5 Following

Manny Rayner's book reviews

I love reviewing books - have been doing it at Goodreads, but considering moving here.

Currently reading

The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence For Evolution
Richard Dawkins
R in Action
Robert Kabacoff
Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies
Douglas R. Hofstadter
McGee on Food and Cooking: An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture
Harold McGee
Epistemic Dimensions of Personhood
Simon Evnine
Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning (Information Science and Statistics)
Christopher M. Bishop
Relativity, Thermodynamics and Cosmology
Richard C. Tolman
The Cambridge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition
Julia Herschensohn, Martha Young-Scholten
The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown Fellow Goodreaders, I have a confession to make. (Strikes Abe Lincoln pose). No, I haven't actually read it, if that's what you're thinking. But, in a way, it's worse. The fact is, I... er... I... I'm sorry, this is rather difficult for me... I once, ah, I once wrote a letter to a national newspaper supporting Dan Brown's book. And had it published.

OK, I've said it, and now I feel better. (Wipes sweat from forehead). I tried to find the offending item just now on Google, but it looks as though well-meaning people have done their best to hide the evidence. I'd really like to thank them for that. Anyway, if you search on my name and "Da Vinci Code" or "Dan Brown", you'll find pointers to it, though I've so far been unable to retrieve the actual text.

As far as I can recall, the background was roughly as follows. A columnist in the Independent, Christina Patterson, had written an article in which she dismissively attacked The Da Vinci Code, and cited a recent interview with the author. Mr Brown had been asked why he thought his book was a success, and had said something about how he believed that what people liked was books with "puzzles and treasure hunts". Patterson remarked with evident contempt that there were no puzzles and treasure hunts in, if I'm remembering correctly, Shakespeare, Dickens or Tolstoy.

Well... I'm a big fan of due process. I thought Saddam Hussein was a monster who deserved death fifty times over; but I opposed the Iraq War on the grounds that virtually the only bad thing he hadn't done was to harbor secret weapons of mass destruction, which was the ostensible reason for invading his country. My feelings about Dan Brown were similar. So the letter pointed out that Ms. Patterson was just cherry-picking her authors. As far as I was aware, she was quite correct in saying that Shakespeare, Dickens and Tolstoy didn't do puzzles and treasure-hunts; but if she'd wanted to argue the contrary position, she could just as easily have cited Lewis Carroll, James Joyce and Vladimir Nabokov. The real problem with Dan Brown was not the subject matter, but the quality of the writing.

Sigh. I thought I'd better come clean. I'd rather that you hear it from me directly than, you know, just stumble over it by accident when you're following a random link. Maybe, some day, you'll be able to forgive me. And while we're talking about Dan Brown and random links, check this out. It's much funnier than my so-called review.