Gaiman and Pullman are two mighty mighty fine writers, but as readers?
The recent Entertainment Weekly had a gushing bit on James Thurber’s 13 Clocks, which is being reprinted. Gaiman suggest that it is “probably the best book in the world.”
Now I am a HUGE Thurber fan — Unicorn in The Garden, Civil War Phone Numbers, Old Couple arguing about buying a cheeseburger, etc.., etc… — but 13 Clocks just isn’t all that great. For one thing, Thurber is an adult and he writes like and adult and he writes for adults. Try this bit:
“…even his indescribably hat was suddenly describable.”
Now that IS funny … to an adult. But even that does not a book make.
Meanwhile, it appears that Pullman is putting “Voyage to Arcturus” on his list of his top 40 books.
Some of these books are badly written, but unforgettable: Lovecraft’s stories, or David Lindsay’s extraordinary A Voyage to Arcturus.
Well, we agree on the badly written and, true, I have not completely forgotten it. But I have also never forgiven the person* who recommended it to me.
Well, actually since the same person got me started on Gormenghast, I will try to forgive.
Meanwhile, I wonder if either Gaiman or Pullman will join me in my growing belief that “Giant Jam Sandwich” by John Vernon Lord is the greatest picture book ever written…
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