Dan Brown

The writer who goes by the pen name Mai Jia is the most popular author in the world you’ve never heard of. 

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Yesterday the world learned of an early Christian text that mentions Jesus' wife. Here are three other surprising heresies from outside the canon

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Conspiracy Porn

The Prague Cemetery By Umberto Eco (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 445 pp., $27) Barack Obama is a Kenyan-born communist jihadist. The Mossad staged the attacks of September 11. Vince Foster was murdered on the orders of his lover, the notorious lesbian Hillary Clinton. The United States government is concealing the wreckage of an alien spacecraft that crashed in New Mexico in 1947. A secret society named the Priory of Sion protects the living descendants of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. It is tempting to think that we are living in a golden age of conspiracy theories.

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Carded

The Original of Laura By Vladimir Nabokov Edited by Dmitri Nabokov (Knopf, 304 pp., $35)   So this is what we’ve all been waiting for? The last, lost work of the great master, all but complete, so rumor had it, at the time of his death, sequestered for decades in a Swiss vault, “brilliant, original, and potentially totally radical,” according to his son and heir, “the most concentrated distillation of [my father’s] creativity”--and all that it amounts to, we now learn, is a handful of crumbs, a bit of lint, a few coins.

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The Beck Supremacy

When Vince Flynn recently finished writing his eleventh novel, Pursuit of Honor, he sent an advance copy to Rush Limbaugh, along with some special reading instructions. Upon arriving at Chapter 50, he told the radio host in a note inscribed on the chapter’s first page, “open one of your bottles of Lafite and grab a cigar and savor these words.” Flynn self-published his first political thriller twelve years ago but, today, has a seven-figure contract with an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

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Crashing Symbols

New York magazine's Sam Anderson gathers a club to read Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol so that you (and I) don't have to: But who would be its members? Heart pounding, Anderson took out a sheet of paper and drew a quadralinear grid. The ancient Foursquare of Communal Exegesis. In all his years as a book critic, he’d never had to use this. In fact, he’d always dismissed it as a myth. But tonight he saw no better option. Slowly, he filled in the grid: Gibberish. Anderson had no idea how these unrelated figures were supposed to help him choose the members of his book club.

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McLEAN, Va.--Will the bitter, smoldering feelings let loose by Washington's health care fight ricochet across the Potomac River and decide Virginia's race for governor? Will a Republican be able to escape his right-wing record and his incendiary past writings to rebrand himself as a pragmatist? The battle for the Virginia statehouse always gets outsized national attention because of its unusual timing, just a year after a presidential election.

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So declared Dan Brown at the launch party for his new book The Lost Symbol. In a related literary observation, he noted that "The best part of a novel is the interior dialogue"--I think he means "monologue" here--"that you don't get in a movie or in actual life." Of course, you do get it in movies that feature voiceover and, in "actual life," if your own thoughts are accessible to you. Still, I take his point. In any case, the folks at Vulture have cracked open a copy of The Lost Symbol to explore the myriad ends to which Brown uses interior-monologue italics (and ellipses!).

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Pop Esoterica!

The Da Vinci Code By Dan Brown (Doubleday, 454 pp., $24.95) The Rule of Four By Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason (The Dial Press, 372 pp., $24) Breaking the Da Vinci Code: Answers to the Questions Everyone's Asking By Darrel L. Bock (Nelson Books, 188 pp., $19.99) Q By Luther Blissett (Harcourt, 750 pp., $26) DESPITE PREVAILING GOSSIP in the groves of academe, people still like their Renaissance, with its prancing nymphs, striplings in hose, and Venus on the half-shell, an endless Primavera with Lorenzo de' Medici presiding benignly over the pagan rites.

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