Friday, May 08, 2009

Jodi Picoult Not a Fan of Dan Brown

Right up front, I'll admit that Dan Brown is one of a handful of writers I find it great fun to ridicule on a regular basis. In fact, he is second on my "chuckle list" only to that factory of writers collectively known as James Patterson. Patterson, though, is in a league of his own and should not feel threatened that he will loose his number one slot anytime soon.

Dan Brown is the fellow getting all the attention at the moment, however, and even a few of his fellow writers cannot resist taking a shot or two at him. From The Guardian comes news that Jodi Picoult is getting in on the fun:
Graciously allowing that she doesn't "deny Dan Brown any of his success", Picoult went on to pick apart Brown's best-known novel, declaring that the code-cracking thriller left her cold. "I don't understand the hype over such a poorly written novel - and as an author who does all her own research, I know better than to consider myself an expert in the field I am writing about," she told the Daily Mail. "I believe this was an error in judgment for this particular author."

Calling Brown "the author that his peers love to hate," the newspaper notes that this kind of criticism is nothing new.
Salman Rushdie memorably laid into him in lecture he gave at the University of Kansas in 2005, during which he called The Da Vinci Code "a novel so bad that it gives bad novels a bad name". The Booker prize winner did, however, allow that despite the apparent paucity of his writing, Brown should be allowed to continue living. "Even Dan Brown must live," he said. "Preferably not write, but live."
I suspect that Mr. Brown, who most likely outsells his critics by multiples of 10 or more, is laughing all the way to the bank - but his books definitely make him a soft target for this kind of criticism.


  1. Jodi Picoult is at the top of my list of writers to ridicule. Her research is pitiful. Her legal scenes are laughable and stupid. I read them to my husband, an attorney, to give him some laughs!

    A shame..... because she used to be a decent writer, 20 years ago, before she started churning out books.

    I listened to one of her books on audio (I was desperate, what can I say?) and at the risk of life and limb, I took notes on the inconsistencies, the overuse of similes, and the poorly researched material.

    I typed up this list of what can only be called CRAP and sent it to her publisher. Of course, I got no response!

  2. JoAnn, the only Picoult novel I've ever read (actually it was an audio book) was "Nineteen Minutes." I picked it up because I thought she might offer some insights into school violence, bullying, etc. It was an OK book until it turned into a romance novel - a boring thing about one of the mothers and the detective in charge of the case. I was underwhelmed by the book and I haven't tried her again.

    The best I can say about Picoult, at this point, is that she's not Danielle Steele.

  3. Dan Brown and Jodi Piccoult are two of the chief reasons that I stopped reading bestselling fiction. The other two reasons are a book called "The Lovely Bones" and another called "The Nanny Diaries."

  4. Bestselling generally means that it appeals to the lowest common denominator, Alissa. There are some worthy books that make the lists, but you really have to wade through the trash to find them. It really is a shame that some our our best writers are never financially rewarded as well as those who hit the bestseller lists year after year.

  5. Suzi, it's starting to look as if Picoult has opened up a can of worms she might regret having opened. :-)

  6. I do like Jodi's stories -- hey, a good plot is a good plot -- but I had to roll my eyes in one story when they suggested stopping in Graceland on their drive back from Orlando to New Hampshire with the daughter with the broken bones. Because, you know, Memphis is on the way. And because if you have a kid with painful broken bones in an uncomfortable cast, you want to dally and take in the sights.

  7. It was the plot of "Nineteen Minutes" that sucked me in, Factotum...but the attached romance novel was a real letdown to see.

    Maybe she doesn't know how to read a map? :-)

    She did say that she knows better to consider herself an expert on the topics she researches - she got that right, looks like.

  8. Picoult Versus Brown does sound like a professional wrestling match-up to me.

  9. Maybe one of those "Steel Cage" matches, John? I'd pay to see that. :-)

  10. I once actually read Picoult's defense of her lousy research for her book that took place in Amish country....that she had spent four days with the Amish. WOW!!! four days!!!

    Oh, and she also said that the reason none of her female main characters have good friends (or any friends for that matter) is because that advances the plot since she is so isolated.


  11. Not a Jodi P fan at all I admit, but the Dan Brown books are the pits. I really cannot understand how they got published and have had to give up on the Da V code, tried several times but after three pages I have an urgent desire to run screaming off the edge of a cliff. The movie was shown on TV in the UK last night and I gave it a whirl but it was so BAD I could not believe it. After an hour I realised I did not know what was going on and did not care so switched off.

    When I think how many good writers there are who probably cannot get pubvlished and then look at Dan Brown, well it is all Too Much to Bear...

  12. Thanks for the post -- gave me a good laugh. I can't believe Picoult made fun of Brown. Neither of them are going to win a Pulitzer, they should be happy just entertaining readers.

  13. Four days of deep research, JoAnn? Why doesn't this surprise me?

    From what you say about her plots, sounds as if she has her formula down pat.

  14. I wholeheartedly agree, Elaine. When I look at the bestseller list and compare it to the TBR stack on my desk, it never fails to tick me off. My desk is stacked with "unknowns" who can write circles around most bestselling writers.

  15. Very true, Jess. They are both very wealthy people now and they got that way doing what they do. I think they have more in common than Jodi wants to admit.