Tastes Like Chicken

Monday, January 26, 2004
_Developments in the world of His Dark Materials

The trilogy of "luminous" books is spawning a play, a feature film, new books, and, perhaps, a bit of worrying compromise. Still, it's impressive that children's books "that address life after death, religious faith and the complicated intermingling of good and evil" have succeeded to the point of having been "translated into 37 languages and sold more than 7 million copies in Britain and the United States alone." Equally impressive is that the trilogy's growth into a phenomenon has not come at the expense of its difficult and beautiful central themes:
"It's astonishing how uncompromising it is in introducing kids to an alternative mythology of death, how it finds a harsh consolation in the notion that death is death and that the worst possible thing, the most desperate thing, is that there is some kind of afterlife. It's thrilling to see kids as young as 9 and 10 sitting, riveted, by that and feeling perhaps relieved by the notion of oblivion."