The Golden Compass and me

I’m pre-writing this entry on Sunday, prior to the teen book group’s Tuesday discussion of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass.  While in graduate school, I had to read The Golden Compass, and totally hated it; the hatred was probably mostly driven by my unadulterated hatred of the professor of my fantasy and science fiction class, but perhaps also partly by the book, too.  Because, lazy little reader that I’ve become, I’m struggling with this book once again.  It’s such hard work.  It makes me think.  And thinking makes me cranky.

Clearly, Pullman is brilliant, and has an amazing creative vision for this book and its sequels.  It’s not a book to try to skim quickly on Super Bowl Sunday before heading to a friend’s house for the game, though that’s what I’m trying to do.  And the depth of the fantasy in the text reminds me that I’m not really a fantasy reader – I struggle with many of the fantasy conventions and with things like daemons and Dust and althiometers.  So while I recognize Pullman’s genius, I can’t say that I’m engaged in the text.  I’d rather be reading the book for the older teen book group:  Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.  Delicate observations on humanity, gentle romance, and an ultimately optimistic view of the world and its people: that’s the kind of book that I like to read, not fantasy.