Great stories are great stories
When I was a kid, I used to re-read the same books over and over again, until the characters felt like family and I was intimately familiar with the plot. I must’ve read the Harry Potter books about 84 times.
One of my favourite series as a kid was the His Dark Materials trilogy by the esteemed Philip Pullman. Funnily enough, it was one of the few series I read through only once.
I’m adamant that it was one of my favourites though, despite the fact that I never picked it up again after I finished. I remember the way I reacted to the ending, clear as smooth water, and that’s enough for me to be sure that my younger self was entirely infatuated with the trilogy.
I distinctly remember having a irresistible urge to want to write to Mr Pullman, because I was so disappointed that the three books had come to and end. I can remember sitting in the back of mum’s car, drafting this letter in my head. Dear Mr Pullman, I’d write, please consider writing another book about Lyra and Will.
I never wrote the letter. Sometimes I wish I did.
Anyway, it’s because of these memories and the lingering sense of nostalgia that I decided to re-read the series now, when my mind is slightly better equipped to deconstruct great storytelling. I really wanted to know whether they were truly great tales, or whether my nine-year-old mind had blown them out of proportion.
I’ve come to this conclusion: Philip Pullman is a god.
I’ve also come to this conclusion: great storytelling is great storytelling, irrespective of age. No, I probably wasn’t aware of some of the underlying themes of the book when I was nine, I probably didn’t decode the great mystery at its heart. But you can be sure as hell that I loved the tale as a kid, and you can be sure as hell that I’m loving it now.