Dan Brown, who was criticised by his fellow best-selling novelist Philip Pullman last week for his ‘flat, stunted and ugly’ prose, has won sympathy from John Grisham.
“I know that what I do is not literature,” says Grisham, who has sold more than 250 million copies of his legal thrillers such as The Pelican Brief and The Firm.
“For me, the essential component of fiction is plot. My objective is to get the reader to feel impelled to turn the pages as quickly as possible. If I want to achieve that, I can’t allow myself the luxury of distracting him. I have to keep him hanging on and the only way to do it is by using the weapons of suspense. There is no other way.”
“If I try to understand the complexities of the human soul, people’s character defects and those types of things, the reader gets distracted.”
The American author adds: “Of course, I’ve read literature in the classic sense. We’ve all got those type of books on the shelves at home. They made me read them at school and I admit that I didn’t like them much. I couldn’t understand why they were said to be so good.”
As The Lost Symbol, Brown’s follow-up to The Da Vinci Code, was published last week, Pullman, who has sold 15 million books, said his rival author populated his novels with “completely flat and two-dimensional” characters.
“His basic ignorance about the way people behave is astonishing, talking in utterly implausible ways to one another,” he said. “All the usual literary things he just doesn’t know how to do, but he’s not interested in those and nor are his millions of readers. There’s nothing wrong in writing as he does, but it is not great writing.”