I much prefer King's characters. That said, between them Brown and King are evidence that there's a market for more than one style of writing.
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Old 10-02-2017, 07:06 AM   #10
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Ive never read King, or Dan Brown. Their stuff doesn't appeal to me. BUT when I was learning screenwriting, King's name would come up often as an exemplar of clear, well-structured storyline; which is why his stuff adapts well to movies, where the storyline has to be very tight.

I guess time will tell which, if any of the currently successful writers will go down with the greats.
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Old 10-02-2017, 07:44 AM   #11
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Who expects grocery checkout paperbacks to be great or even tolerable literature?

They're big fat long strokers, folks. That's all.

Wish I had one.
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Old 10-02-2017, 09:31 AM   #12
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King bores me. His stories have no depth, and while I read him to see what makes an author successful, what I mostly learned is that being a successful author just isn't that high on my priority list. He's a good lesson in Keeping It Simple though.

Dan Brown instantly turned me off with his claims that ahistorical myth is in fact historical after all. I'm fine with conspiracy story fiction and all the fun things you can do with historical references - look at my series Chosen for an example. But you don't go around claiming it's all based in reality. People who've read him tell me he can't weave a paragraph right, but he moves fast and puts in twists that hold interest so it all kind of works anyway. As someone who walks away from stories because of clumsy writing before I ever get to page 2, I can tell I'm not his intended audience on several levels.

Sure I'd like to have their money, but I think I'd be dissatisfied with myself if I had King's catalog and horrified at myself if I was Brown. Of the two I'd rather be King.
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Old 10-02-2017, 11:58 AM   #13
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I've read plenty of both. Of the two, King is the better and more interesting writer. His work is very uneven, and his long novels often are way too long, but he's good at what he does, which is coming up with entertaining horror/thriller concepts and playing them out in middle-America settings (usually small towns in Maine). Some of his early short stories are a lot of fun.

Brown is a writer with a certain schtick, and he sticks with it, novel after novel. His books aren't literary masterpieces, but they are brisk, entertaining page-turners, at least until you get weary of the formula, which is always the same.
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Old 10-02-2017, 12:06 PM   #14
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Technically they're both good but like Danielle Steele and Nora Roberts, I just find them boring. Dean Koontz i find a bit more readable but only just.

On the other hand, look at how many books they sell....
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Old 10-02-2017, 12:16 PM   #15
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Nothing Steven King has published or had made into a movie, in my opinion, is anywhere near scary. In fact I have never seen a scary movie. I don't get scared at fiction.

That being said, I have never read anything by King. I did see a couple of his movies and was completely bored out of my mind.

As for Dan Brown, haven't read anything he has written.

For what it's worth, King is a blowhard who stumbled into success because he came along at a time when the dumb masses wanted to be scared.
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Old 10-02-2017, 02:38 PM   #16
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In the early days of microcomputing, tech publisher Zybex issued an exploitation series of processor and programming manuals. These were shoddy shit with some useful information hastily squeezed into an clunky package. The same graph 3 times in 2 chapters? The Z80 opcodes reversed? I entertained myself by proofreading and correcting the stuff.

That's how I approach Dan Brown novels. I like books with wide margins for my notes. I scribble a lot there. His biggy Da Vinci Code was a straight steal from Baigent and Leigh's Holy Blood, Holy Grail but he didn't even get the plagiarism right. But yeah, they're fun page-turners for the naive.

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Old 10-04-2017, 02:14 AM   #17
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King is one of the most overrated authors on the planet by genre readers and one of the most underrated by literary types. The man can write, and he can slow burn with the best of them. Odds are, unless you've got some significant talent that you've polished by writing a few million words during your life, he's better than you. He is prone to rambling and some of his books can get a little thick in the middle, but he takes way too much flak from undergraduate students and armchair authors whom he would write under the table any day of the week.

Brown...is unremarkable as a writer, but he's proven himself an apt storyteller with a penchant for pleasing large swaths of fans, even if his nuts and bolts style rubs more exotic craftsmen the wrong way. He is the Gwen Stefani of the writing world: blessed with neither talent nor singular creativity, but possessed of a charismatic, accessible quality that puts asses in seats. Brown will inlay his casket with the bones of better writers who never sniffed his impact.

Writing, like music, has never been a contest of talent or skill, but rather appeal. Arguing against a successful writer's ability in regard to their popularity is as silly as raging against The Ramones because they outsold Theloniois Monk.

Songs sell, not talent and ability. Stories are much the same.
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Old 10-05-2017, 12:48 PM   #18
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He is the Gwen Stefani of the writing world: blessed with neither talent nor singular creativity . . .
I can't help but feel like this comparison is a teensy bit unfair to Stefani. But one can't argue with the general point.
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Old 10-05-2017, 02:49 PM   #19
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King is one of the most overrated authors on the planet by genre readers and one of the most underrated by literary types. The man can write, and he can slow burn with the best of them. Odds are, unless you've got some significant talent that you've polished by writing a few million words during your life, he's better than you. He is prone to rambling and some of his books can get a little thick in the middle, but he takes way too much flak from undergraduate students and armchair authors whom he would write under the table any day of the week.

Brown...is unremarkable as a writer, but he's proven himself an apt storyteller with a penchant for pleasing large swaths of fans, even if his nuts and bolts style rubs more exotic craftsmen the wrong way. He is the Gwen Stefani of the writing world: blessed with neither talent nor singular creativity, but possessed of a charismatic, accessible quality that puts asses in seats. Brown will inlay his casket with the bones of better writers who never sniffed his impact.

Writing, like music, has never been a contest of talent or skill, but rather appeal. Arguing against a successful writer's ability in regard to their popularity is as silly as raging against The Ramones because they outsold Theloniois Monk.

Songs sell, not talent and ability. Stories are much the same.
This is well said, although I agree with Cyrano that it's just a bit unfair to Gwen Stefani. I think Taylor Swift is a better comparison; she has a mediocre voice and utterly formulaic songs, but she's got a schtick and she knows how to work it.
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Old 10-05-2017, 05:37 PM   #20
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Who cares how talented or not particular commercial authors are?

They sell books as a product and make money. That is important. Whether I or you like what they write is irrelevant.

There is an audience for many types of story-telling. Whether the book will be remembered decades later doesn't matter.

In his era Bulwer-Lytton sold almost as many books as Charles Dickens but now he's remembered for "It was a dark and stormy night..."

In the 1930s Walter Pater and A J Cronin were considered great writers of literary merit. Who reads them now?

Who reads Sapper, Jeffrey Farnol, Raphael Sabatini? All three of them outsold Conrad and D H Lawrence - then.

An author's legacy is unknowable to the contemporaries.
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Old 10-05-2017, 05:46 PM   #21
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Old 10-07-2017, 04:57 AM   #22
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Old 10-07-2017, 10:06 AM   #23
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Funny, though.
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Old 10-07-2017, 01:43 PM   #24
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It's nice to know he has a sense of humor. I'm sure he's laughing all the way to the bank.
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Old 10-07-2017, 01:57 PM   #25
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In his era Bulwer-Lytton sold almost as many books as Charles Dickens but now he's remembered for "It was a dark and stormy night..."
I really want to know why this is considered the epitome of bad writing. Is it just the redundancy of 'dark' and 'night'? Because some nights really are darker than others...
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