Friday, September 18, 2009

Dan Brown-ed Up

Friday is both round up day and Eric's day of rest (he gets very cranky without breaks). Thus, as always on Fridays, Laura (cue sweet tunes).

Fact: I am 30 pages into The Lost Symbol. Fact: every minute I spend writing this post is a minute I will not be reading. Fact: I don't care that a lot of you are Dan Brown haters—I, too, am often a DBH. But I am also a complete and utter hypocrite who is secretly into both mysteries and scoffing, and this book lends itself to both! So round up ahoy, the weekly contest makes its triumphant return, and if you mock my reading habits in the comments I will totally disemvowel you (and that, Nathan, is how you deal with sucky anonymous comments—castrate them by nom-ing their vowels).

Although I'm reading The Lost Symbol, I'm super sick of reading about it (and exposing myself to potential spoilers for you people—you're welcome), so here is the super condensed version of everything about the book that happened this week: TLS was embargoed, but rules don't apply to the New York Times or the LA Times, which kind of sucked for the Waterstone and Borders people who were going to speed read it and be the first to review. If you don't want to read it, the Guardian spoils it, but otherwise you can read embargo respecting reviews from the National Post and Omnivoracious, or read Gawker and Phillip Pullman give Brown some serious shit. The book broke the one day sales record by selling a million books, set a UK sales record, sold more e-books than print books on Amazon, and saved Random House, hurray!

Feelings are mixed about good old Dan—he'll either be the ruin of us all, or is a great student of human nature, highlighting our need for secrets. We shouldn't hate him, even though he's totally wrong about everything in DC, and lied about professors of symbology existing at all. Maybe he just needed an unsolicited editor, or a plot generator, or some good theories. If only he weren't fettered by the golden handcuffs of bestseller-dom...

I'm sure Robert Langdon didn't need this, but just in case, here's a guide to books that teach manliness. I'm sure Dan Brown doesn't need this either, but T-Rex has broken new ground in post-modern detective novels. That's right. Dinosaurs explain everything. Except for, well, why publishers hate books. Or why no one will read your script, or publish your book (but Jeff VanderMeer will read it for cookies—thanks Jeff!).

If you, in your infinite kindness, want to read the work of others, Fantasy Magazine needs slush readers. Before you apply you should read this steampunk FAQ, and this explanation of all sorts of punks (not the street corner kind, the sci-fi kind), even though some people think the punks are dumb. We'll see what they say when the street corner and sci-fi punks band together, become the Warriors, and come out to play.

Punk haters are, of course, literary snobs. They tell us that having a volunteer army is the reason there hasn't been any great war literature in Iraq and Afghanistan (because living through a war—not good enough for the hoi polloi, oh no!). From America, anyway—Denmark isn't having that problem. That arbiter of taste, Bin Laden, has thrown his literary choices into the ring, yet he didn't choose any Kafka, which we all know makes you smarter.

The publishing elite tell us why the industry doomed—because "[g]enuine literary discernment is often a liability in editors." Sales show that illiterate inbred hicks are buying books (they don't read them, just buy them), so true literary taste is a problem. And good God, Muffy, the e-books are coming! How will people know you're reading Proust on the subway now?

Speaking of literary discernment, I turn to you, great wide world of readers, with an important question. Moonrat and I have been having a discussion about our literary boyfriends. First, a question: can you call Shakespeare? Really? Not cool. And second, this week's contest: tell me about your magical, romantic first date with your literary crush (author or character). Funniest and most emotionally scarring experience (scarring for you, not me) wins eternal glory next week! And, potentially, therapy.


  1. Agreed. Nathan should take your advice. That comment was pure awesomeness.

    Yeah...don't touch Shakespeare. The rat's a bit sensitive about that one. Baring teeth and everything. Scary stuff. Of course, that can all be handled pretty easily with a well-placed spring-trap. I hear the Halfblood Chronicles make good bait. Just saying.

  2. look, i'm sorry, but Shakespeare and Chabon are just mine. that's it. you can call whomever else you like.

  3. I call Judy Blume. As a young boy experiencing the mysteries of puberty myself for the first time, I was in awe of Marget and the different set of complexities she faced. First literary crush, for sure.

