And there was a great rejoicing, because Philip Pullman is writing another book in the world of "His Dark Materials"! The trilogy, made up of The Golden Compass (Northern Lights, to British readers), The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, is possibly my favorite set of young adult books ever written (although I might have experienced existential despair if I had read them in the throes of my early teens) and certainly high up on the list of my favorite fantasy and alternative history novels.


The idea of The Full Monteverdi (a film, and previously a stage performance, that sets Monteverdi's Fourth Book of Madrigals in a coffee shop, sprinkling actors amidst singers and - in the original - spectators in a quintessentially contemporary environment) is so strange and lovely that I just had to share the YouTube trailer:

Moreover describes the production in greater detail.


The most thought-provoking thing I read today, from an interview in the June 2007 issue of The Sun with Sister Joan Chittister, feminist and member of the Benedictine order (I give rather a rather long excerpt to underscore the unhistrionic complexity of her stance on this fraught issue):

I am opposed to abortion as a birth-control method. At the same time, I ask myself how it is that the Catholic Church can hold that all abortions are equally, gravely sinful at all times, but that death may be inflicted in other circumstances without always being equally, gravely sinful. The Church teaches you that you may kill to punish, to defend yourself, or to defend the state, and you are not committing a sin. In areas where men are most often in charge of life - as they are in the justice system or the military - they may kill by the thousands, and the Church won't say a word about it. But when a woman is in charge of that decision, as she is when it comes to abortion, the Church pronounces that it is always, under all circumstances, gravely immoral and deeply sinful. My question is: why aren't we equally committed to life once it is born?
I am not impressed by people who say they are pro-life but who don't want to pay taxes to provide housing and food and education and healthcare for those who need them. That's not pro-life; it's pro-birth. (10)


Today's poem was (again) from the June 2007 issue of The Sun. It is the pithy, aphoristic "Eight Love Songs" by Sparrow, and for once I will let this excerpt speak for itself:
is the
we don't
say to

"My lover and I are doing our taxes." (23)


Well, great Netflix progress was made today, when I forced myself to watch Bresson's A Man Escaped early enough in the morning to pop it into the mailbox before the noon pickup. Triumph! And the film proved not nearly as portentous as I had feared. What's more, I finished the first book of August this evening, David Mitchell's Black Swan Green. At first I found its hedging about reality and imagination quite baffling, but in the last hundred pages it won me over with its careful wackiness and unpretentious literary complexity.

Meanwhile, I slog away at Robinson Crusoe (nearly 1/5 of the way through it - huzzah!) , which is proving to be one of the most casually brutal books I have ever read. It is actually quite appalling. Perhaps it will be less racist and dehumanizing as it goes on? Or perhaps the massive selfishness of Crusoe is the point here. Yeah, ok - that is the bobbing wreckage of an argument I am going to use to keep me afloat for the rest of this reading experience, although I have no confidence in it floating me anywhere safe.

4 Responses so far.

  1. Andi says:

    I guess I can actually finish The Amber Spyglass since he's at work on another book. I've resisted finishing it because I didn't want it to be over. lol

  2. That IS good news about Pullman -- I love those books too.

    About Robinson Crusoe -- I love the book, I have to say, but the racism certainly only gets worse. I love 18C novels, though, and RC is just so fascinating.

  3. Although for many it was their least favorite of the series, I think "Amber Spyglass" may have been my favorite, Andi. You have to let me know how you find it! I read a review recently in which the blogger felt unsettled by the alternate scripture use in the first book, and my heart sank when I thought of what her experience would be with the third and darkest of the series.

    As for Robinson Crusoe, Dorothy, I continue to read a couple of pages a day, and although it is interesting from the point of view of history of the novel and postcolonial analyses, it makes for very dry reading (especially after Dickens. Sigh.). But I should have read it years ago, so onwards!

  4. Ana S. says:

    The news made me very happy also - HDM are my favourite fantasy series. And like you, the last book is my favourite.

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