Good Books; Good Questions

All books leave readers with questions; a good book leaves us with good questions.  Asking ourselves if Dumbledore ever found love (or what might have happened if Stanley Yelnats had not found the sneakers, or whether Harriet M. Welsch ever found culinary pleasures beyond tomato sandwiches) is how we give a book life within our imaginations, make it our own.  Like Philip Pullman’s subtle knife, those questions open the fabric between the writer’s universe and our own.

Pullman has been facing some questions of his own….  Pullman’s His Dark Materials presents a magnificent panoply of inquiries — about God, “Dust,” and the human imagination.  Is the trilogy a challenge to the Church?  Absolutely.  But mostly it is a challenge to any readers or pundits who expect a book — or its author — to do their thinking for them….  It’s not a writer’s privilege or responsibility to tell you how to read her or his book.  Talk is cheap, but print, still, is more or less forever.

— Roger Sutton, Editorial, The Horn Book Magazine, January/February 2008

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