  4. I'd be happy to provide the therapy for the winner...although Rick's crush story was sweet, not trauma-inducing. :)

  5. I must admit that my most enduring crush has been historical, not literary (though Abe did write some very bad poetry and some damn good speeches). I was somewhat depressed, though, when I discovered that Lincoln likes Splenda in his coffee; I thought he would be more of a naturalist, you know? He does, however, prefer the Discovery Channel to the History Channel, and he thinks Rush Limbaugh is a dick. In the end, he decided to go back to Mary (he's got a thing for the crazy, and I'm all about being sane), but I occasionally pull out his Second Inaugural and sigh.

    Thanks for the entertaining round up, Laura!

  6. Whoa, this was fun! Thanks Laura!

    First literary crush? Hmm, that would probably be Diarmuid in The Summer Tree, but really the whole Fionavar Tapestry. I was incredibly jealous of Jennifer ("Look, a peach!") and her inability to appreciate Diarmuid for all his beautiful manliness. And in the end she still couldn't tear herself away from Lancelot long enough to appreciate the pure brilliance that was Diarmuid-turned-Arthur. He was a real man. A gorgeous, witty, hunk of a man (ha! Freudian slip! I wrote HUNG OF A MAN before I went back and fixed it, lol) and I think he should have chosen me. That's right. He should have stepped right out of that book and realized *I* was his long lost queen. For his sake, mine, and all the sorry men who followed after him and have just not been able to live up to my first real/literary crush, Diarmuid. *sigh*

  7. Disemvowel! Of the 3 billion, 567 million comments Nathan got on that one, yours is the best. I stopped reading at 2 billion.

    Secrets can be good and I was so disappointed in the Swiss banks for ratting on me.

    Actually, I have a crush on my own protagonist. Is that anything like incest? Protagocest is best? This could explain why there's so much sex in my detective story.

  8. Waitwaitwait...someone will read my book for COOKIES?! Why didn't you say so? ;)

    Disemvowel. Pure genius. Dig it!

    Yup. I'm a little bit in love with my protagonist, too. But since a whopping three people have read my book (oh! four if you include me, I suppose) and I can't pick Shakespeare (huge running joke with a few friends of mine that I'd time travel just to find old Will because I have a *massive* literary crush on the man- I'm with you, Moonrat!), I'll have to pick a good runner up.

  9. I call John Irving and Truman Capote.

    Yes, you have my permission to psychoanalyze me.


  10. I was madly in love with Seigfried Sassoon when I was 14.
    I wrote him a letter.
    He wrote back.
    romance was doomed since he was an 80 yr. old First World War poet and a homosexual too boot.
    I still have the letter.

  11. I totally bow to your superiority! 'Disemvowel' is sheer genius!

    As far as a literary crush goes, I have to admit I'm kind of fickle. I can't remember my 'first', but at the moment, I'm liking Rick Riordan. (Yes, I know it's juvenile fiction and not exactly Shakespeare, but I take my role as a parent seriously and I like to see what my chitlins are reading.)

    Now, if Clive Owen ever writes a book, stand back!

  12. Rupert Venable. So young and silly I was to not see past the less than important facts. He was a software engineer, sports car owner and filled to the brim with that endearing British wit and sensibility. We could have bonded so perfectly over our matching Toshiba laptops, and I would enjoy the aromas of his coffee addiction while not partaking (because coffee stains your teeth and I'm really American about my teeth).

    Then I met his disembodied former mentor, Stan, who had a horrible obsession with the musical selections of Scarlatti. Of course Stan had to be on the first date with us, and wouldn't put anything else on the radio. And then he has the nerve runs off with this dumpy Maree person when I refuse to let him keep Stan I tell you.

  13. The writer who hates them there punks made a few good points, but mainly, I was taken with his use of the term "nerdgassing." That definitely seems like a practice T-Rex should know about! (I mean, it's no arse ropes, but really, what is?)

    Since I know that T-Rex's soulmate is and can only ever be himself, I'm going to go with his creator Ryan North as my (barely) literary crush. I just have to picture Ryan with tiny arms and an enormous ego and I get all swoony.

