vendredi 8 mai 2009

Bad writing

A debate about Dan Brown's latest book flares up over at CiF. The usual argument, high art that no one reads pitted against shit that everyone laps up. However, on the evidence, is Brown so bad? I remember reading the Da Vinci Code, but can remember nothing about it, not even if I liked it. Here is an excerpt:

"Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum's Grand Gallery. He lunged for the nearest painting he could see, a Caravaggio. Grabbing the gilded frame, the seventy-six-year-old man heaved the masterpiece toward himself until it tore from the wall and Saunière collapsed backward in a heap beneath the canvas."

Assuming it is shit, for the moment, wherein doth its shitness lie? The books on how to write say avoid information dumps. But it can't be just that. Perhaps it's that 'until', that suggests he was trying to pull the painting off the wall, maybe it's that 'heap' that the too long second sentence ends withor the 'heaved' which doesn't seem right at all there The general clunkiness is a given. But then again, the guy's sold 100m copies and really couldn't give a shit.

Is it so much worse than this:

"I SUPPOSE you will be getting away pretty soon, now. Full term is over, Professor," said a person not in the story to the Professor of Ontography, soon after they had sat down next to each other at a feast in the hospitable hall of St. James's College.
The Professor was young, neat, and precise in speech.
"Yes," he said; "my friends have been making me take up golf this term, and I mean to go to the East Coast--in point of fact to Burnstow--(I dare say you know it) for a week or ten days, to improve my game. I hope to get off to-morrow." ?

The start of OH, WHISTLE, AND I'LL COME TO YOU, MY LAD" (1904)

It must be something to with rythmn.