A TOPIC LEFT BEHIND: My Reasoncolumn today is about the whole Da Vinci Code phenomenon. One topic I meant to explore, but couldn't quite fit into the piece, was the conspiracy-lit phenom of the last decade: the evangelical thriller Left Behind. That book launched a series of novels about the Rapture and the holy melee that follows; like The Da Vinci Code, it has a rather scattershot approach to accuracy. I'm not even talking about the whole Rapture-theology mess. I mean it treats the word "monetarists" as a synonym for "bankers," includes a group that calls itself "the Jewish Nationalists," and in one Internet-oriented scene seems unable to tell the difference between uploading and downloading. Whenever the book discusses finance, journalism, or global politics, it feels like a cowboy novel would if the author's only exposure to his topic was a series of Marlboro ads.
With protagonists as wooden as its prose, Left Behind comes alive exactly once in its 320 pages: when one of the characters converts to Christianity. Then the writing is raw but compelling -- for once the authors are describing something they have some experience with, and it shows.
You won't find that sort of earnestness in The Da Vinci Code. It's the sort of book that will preach a feminist message about the suppression of the "sacred feminine" while frequently treating its leading female character as a prop. Dan Brown claims to embrace the historical theories woven into his plot, but the only thing I'm pretty sure he believes in is the power of the cliffhanger.
Where am I going with this? I'm not sure. Like I said, I never did manage to fit it into the rest of the article.
But as long as I'm promoting myself: I'm still posting at Reactionary Radicals, including a long rant about Greil Marcus's "old, weird America." And I have a review of James Bovard's book Attention Deficit Democracy in the June 5 edition of The American Conservative. I like that magazine -- it has room for all sorts of oddball libertarians and Tory anarchists -- but you take a certain risk when you write for it: The same page where my article begins features an ad headlined "Senator Joseph McCarthy was Right!"