    He'd pick me up in a carriage drawn by velociraptors and take us to a candlelit dinner on a giant airship called the "Salty Skydog." After dinner, we'd drink copious amounts of champagne and play craps with the Kaiser. Ryan is a terible craps player and would lose over a thousand pounds sterling, but laugh it off with a debonair shake of his gargantuan toothy head. Then, instead of landing with the airship, we'd don goggles and leather jackets and he would speed me back to my house in a glossy wooden biplane, kiss me goodnight, and make me promise to go to Comic Con with him next year.


  14. I had a huge crush on the Phantom of the Opera, and couldn't understand why he loved that idiot Christine. But my crush on Cyrano de Bergerac has been the most enduring. And at least his own crush on Roxanne shows good taste.

  15. Umm, my magic, romantic first date with my literary crush? Most recently, it was while rummaging in a dumpster behind an Army Navy Surplus store in Chicago. I was looking for a good pair of boots. And then I bumped into Henry the time traveling Librarian (yes, of TTTW...and stop gaping at me!). He was naked except for a Sid and Nancy shirt. He needed some pants so I obliged him with mine....and then he dumped Claire for me. True story.

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  17. Wow. Thanks for this opportunity to come out of the closet.

    For years, I've hidden my feelings behind anonymous electrons. Feeling terribly guilty for the fantasy world I've built around my crush, I've been in a downward spiral. Posting on blogs I shouldn't be reading. Eating while posting. And...drinking while posting.

    My excuse? Well, first know the fault is not my own. My crush is too nice to disallow anonymous posting. Yes. I said it. Simply. Too. Nice.

    He's very cute and has this fantastic surfer body. (Which I'll tell you here and now, is mine and not yours).

    Technically, his book hasn't come out yet. But it's about children. Which goes to show how nice he is!

    And I know he reciprocates my feelings. Those Friday publishing roundups? Well, they're really hidden messages to me.

    For example, if you highlight every third letter and fourth vowel, then subtract the square root of the number of letters in the eighth sentence to the end, you'll get it. He's crushing on me too.


    This one's for you.


  18. birthofanovel, HANDS OFF JOHN IRVING. Seriously. I am not messing around.

    Although, apparently all our writer-boyfriends ARE messing around, so maybe I shouldn't get getting so hung up about this...

    My first writer-boyfriend was Stephen King. When I was in elementary school, I tried to find the missing short story that he mentioned in the intro to one of his collections, the one that he asked readers to help him find, because he'd been paid for it but never seen it in print... because then he'd of course want to thank me in person!

    For those of you who aren't King fans, this story had been bought by a porn-mag publisher. I kept an eye out for OLD PORNOS as an elementary school kid so that I'd have an excuse to meet Stephen King. Healthy relationship there, to be sure.

  19. Oh, you want a traumatizing first crush? Well, get ready to get your hands genre-dirty...

    "Here, hon. I haven't read this yet but --" my dad handed me an enormous novel -- "I think you'll like it. It's about people living in the time of the mammoths."
    I met Ayla in the Valley of the Horses. She was everything I wasn't: tall, blonde, able to kill a cave lion to protect her new boyfriend,over eighteen... um, multi-orgasmic...
    I was the weird little smart kid in fourth grade who read all the time. I was 8.
    I read that book until the covers practically fell off, until I understood precisely how both ancient flint-knapping AND fellatio worked, and until (awkward) my dad asked for it back so he could read it...
    Oh, Ayla! You stole my innocence.
    Thanks, I think.

  20. Nikki! I was going to say Jondalar! I was on vacation at my grandma's house during 4th grade and she let me read Clan of the Cave Bear. My parents gave me an awkward explanation of sexual positions when I got home and we were both mortified when they realized I hadn't caught on that anything unusual was happening.

    I used to take hardcover copies to school and sit on them in class b/c they didn't fit in my desk. I wonder what my teachers thought of that...

  21. i am writing my first book, a memoir. I have 9 chapters complete. I have sent 3 query letters. When the manuscript is 100% complete, I will query in an agressive manner. The first 9 chapters have been edited. Thanks.