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ER Escober

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The Givenchy Code: An Homage and A Parody
by ER Escober   

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Books by ER Escober
· The Givenchy Code: An Homage and A Parody
· Not My Bowl Of Rice
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Literary Fiction

ISBN-10:  1413480314 Type: 


Copyright:  Jan 26, 2004

XLibris, Div of Random House
The Givenchy Code

“The Givenchy Code” is a parody of that other ‘code’ novel.

The Holy Grail was not a cup, but it wasn’t Mary Magdalene herself either, who supposedly carried Jesus’ royal blood in her womb and bore Him a child who went on to found France’s Merovingian dynasty. It was something far more extraordinary than that!

Starting with the murder of a prominent French personality in the fragrance industry, “The Givenchy Code” takes us on an exhilarating code-cracking adventure around Paris and beyond and introduces us to Theo Grayhill, a Jesuit priest doing the university lecture circuit on religious characters in Sci-Fi movies; Puca Watson, a budding French cryptographer; Madame Au Swait (pronounced oh-sway), prominent fashion figure, who orchestrated her own death to preserve her myth while continuing to rule the fragrance industry from behind the scenes; and the Frenchman, a sadomasochistic killer-for-hire saddled with Vitiligo, a skin condition resulting from loss of pigment, which produces white patches all over the skin.

"While reading the novel The Da Vinci Code, a parallel story started unfolding in the back of my perversely imaginative mind. The result, “The Givenchy Code”, is my humble attempt at paying homage to Mr. Dan Brown’s page-turning novel, poking benign fun at the ostensibly complex fragrance industry and ultimately, conjecturing an out-of-this- world theory of a story that the Holy Grail was indeed not a cup but a…"

--ER Escober


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Reader Reviews for "The Givenchy Code: An Homage and A Parody"

Reviewed by Elena DeRoche 4/19/2005
Review in Philippine News by Allen Gaborro:

The Givenchy Code: An Homage and A Parody
Allen Gaborro
WHEN Dan Brown’s labyrinthian thriller “The Da Vinci Code” burst onto the literary scene in 2003, it was to be expected that someone with a great deal of imaginative flair and literary moxy would do a spoof of it in some shape or form.

Who could have foreseen that such a person would be a former advertising agency copywriter from the Philippines named E.R. Escober? What Escober has done is virtually superimpose the content and outline of “The Da Vinci Code” with his second attempt at novelcraft, “The Givenchy Code: An Homage and A Parody.”

It is a mark of literary success when the net of humor and satire is cast over an original work by a creative interloper, thereby altering that work into what promises to be a palimpsest of memorable parody.

As Escober writes, “Parody is most effective when the source being mocked is of highest quality and broadest appeal.” By that description then, “The Givenchy Code” (Escober clarifies that “Givenchy” is pronounced “Gah-ven-chee” and not “Zhjee-vahn-shee”) is the author’s equally invigorating and cryptological paean to Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code.”

As an innovative Filipino American writer, Escober takes on the role of the humorist of Brown’s intricate text. In that spirit, he does not try very hard to hide the almost literal similiarities of his narrative to those of the “Da Vinci Code.” On the contrary, Escober closely simulates the structure and atmosphere of Brown’s book, while steering clear of the sensitive borders of plagiarism. But in a world so appreciative of parody, inventive imitation can be considered sacred.

In “The Givenchy Code” you have the hair-raising spectres of cold-blooded murder, conspiratorial machinations, perilous escapades, and intractable mystery afoot with the threat of danger and of the unknown lurking around every corner. Readers of the “Da Vinci Code” will recollect this suspense-filled ambiance filtering through the nooks and crannies of Escober’s tale.

Cynics may scoff at the accepted prescriptions for parody writing and accuse Escober of shamelessly mimicking someone else’s bestselling showpiece.

Unfortunately, this unfair indictment is plainly out there for the worst skeptics to tap into because of, more than anything else, the plot and characters of “The Givenchy Code.”

The resemblances in the actors and in the compositions of the plots between Escober and Brown are striking to the point where you would swear you were reading “The Da Vinci Code” all over again.

The two leading characters in “The Givenchy Code”, Jesuit Father Theodore Grayhill and Puca Givenchy, have their approximate counterparts in Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu in the “Da Vinci Code.”

Escober’s Albert Givenchy is undoubtedly Dan Brown’s Jacques Saunière; the two figures were killed off early on in their respective stories, the first by a man whose facial features and arms were “covered in white patches,” the second by an albino assassin. Other members of Escober’s repertory do likewise in emulating their “Da Vinci Code” opposites with some necessary modifications to spare, without which they would have risked becoming nearly indistinguishable from each other.

The “Givenchy Code” harbors additional details that are patently sourced from the “Da Vinci Code”: there is the existence of the Le Organisation cabal hovering in the background; then there is Escober revisiting the “Da Vinci Code” scene involving the symbolic posturing of a dying man covertly struggling to relay a message a few moments before his demise, an action intended to set Father Grayhill and Puca Givenchy on the path to solving the looming mystery.

As if all that were not enough of a reminder of Brown’s mystery opus, we still have a reference in the “Givenchy Code” to Leonardo Da Vinci’s celebrated drawing “The Vitruvian Man” – a pivotal image in the breaking of the “Da Vinci Code.”

All the comparable points of facsimile linking both novels lead to a single objective: the unveiling of the Holy Grail’s true meaning. Like Brown, Escober does a good job in building up tension, leaving his audience suitably impatient for the climax of finding out what the Grail is really about.

By the end of “Givenchy Code,” Escober finally divulges a bombshell of a secret concerning the Grail. No shortcuts permitted here however; you will have to read the book to find out what the big surprise is.

Several themes running through “The Givenchy Code”– there is a religious breeze blowing through parts of the novel, but Escober does not have it couched in religion to the extent that Brown goes to in “Da Vinci Code.”

In terms of humor, the author sprinkles enough of it around to keep the reader engaged and feeling lighthearted despite the dark occurrences taking place in the book. Just the same, Escober’s brand of humor is a letdown of sorts; it is more playful than amusing, more likely to draw smiles than laughter.

A familiar conflict is recycled in “The Givenchy Code,” pitting the seekers of esoteric knowledge against the guardians of esoteric knowledge. The seekers manage to win the battle of course. The losers might be those who will be unconvinced that Escober’s book is not simply a barely-concealed rerun of the “Da Vinci Code.”

If nothing else, his lampooning of the fashion industry in the novel, a theme that is light years away from anything in the “Da Vinci Code,” should satisfy these critics as they decide whether or not “The Givenchy Code” can stand on its own as an autonomous piece in the shadow of Brown’s production.

E.R. Escober is a developing artist in constant motion and whose stock is rising. With the energy of youth and imagination on his side, the odds are that he will become the FilAm writer we all want him to be.

“The Givenchy Code,” notwithstanding its imperfections, is a step in that direction.

Reviewed by ER Escober 1/19/2005
The murder of a prominent French personality in the fragrance industry jumpstarts this exhilarating code-cracking ride all over Paris and deep into the heart of a religious conspiracy that centers around the real identity of a religious icon. In a spine-tingling blend of electrifying adventure, scholarly intrigue and unforgettable, unpredictable moments, The Givenchy Code gleefully, perversely parodies scenes and pays homage to that brilliantly written ‘other code’ novel, while poking benign fun at the fragrance industry and ultimately conjecturing an out-of-this-world theory that the most venerated relic of them all was indeed not a cup but something far more shockingly extraordinary!

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