Dear Mr. Brown:
I have to confess, I was a little bit embarrassed that I was looking forward to your book as much as I was. I refused to order it in advance, but really, I did want to read it. I was excited about it. I knew that I was going to do about the only thing I can do with your books, buy them, curl up on the couch, and read them in an entire sitting. Since I read extraordinarily quickly, this meant that I should be able to read all 509 pages in one sitting, about 4 hours. A headache meant it took only slightly longer.
I liked Da Vinci code. The theology was profoundly ahem, dubious, and the history was dead wrong, but it was a quick read, engaging, and active. I mean a race through the streets of Paris, and Leonardo? How could that be bad? I liked Angels and Demons, and found the science interesting, and I liked the inclusion of the Catholic Priest (although, I wondered what it is you have against organized religion)
So, I was prepared. I was prepared for wrongness, I was prepared for bad history and junk science. I was prepared for carved up people and weird mystical orders and strange symbols. That is, after all, your stock in trade. I knew that you were going to use some bit of scripture, wrongly, and I was going to have to explain to people that the Bible uses that verse, yes, but not the way Mr. Brown says it does.
Maybe, Mr. Brown, it escaped you – what with the quest for religious mumbo-jumbo, junk science and strange hidden orders that exist among us, maybe it escaped you what the job of a writer really is. There is a sort of contract between writers and readers, Mr. Brown. You agree to do some things, and so do I.
For my part, I agree to suspend my disbelief and any insistence on characters who act logically, not expect you to get theology correct, not expect you to get geography correct, and not think to closely about the odd coincidences and the torturous logic that gets Robert Langdon in these situations. I do this because the entire point of any book, at least on some level is to be entertained, and as near as I can figure it, the only redeeming quality of your books, is that they entertain me.
So, Mr. Brown, if I agree to do all of those things – what do you agree to do? Oh, yes. That’s right. You agree to write a new book. A new piece of fiction, where new things happen, and there is a cliff hanger that I can’t see miles away. You agree to not just change the location, but also the characters and the premise. You agree to write a novel that is, well, novel.
And this, Mr. Brown, is not a new book. No, sir, you gave it a new title, and you changed the location, and you changed the name of a few characters, but it is not a new book.
You changed the name of the characters sir, but you didn’t create new characters. There’s an elderly fatherly figure, there’s a beautiful and smart woman, there’s a police inspector (ok, it’s a woman this time) and there’s a shadowy evil man in the background, consumed with quasi religious demons, who’s really actually mentally ill. And sir, that is the exact – I mean exact – set of characters as the Da Vinci Code, and as Angels and Demons. And sir, the discovery at the end of the Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, and The Lost Symbol, it is the same discovery. Oh, different words, but always a play on words, always the central truth that (insert dramatic music here) everything you know is wrong.
And Sir, I’m not sure how many times you and I can go through this fiction of you pretending to write a new book, and me pretending to be surprised by a conclusion I predicted at about page 4. If you want to write about truths that turn everything on their heads, if you wanted to write about conspiracies, write about how Doubleday has published the same book, by the same author, 3 times, calling it a new book.
That Sir? That’s a conspiracy I have something invested in.