Just how marginalized have books become in our culture? I consider myself a fairly aware dude, but here's the thing; I knew nothing about the plot of The Da Vinci Code until the media starting droning on about the film. Now, this isn't some quiet little book of short stories, it's not even a moderate fiction hit. It's the big bazoomba novel of all time, and somehow the secrets of the plot remained a mystery to me. My own wife read the book and she didn't tell me. (The trial? Well, I guess I averted my eyes a bit. I have this strange impulse to not spoil things that I might one day enjoy, even though I doubt very much that I'll ever read The Da Vinci Code.)
There's a covenant among readers, even millions of Dan Brown readers: You don't give away the plot. But now that the marketers of the film have stirred up all of this phony controversy to sell the film, everything is being revealed. Suddenly, the plot is part of the national dialogue in a way that it wasn't when there was no film, and 45 million Americans had the book sitting quietly on their shelf.
Even though the book qualifies as a hit in any medium - any filmmaker would be thrilled to have 45 million folk buy a ticket, beause that's a Speilberg-ian homerun - literary (I use the term loosely) culture just isn't part of the media mix. Book noise isn't loud enough. Now, I don't want to come off like another dorky Cassandra with the New York Review of Books tucked under my arm, railing against the dumbing-down of culture and all that garbage. We all, clandestinely or not, love pop culture, right? Just an observation, is all.