Monday, January 30, 2006

What a Disappointment

I wanted to try reading an older kids' book by Tim Wynne-Jones because I loved his Zoom picture books. (See my November 25, 2005 post.) I stumbled upon The Boy in the Burning House, and what can I say? Not much except that I found the plot jumbled and the writing flat.

I wish I could find a better way to describe what I mean by flat writing.

As usual, if you do an Internet search on The Boy in the Burning House, you'll find that a lot of people liked it.

Late as Usual

About a month ago, a number of people blogged about Far From Narnia an article about Philip Pullman in the Dec. 26/Jan. 2 issue of The New Yorker. Well, I finally got around to reading it. Lucky you, I'm going to share a couple of interesting parts relating to stories

First off, though, I'd like to point out that journalists writing about Philip Pullman just can't seem to get past the fact that he's an atheist. Yes, it's pertinent because religion plays a part in his most famous works, the trilogy known as His Dark Materials. Still, articles about him have become just a little bit predictable.

On the subject of his religious belief, he is quoted by Laura Miller, the article's author, as saying "...we can learn what's good and what's bad, what's generous and unselfish, what's cruel and mean, from fiction..."

I think by "fiction" he means stories. My impression from the article is that Pullman holds the idea of story in very high regard. He refers to himself as "the servant of the story." When The Golden Compass won the Carnegie Medal, he said in his acceptance speech, "In adult literary fiction, stories are there on sufferance. Other things are felt to be more important: technique, style, literary knowingness..."

I think there are probably many contemporary readers who would agree with him there.

He also said, "We need stories so much that we're even willing to read bad books to get them..."

Pullman is also described as "a partisan of the third-person omniscient narrator"--the classic way to tell a story. The storyteller doesn't enter into the story himself, the reader forgets he's there.

So all this talk about stories is what interested me most in the article.

However, there was one last bit that I'm sure grabbed other readers. Pullman has become quite well-known for disliking Narnia. What he really comes across as disliking in this article is Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series.

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