The Dan Brown Diversion

Some say 2009 will be the novel's best year ever-no thanks to The Lost Symbol. What makes literary news? A new Dan Brown...

Some say 2009 will be the novel's best year ever-no thanks to The Lost Symbol.

What makes literary news? A new Dan Brown novel! Brown, the ginormous bestseller, published his long-awaited follow-up to that most-cited book on "what did you last read?" online profiles, The Da Vinci Code. I do not have the heart to search for numbers of copies of The Lost Symbol sold, so let's just leave it at "more than one million." Even better, the book was going cheap. Against any logic I can muster in my musty artsy brain, The Lost Symbol was offered for 50 percent off the day it was released.

The mega-book series Harry Potter announced another blockbuster, too. A new ride, "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey," will be unveiled at Universal's Island of Adventure in Orlando next spring. It will cost $200 million dollars to create Hogsmeade station, Zonko's, and Honeyduke, "where you can purchase an array of jokes and gags and sweets." Hogwarts will be the "Parthenon of Orlando," said the art director. The castle will not be a Disney castle, he continues, but "very real, based in fact" (huh?). A literary themepark is not a new idea-you can already jump on the "Great Expectations Boat Ride" at Dickens World in Kent.

Everyone covers these literary spectacles: CNN, New York Times Book Review, US Magazine. Brown and Potterworld may be middlebrow forms of conspicuous consumption, or they may be release valves that siphon off the pressures of cultural elitism. They both probably deliver on their promises of a good ride.

What I dislike about the press surrounding these events is the sanctimony that often accompanies what is, at root, an exercise in money-making. Somehow, because The Lost Symbol and Harry Potter are books, they are seen as somehow better, purer even, than, say, a network sitcom or unsponsored roller coaster. And news of their release eclipses other new books.

You wouldn't know it watching the news, but a glut of incredible novels have been hitting the shelves all fall. This embarrassment of riches has led some, such as the Vroman's Bookstore blog, to claim 2009 as the "best book year ever." Better, even, than 1953 when Invisible Man beat out The Old Man and The Sea and East of Eden for the National Book Award.

Here is a partial list of excellent 2009 titles that aren't by Dan Brown:

Lorrie Moore's A Gate At The Stairs

Dan Chaon's Await Your Reply

E.L. Doctorow's Homer & Langley

Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice

There are more to be published later this month and in October (just wait until Richard Powers' Generosity comes out). The literary world is not lying down and giving in to easy reading. The contrary-the fall heavyweights seem to be lined up and ready to defend their corner. Bring on the Dan Brown. The American literary novel is alive and well-if not on CNN.

via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

Yes, you read that right, "history of polling."

Keep Reading Show less
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.


In the category of "claims to fame nobody wants," the United States can now add "exporter of white supremacist ideology" to its repertoire. Super.

Russell Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, made this claim in a briefing at The Washington Institute in Washington, D.C. "For almost two decades, the United States has pointed abroad at countries who are exporters of extreme Islamist ideology," Travers said. "We are now being seen as the exporter of white supremacist ideology. That's a reality with which we are going to have to deal."

Keep Reading Show less

Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News