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So, I’ll start by saying that I have not read His Dark Materials, though the trilogy is now sitting on my ever-expanding reading pile. Nor have I read anything else of Philip Pullman’s. I decided to purchase Daemon Voices because, like any good writer, I am trying to get better at my craft. And I thought Mr. Pullman might be able to help. Well, he has—and brilliantly.
This collection of essays is rich with storytelling examples taken from literature, art, and science. A former teacher, the author knows how to engage the reader without talking down. My only criticism is that he tends to go off on a tangent from time to time about his lack of belief in God or Satan, as though that has anything to do with the task at hand.
That said, I consider this book a must-read for any author who wishes to better understand the difference between story and plot, fantasy and reality in fiction, and why anything beginning with “once upon a time” immediately captures our imagination. Well done, Mr. Pullman.
I highly recommend this collection of essays about writing to anyone who might aspire to write or who is just interested in the process, or is a fan of Pullman's books. They are all intelligent and kind (not such a usual combination) . Each one opened a world of thinking. I only have one gripe - I share his dislike of stories that are full of trolls and fairies and elves and weird creatures that have no need to be but are a kind of hopping-on-the-bandwagon of fantasy fiction, but I don;t see that applies to Tolkein, who uses them as Pullman does, taking them from traditions of storytelling, like his witches, night ghasts and spectres. But that's just one of the many articles in the collection, and has good points of its own anyway.
Erudite discussions on writing, literature and how they inform and are in formed by life. Much to take for the writer (especially the difference between the path and the forest), the reader (especially the defense of pictures in books), wrapping up with excellent observations on how art affects life and gives it meaning. I have taken much away from it.
The pleasure of Philip Pullman's company is irresistible. I am a theist and active in a Christian church, but that is completely compatible with Pullman's atheism. He makes goodness real, attractive, and achievable in both his fiction and these essays and addresses. If you love both nature and art, dive into his work and find your love shared and enhanced.