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Yesterday at 10 AM I got an e-mail saying that a copy of The Lost Symbol would be arriving momentarily, by messenger. Yesterday at 3:30 PM I finally trudged over to the Random House building, flagged down a publicity assistant, and actually got a copy. (The messenger copy eventually did show up, at 5:00.) At 9:30 last night, I filed my review.

It’s here.


For obvious reasons the style is a bit looser than my usual Time reviews. It reminded me of the bad old days of speed-reviewing Harry Potter. Though reviewing Brown is a lot easier. Here’s the nub:

What he did for Christianity in Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code, Brown is now trying to do for America: reclaim its richness, its darkness, its weirdness. It’s probably a quixotic effort, but it is nevertheless touchingly valiant. We’re not just overweight tourists in T-shirts and fanny packs, he says. Our history is as sick and weird as anybody’s! There’s signal in the noise, order in the chaos! It just takes a degree from a nonexistent Harvard department to see it.

The one thing I left out of that review, in order not to be spoilery, and kind of mean, is that book’s ending is … really not good. Say what you like about The Da Vinci Code — say it damn you, say it! — the Grail thing at the end was a nice reveal. There isn’t much in Freemasonry, let alone noetic “science,” that can carry that kind of emotional weight.

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