Philip Pullman Death Scenes De-Constructed (Spoilers — The Subtle Knife)

Self thinks they are amazing. She’s near the end of The Subtle Knife, and the tension is beautifully constructed, like a Kabuki play. She thinks that’s because of the double-ness of having a daemon. People don’t just die, their daemons have to die as well. And since the daemons have been actualized — meaning, they’re actual physical beings, but have properties that are not exactly human — there is a gap in the effect of death. Self means, you’re never sure a person is actually dead until the daemon goes down, and thus two have to go down together.

At this point, self has read three Philip Pullman books. And no two deaths are exactly alike.

There is something so stoic about Pullman’s characters. The reader (self) hides under a blanket, screaming — but the characters themselves areĀ  puzzled by their injuries, and don’t make much of them (All the while the reader thinks: Get yourself to the emergency room! Call 9-1-1!) and we live every moment of their disbelief and shock when finally —

UGH. WHY.

She also thinks she won’t watch film or television adaptations of this universe. They’ll either focus entirely on the action, or have the characters feeling tragic because they can almost see the end approaching — and how would we get the curious timing of human/daemon deaths that add so much to the books? The film would have to be directed by a person with deep roots in Kabuki or Noh theatre (She’s seen real live Kabuki performances in Tokyo, theatre is a particular love of hers, just saying) Could they get Kathryn Bigelow? Because she did such a beautiful job with the deaths in The Hurt Locker.

There are only five or 10 pages left to go in The Subtle Knife, and the character self is reading about keeps acting as if ’tis but a scratch. But of course, how would the character know he/she only has that many pages left to live? That’s masterful, keeping that scene going till the very end.

She thinks of another scene in a novel that she read maybe two decades ago, which ended with the main character saying, in the last line: I die.

At that point, PHOOEY. When your main character has to tell you he/she is dead, that is one lousy ending. Self nearly threw the book across the room.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

THE SUBTLE KNIFE, p. 287

In Pullman’s novel, Texas is a country. And a Texan hot-air balloonist named Lee Scoresby is trying to help Serafina Pekkala save Lyra Belacqua:

Lee was too cool by nature to rage at fate; his manner was to raise an eyebrow and greet it laconically.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Books, Goats, Wildflowers: Still More Prolific

A few more pictures inspired by the Daily Post Photo Challenge this week: PROLIFIC

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Gallery Bookshop, Mendocino, 17 April 2018

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Spotted on Lansing St., Mendocino, 19 April 2018

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The View Across the Street From the Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino, 21 April 2018

Reading List 2018: Update

Moving so slowly through The Subtle Knife but someone tweeted about the end and self was so upset that she’s picking up the pace to get it over with.

There are years that stand out in her memory for being particularly rich and focused.

For example, the year she went on a memoir binge and read nothing but memoirs.

Then, the year she only read translations.

Then, the year she only read books written by women.

Then, not too long ago, the year she only read travel books.

Then one summer, she only read Henning Mankell. She read seven of his books one after the other.

It’s with no small surprise that self looks back at the books she’s read so far 2018 and finds that her favorites have been novels. Because she hasn’t been able to enter the required headspace to appreciate a good novel for a very long time.

Here are the novels she’s read so far this year: Moshi Moshi, Conclave, The Mandibles: A Family, La Belle Sauvage, The Golden Compass

And they’ve all been really good!

After she finishes reading The Subtle Knife, she’ll read the last book in Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, The Amber Spyglass.

Then she’ll move through some novels she read in her childhood: Treasure Island, The Old Man and the Sea, Lord of the Flies, Wide Sargasso Sea. (This shouldn’t take long, most are very short. More like novellas, really)

Finally, she compiled a list of 20 novels published 2017. She tried to stick to small presses. Avoiding blockbusters at all cost. Reading through that list will probably get her through 2018.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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