Stuff I've dug up.
Last week I began reading the first of JK Rowling's Harry Potter books. I keep wishing it were as imaginative and morally complex as Philip Pullman's extraordinary "His Dark Materials" trilogy, but I guess not all young-adult fantasy series are created equal. I finished the last of the Pullman books, The Amber Spyglass, during my trip to Paris in 2009. I was in line for Versailles when I got to the part where Lyra and Will lead the ghosts out of the land of the dead--a scene that made me cry my eyes out, even in front of all those German tourists. Here's how that section ends:
Will and Lyra exchanged a look. Then he cut a window, and it was the sweetest thing they had ever seen.
The night air filled their lungs, fresh and clean and cool; their eyes took in a canopy of dazzling stars, and the shine of water somewhere below, and here and there groves of great trees, as high as castles, dotting the wide savanna.
Will enlarged the window as wide as he could, moving across the grass to left and right, making it big enough for six, seven, eight to walk through abreast, out of the land of the dead.
The first ghosts trembled with hope, and their excitement passed back like a ripple over the long line behind them, young children and aged parents alike looking up and ahead with delight and wonder as the first stars they had seen for centuries shone through into their poor starved eyes.
The first ghost to leave the world of the dead was Roger. He took a step forward, and turned to look back at Lyra, and laughed in surprise as he found himself turning into the night, the starlight, the air...and then he was gone, leaving behind such a vivid little burst of happiness that Will was reminded of the bubbles in a glass of champagne.
The other ghosts followed Roger, and Will and Lyra fell exhausted on the dew-laden grass, every nerve in their bodies blessing the sweetness of the good soil, the night air, the stars.
My short review of Renny Black's Delightfully Doomed Door of Decadent Disarray is in this week's Chicago Reader.