Thursday, July 19, 2007

T minus 34 (or so) and counting

In just about a day and a half, I'll have my very own copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. You have no idea how very happy that makes me. And how very confunded it makes my husband, who doesn't get it, and was perplexed when I told him to make our dinner plans someplace fairly quick on Saturday evening, in case I wasn't done reading the book yet. And yet, there it is.

Here's some additional Potter-related stuff for you:

First up, Hank Green's song about Potter-mania, which I believe may be entitled "Accio, Deathly Hallows". It can be found at Brotherhood 2.0. And if you haven't already been a regular viewer/voyeur, then by all means check out the entries from earlier this week, because punishments? They're funny.

Next? The New York Times posted an early review from a bootleg copy of the book. Not sure how I feel about their morality, but Michiki Kakutani did a decent job of talking about the book without divulging much about what happened in it. But she does explain the word "hallows", and so anyone wanting no spoilers at all should avoid the review.

Third, J.K. Rowling updated her site today, with what I believe to be very useful, sensible advice. She follows up her plea for people to ignore spoilers by saying, "I'd like to ask everyone who calls themselves a Potter fan to help preserve the secrecy of the plot for all those who are looking forward to reading the book at the same time on publication day. In a very short time you will know EVERYTHING!"

Finally, a rant about an opinion piece in the Washington Post earlier this week, which I've already remarked on at my other blog. Ron Charles posted a seriously misguided piece about his inability to understand equanimity over the Harry Potter books, which included a bitch-slap worthy swipe against adults who read children's books, along with a sour-grapes-filled rant complaint about mass-marketing of books.

The smart and inciteful posted an extremely thoughtful essay about Mr. Charles's wrong-headedness over at her journal, where she says in part:

&emsp I think what’s so magical about the HP books is that touchable silence
&emsp that follows the pre-publication hysteria, when the books have at
&emsp last fallen into all those eager hands. Go to a reading marathon hosted
&emsp by your local amazing children’s or YA librarian. See a group of kids
&emsp all in their favorite spots, reading. Reading for hours. Getting shushed
&emsp when they cheer or groan out loud without meaning to because they
&emsp have been carried away by a book that somehow managed to so
&emsp completely submerge them in its world they forgot, for a time, that
&emsp this one exists. Do you think they are aware that the kid in the
&emsp corner is reading the same thing? I don’t. And even if they do,
&emsp what’s so bad about that? How’s it different from a book group who
&emsp reads the same book so they can discuss it? Share their thoughts
&emsp about it? Find new ways to enjoy or question bits and pieces?
&emsp Make them
think??

I responded to her about my own experience with relatives following our recent trip to see the latest Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which I discussed a bit in a post last Thursday.

My two daughters, their 14-year old male second cousin and I talked about it for hours -- what they left in, what they kept out, what scenes we'd really hoped for that weren't there, how some of the ways they changed the story added or detracted, etc. And then, at my cousin's wedding rehearsal dinner the next night, we discussed it with additional adult family members, who were eager to hear about the movie and what we thought, and to speculate about Book 7. That's right -- we were all chatting together, two and even three generations of us, because we've all read the book, and we share a bond that confuses and perplexes the people like my husband and mother, who haven't read the book. And I found myself feeling sorry for hubby and my mother because they are missing out -- they cannot understand the joy of being able to share enthusiastically in appreciation of the story, and love (or loathing) for the characters, and predictions for the future. And yet, if Mr. Charles is correct, those of us who were avidly engaged in enjoyable conversation, bonded together in our appreciation of the books, were the ones to be pitied -- poor cattle that we were, all having read the same thing. And yet, if we'd all read The Kite Runner instead, I'm sure he'd consider us literati.

My conversation with my extended family was with folks who will be getting book 7 this weekend, and tearing through it to find out what happens, even if they put off seeing the movie until later. The movies didn't sell them on the books. The hype didn't sell them on the books. The story sold them on the books, as it did for those first kids in England, who fueled sales via unprecedented word of mouth. Those first readers weren't wrong, anymore than the hype surrounding the first six books in the U.S. has been a mistake. I suppose it remains to be seen whether everyone will remain happy once the end is reached, but we'll all know by Sunday. Saturday evening, even, for the truly dedicated quick readers.

In the meantime, I will repeat my assertion (made in comments earlier) that Mr. Charles's child didn't like his unenthusiastic reading of the books, and I will hope that the Charles child manages to read the books on their own. I look forward to discussing the book with any of you who are so inclined in the future (but will not post anything spoilery here for at least a month, so you needn't feel you need to avoid looking at my posts starting next week).

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