Toby Clements: The Asti Spumante Code

One must be a quite experienced writer to succeed in writing a parody thriller both with an interesting — yet original, not plagiated — plot and with funny references to the parodied story and the parodied author’s writing style. I think Toby Clements has succeeded pretty well with The Asti Spumante Code.

It’s worth considering if parody is a somewhat inferior genre in being a "copy", riding with the success of the original literal work. In order to be an "honest" work of art, a parody must have so much originality in it that the author’s skills can be acknowledged. This can be said of The Asti Spumante Code, I think, because it just loosely follows the pattern of The Da Vinci Code (my review in Finnish), without copying the details. Many of the funny bits of the book come from the original details made up by Clements, the author.

Plot summary: The Asti Spumante Code, from which the book derives its name, is a kind of an instruction manual for authors that is supposed to include the recipe of a perfect book — such a perfect book that if published, no one would any longer read any other books. The publishing industry naturally doesn’t want the Code to be realised in a book, of course. Some of the book’s crooks are an assassin hired by publishers, people wanting to acquire the Code in order to blackmail the publishing industry, and police authorities, who are also incredibly stupid. The most sinister of the characters are albinoes.

The book’s plot takes off from Bruxelles (not from Paris like in The Da Vinci Code, so it’s not a copy, see!) and takes the "heroes" through Eurotunnel to Great Britain. The author, a Briton, includes in his book abundant puns against the European Union, anti-terrorist legislation that narrows civil rights, and authorities enforcing this legislation. The publishing policy of today’s publishing industry gets its share, too, I think.


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