Black and White?

Ron Charles, the latest critic to explain how Harry Potter is destroying literature as we know it, serves up this pearl of wisdom:

The vast majority of adults who tell me they love "Harry Potter" never move on to Susanna Clarke's enchanting "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell," with its haunting exploration of history and sexual longing, or Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials," a dazzling fantasy series that explores philosophical themes (including a scathing assault on organized religion) that make Rowling's little world of good vs. evil look, well, childish.

Yeah, sure, whatever. Of course Philip Pullman is a better literary craftsman than J.K. Rowling. But the kind of hectoring Manichaenism on display in Pullman's His Dark Materials makes Rowling look like Patricia Highsmith by comparison. Difficult as it may be to believe, one can be a masterful prose stylist and have a somewhat childish worldview, all at the same time.

Peter Suderman has a more thorough (and polite) dressing down of Charles' essay here.