Stacy and I decided to no longer be the two remaining people in America who hadn’t read The Da Vinci Code. For our midwest road trip, we loaded up the iPod mini with the audiobook version, our companion between cities.
The book, to put it simply, is a hoot. And I don’t mean that in a good way. It’s easily the most clumsily written narrative I’ve worked through in a long time. While Brown clearly has a facility for clever tricks and puzzles, the man cannot write character or dialog to save himself. We gave up counting how many times a character would say, “What in the hell…?!” or “What the devil…?!”
Sharing the audiobook afforded us a Mystery Science Theater 3000-like experience. While the outrageous plot points received scorn, the bulk of our wrath was directed to narrator Paul Michael’s performance of the characters. If you’ve read the book, you know you’ve got Americans, French, Spanish, and the British… And Mr. Michael ends up playing all of these comically broadly, with accents that only Dick van Dyke could love.
I don’t think I could have handled actually reading the book (well, not without skipping large swaths), but I was surprised how much fun sharing the audiobook could be. What perhaps surprised us most is that, over the course of the week, we didn’t finish the damn thing. The unabridged version runs 16 hours (!). It took the full four hours on the plane ride home to finally top it off.
This morning I stumbled across the Wikipedia’s entry on the book. It does an admirable job of providing context, explaining some of Brown’s in-jokes, and debunking the premise upon which the book stands.