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August 13, 2007

Comments

Dorothy W.

I so agree with you -- I love the Pullman books and a re-read sounds lovely ...

semanticdrifter

I couldn't agree more. During my tenure as a bookseller I would personally try to browbeat every customer who purchased a Harry Potter book into at least looking at Pullman. But every day I would see Potter after Potter fly out the store, while the vastly superior His Dark Materials languished on the shelf. And the movie looks fantastic.

ed

I feel it important to note that I agree more than the previous commenter, but probably not the way that any of you are thinking. In fact, nobody could agree more than me when it comes to agreeing upon things in general. And with this sashay into the silly, I hope we can all put away the phrase "I couldn't agree more" into the same barren wasteland occupied by your cliche of choice.

TEV

"I hope we can all put away the phrase "I couldn't agree more" into the same barren wasteland occupied by your cliche of choice."

You mean, cliches like "barren wasteland"?

Not one of your most constructive comments, amigo.

Josh

Just to be a needler, I went to Return of the Reluctant and did a search for "i couldn't agree more". Ed is guilty of five uses, the most recent happening last month. But hey, people change.

semanticdrfiter

A cliche? I suppose I'm guilty. While recognizing that it is an exercise in futility to defend my use of the tired phrase, I meant that the post had so perfectly articulated my feelings with regard to the case of Rowling v. Pullman that it would not be possible for me to feel any greater sense of personal agreement. I did not mean that someone else was incapable of agreeing with a greater intensity or higher ability to agree with things in general. Far be it from me to impugn your agreeing ability, sir. And I have the utmost respect for your sashaying as well. :)

zachary ash

The Golden Compass is one of the most enjoyable and best-written books I've ever read. Lyra is a wonderful character, as are Lord Asriel, Mrs Coulter, and the armored bear. The second book in the series is somewhat darker. And then in the third book, as with many trilogies, it all falls apart in noise, haste and confusion. The destination is less enchanting than the journey.

semanticdrifter

I too found a great deal of noise, haste, and confusion in the third book but it held together well enough. For me, the series really didn't take off until The Subtle Knife. I loved the first one, but the story didn't come together for me until Lyra met Will because their relationship is the core of the overall story.

ed

Mark: Your irony meter is off. Please get it checked or replaced.

Josh: As for my use of "I couldn't agree more," you are quite right to point out to my five uses. I had hoped that my above admonition would prevent minds as excitable as semanticdrfiter from making the same mistake. It often takes an unfortunate addict to prevent people from straying down the same path.

TEV

Ed: Just had my irony meter serviced. It's fine on all fronts.

Patrick Stephenson

I like Harry Potter.

semanticdrifter

Know any good 12 step programs? Clich-anon, maybe?

swhank

I thought the New York Magazine was a truer review. http://nymag.com/arts/books/reviews/35534/

Charlus

At the risk of being called a philistine, I must say that the audiobook versions, read by Pullman himself (together with a cast of very capable voice actors), are quite extraordinary. As for the third volume, for all its slackness there are some wonderful things in it. And come on, how many children's books feature gay archangels who just happen to be lovers? Atheism and gay archangels will always win me over.

Celia

His Dark Materials is Harry Potter for snobs. The writing may be more flowery, but at the expense of humour, interesting characters and a story to really care about.

If someone could combine Pullman's skill with words with JKR's storytelling ability, that would really be something. In the meantime...

I pick Harry.

The comments to this entry are closed.

TEV DEFINED


  • The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."

SECOND LOOK

  • The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

    Bs

    Penelope Fitzgerald's second novel is the tale of Florence Green, a widow who seeks, in the late 1950s, to bring a bookstore to an isolated British town, encountering all manner of obstacles, including incompetent builders, vindictive gentry, small minded bankers, an irritable poltergeist, but, above all, a town that might not, in fact, want a bookshop. Fitzgerald's prose is spare but evocative – there's no wasted effort and her work reminds one of Hemingway's dictum that every word should fight for its right to be on the page. Florence is an engaging creation, stubbornly committed to her plan even as uncertainty regarding the wisdom of the enterprise gnaws at her. But The Bookshop concerns itself, finally, with the astonishing vindictiveness of which provincials are capable, and, as so much English fiction must, it grapples with the inevitabilities of class. It's a dense marvel at 123 pages, a book you won't want to – or be able to – rush through.
  • The Rider by Tim Krabbe

    Rider_4

    Tim Krabbé's superb 1978 memoir-cum-novel is the single best book we've read about cycling, a book that will come closer to bringing you inside a grueling road race than anything else out there. A kilometer-by-kilometer look at just what is required to endure some of the most grueling terrain in the world, Krabbé explains the tactics, the choices and – above all – the grinding, endless, excruciating pain that every cyclist faces and makes it heart-pounding rather than expository or tedious. No writer has better captured both the agony and the determination to ride through the agony. He's an elegant stylist (ably served by Sam Garrett's fine translation) and The Rider manages to be that rarest hybrid – an authentic, accurate book about cycling that's a pleasure to read. "Non-racers," he writes. "The emptiness of those lives shocks me."