Sunday, April 20, 2008


I just finished re-reading the last Harry Potter to decide what I thought of it as a book (in the first reading you just want to know how it ends.) Well, I've lost count of the number of times I've read The Chamber of Secrets, The Goblet of Fire and The Sorcerer's Stone (and I know I will read them again) but I have never opened The Order of the Phoenix after the first time. The Deathly Hallows joins it in the outer darkness of the back row of my bookshelf.

For this two things are largely responsible.
One: Unwisely returning to The Lord of the Rings immediately after, a terribly damaging comparison was automatic and inevitable.
Two: The unavoidable media hype that turns authors into celebrities apparently contaminates fiction with fact.

I was surprised at how hard it was for me to get past Rowling's inexplicable bloody-mindedness about The Tales of Beedle The Bard. If it were genuinely about being just for six important people in her life, why make a such a big deal of it in public? It doesn't make sense. A million paperbacks would hardly have affected the value of the ones handwritten, hand-tooled and personally illustrated by the author. They would still have brought in the millions for charity. They would still have been private and personal gifts.

As it stands "five wizarding fairy tales referenced in the last book of the Harry Potter series" are out of reach of the kids who would give away their lunch money to read them. Of course they could always take part in the singularly unimaginative Amazon contest that is going to allow one of them near one copy, under supervision. Whether close enough to actually read the damn thing is not specified.

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