Sunday, May 21, 2006

Just think: It could've been 'Dr. Dan.'

It's not commonly known (and the guy's official pub takes great pains to downplay the fact), but The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown actually launched his writing career in August 1995 with the tongue-in-cheek title, 187 Men to Avoid: A Guide for the Romantically Frustrated Woman. Brown wrote it in partnership with his wife, Blythe, who is an art historian. The book set no sales records and was not even particularly well received on Amazon, which is typically friendly to such books, even when the reviewer isn't Marilyn R. Barry. I give you, herewith, the title for the most succinct of just four reader reviews* listed on 187 Men's Amazon page:

This book sucks.

The review was submitted on April 4, 1997, by "a reader."

Still, though 187 Men is long out of print, Brown's more recent literary triumphs have elevated available copies to collectible status: One such book, in "very good" condition, is now going for $99.95 on Amazon Marketplace.

Even though the book was mostly parody (Brown's list of 187 types of men to avoid includes those who "write self-help books"), it's fun to contemplate: How might the world be different had his foray into the genre somehow clicked? Would the millions of women** who have bought and read Da Vinci Code instead be tuning in to hear "Dr. Dan" each afternoon? Might his follow-up work have been titled, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From The Vatican? (Or maybe Men and Women: Cracking the Code?) Would Brown's kids (if any; I haven't checked) now have book deals of their very own, to write insipid spin-offs with titles like 187 Adolescent Males to Avoid: A Guide for the Romantically Frustrated Virgin?

I guess we'll never know.

* In contrast, say, to the 3,232 reader reviews currently listed for Brown's more familiar book.
** Almost needless to say, a fair number of men have read the book as well, with some 60 million copies now in print worldwide. And I hear there's a movie out...

1 comment:

thera said...

I'm glad you view Dan's versatile writing talents from the light side, Steve. Why not crack some conspiratory code of your own choice and SHAM will sell in the future for $99,95 too.