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Ugh

with 3 comments

So I’m reading The Lost Symbol. It’s bad. It’s probably the worst of Brown’s novels thus far. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I expect great art or anything, and Brown is a famously bad writer. But as I’ve said many times, he’s a one trick pony whose trick I don’t mind watching.

But this. Lord have mercy. The seemingly endless number of flashbacks that only exist to create suspense? The seemingly endless reference to Langdon’s claustrophobia? Nevermind that the chapters seem to have been organized at random.

Take this, for example. Langdon and Katherine find themselves on the verge of opening a family heirloom that has been sealed in a box for a century. This is what ensues:

Langdon jumped. “Katherine, no! Wait!”

She paused, but her finger remained beneath the string. “Robert, I’m not going to let my brother die for this. Whatever this capstone says . . . whatever lost treasures this engraving might reveal . . . those secrets end tonight.”

With that, Katherine yanked defiantly on the twine, and the brittle wax seal exploded.

Ignore the overuse of ellipsis. Here’s one question: how does one yank “defiantly” on twine? I dare you. Go tie a knot with some twine and try to yank “defiantly” on it. She might have looked at Langdon defiantly and then yanked. But yanking defiantly? On a string? Which is by definition not strong? In a “brittle wax seal”? She might as well go defiantly untying her shoes.

And then it gets worse. The seal exploded? Seriously? It exploded?? Something explodes because of internal energy that is suddenly released—that’s why it begins with ex-, for God’s sake. So what was this internal energy that emerged out of the “brittle wax seal”? The twine? Her defiant tug? Can brittle things explode, anyway? Don’t brittle things shatter?

And that’s really just one sentence.

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Written by srogers

December 28, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. It can’t be a recent phenomenon, but I’ve noticed this more the past 10 years or so: the overuse and/or abuse of the ellipsis. My theory is it’s a crutch for people who don’t know how to punctuate. I’ve seen it crop up more and more in business emails and even advertising. Overuse is one problem. The other is people using 4 or 5 or more periods in their ellipsis. It doesn’t work that way, people.

    Todd

    December 28, 2009 at 10:26 pm

  2. My students will often have a minor freakout when I tell them that this—”. . .”— is a punctuation mark and that this—”…….”—is nonsense.

    scott

    December 28, 2009 at 10:34 pm

  3. Did you ever read Neddie Jingo’s review of The Da Vinci Code? If not, I recommend it.

    Linkmeister

    December 29, 2009 at 6:29 pm


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