Roger L. Simon

From one hack to another

About a month ago, I posted about the Baigent/Leigh lawsuit over The DaVinci CodeCalling Mr. Holinshed. The other day Kenneth Hite posted much more extensively and informatively on the subject. Though equally as dismissive of B & L as I am, Mr. Hite is less sympathetic to Code author Dan Brown than I, deeming Mr. Brown a “hack.” Perhaps. But a hack is not such an easy thing to be. Many try, but few with remotely the success of Dan Brown. I am not being entirely facetious here either, even though I admit to a certain kinship with Brown (not in the success area), having been called a “hack” by no less than Pauline Kael in the pages of The New Yorker. Actually, she said “author of pop drivel,” basically the same thing. (Sorry, no link – this way pre-dates the Internet.) In any case, I still have my doubts about the merits of Baigent and Leigh’s case even though Brown admits to using the same structure for all his thrillers (so, frequently, did Aeschylus) and to using his wife as a researcher (like Will Durant). I can sympathize to a small extent with Baigent and Leigh, however, who woke up one day to find their relatively mundane ideas turned into a huge international bestseller. How could that be when their books sold fifty copies? Well, maybe it has something to do with character, pace, action, style, etc. Nobody that I know is forcing anybody to read The DaVinci Code, especially not members of Opus Dei.