Dan Brown at Lincoln Center: more about his childhood than 'Inferno'

Dan Brown appeared at Lincoln Center to promote his new novel 'Inferno,' but focused more on his parents and his early years than his Dante-inspired book.

Jason Decrow/Invision/AP
During an event at Lincoln Center, Dan Brown holds up a book he wrote when he was young.

Author Dan Brown has been on a media circuit plugging his latest blockbuster-in-the-making, “Inferno.” But, according to reports, he’s talking surprisingly little about the actual book.

Brown spoke with Today host Matt Lauer Wednesday evening at the Lincoln Center in New York where, it seems, he talked more about his parents, childhood, and upbringing than he did about his book.

Nonetheless, the conversation was revealing.

 It turns out the constant tension between science and religion apparent in Brown’s books are inspired by his childhood.

“I grew up the child of a church organist and a math teacher,” Brown told the crowd of 2,000, introducing his parents, who were sitting in the audience. “I was pretty much confused from day one.”

To illustrate his point, Brown brought along props: personalized license plates from both his parents’ cars: KYRIE for his “Church Lady” mom, METRIC for his rationalist dad, as Shelf Awareness reported. 

From childhood, he said, he became curious about the delicate balancing act between science and religion. 

“How do we become modern, science-minded people without losing our faith?” he asked aloud.

In a video introducing the author, fans also learned the extent of Brown’s love of puzzles and intrigue: His New Hampshire home, it turns out, is filled with secret passageways.

Fans eager to hear more about “Inferno” didn’t leave entirely disappointed, however. Brown left them with three words that summarized the themes of his book: “Contrapposto,” the Italian word for “suffering the opposite,” which Dante’s victims do in hell when they suffer “ironic reversals of their misdeeds in life;” “transhumanism,” the futuristic science of engineering superior beings and the ethical problems associated with it; and “Malthusia,” the theory that the human race will end due to a collapse following exponential population growth.

All in all, it was a more revealing conversation than Brown’s awkward appearance on the Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert Tuesday evening.

That interview revealed even less about the bestselling author. Perhaps a deliberate attempt to maintain the mystery surrounding Dan Brown and his books?

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

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