Thursday, July 19, 2007


Google search of five minutes ago that led some poor sap to my blog:

who is burbage in deathly hallows?

What an earth-shatteringly important question. Until five minutes ago I didn't know that the last HP has a character called Burbage. Now I do, my horizons have been vastly expanded and I can't wait until half past six am the day after.

Oh wait. I have to watch Fireman's Ball and Shop on Main Street Saturday afternoon. Sunday there's a reading and the Loves of a Blonde and Kolya. And on Tuesday I leave for Bangalore for a reading (details of which later).

Where's the time to read HP7?

Having said all this, this time I'm really astonished at the frenzy of wanting to know how it all ends. Why is it important to know who dies? Like, if I told you Hermione dies, or Snape dies, or Hagrid dies, will you not buy the book because everything has been ruined?

I like Rowling's writing less and less but I really do pay her the compliment of thinking it's worth more than the ruin of enjoyment brought about by the fact of a few deaths named prematurely.

Think of Greek tragedy. Think how you know everything that will happen to each character before the story's begun. And yet you listen anyway, not because you want to know what happened next but because you want to know how it happened, who else was there, what they were thinking. You want to laugh at the small things, shiver with the big ones, experience a particularly good sentence, crow over a new turn of phrase. You want to be transported, in effect.

And despite everything, I don't think DH will fail to do that. Who cares who dies?

Update: Via Samanth I find that Michiko Kakutani has already read and reviewed the latest Harry Potter book! Spoilers abound! Go read!


Falstaff said...

I disagree. Rowling's prose is, frankly, pathetic - so if you know the story I don't think the time investment in reading HP7 is worth it. Totally agree about Greek tragedy, but the whole point is that Rowling is no Sophocles.

Personally, I think nothing reflects the hollowness of the HP franchise more than the fact that it needs all the 'releasing at midnight on this date' hype. HP7 publishers are paranoid about the story / book leaking out, I suspect, because they know that a considerable proportion of their readers won't bother reading the book at all if they don't read it in the first 48 hours and know what happens in the end.

As someone who gave up on the franchise two-thirds of the way through (halfway through book 5 the sheer vapidity of the prose finally overwhelmed any interest I might have had in the story) I actually wish someone would put a plot summary of the book online so I could find out what happened. What I find interesting is how deeply conditioned people have become not to reveal the storyline of HP books. Even after I've repeatedly assured people that I have no intention of ever reading the damn book and would they please give me a two-minute summary of the plot the keep awkwardly trying to dodge the question. The sheer complicity of it is shocking.

Space Bar said...

See, but I'm the one who's read each book, including the porridgy sixth one, several times over. So it really makes no odds to me if I know What Happens Next.

Sure, JKR isn't Sophocles, or even Anouilh, but she's as familiar as Heyer or Charteris; you can pick holes but you still feel fond of 'em.

And I shall give you a two minute summary of HP7 and spare you the tedium!

N said...

Usually, I don't care much about spoilers either. I'll watch/ read even if I know the entire story (sometimes, because I do). But I don't know what it is about HP -- I like to enjoy the suspense. I guess the thing is I approach HP a little bit like a detective story. There isn't that much to savour in the style so the plot twists are what keep me going. Even knowing about a few of them would lessen the curiosity and affect the reading, therefore.

So I shall just avoid the spoilers wait for Saturday :).

N said...

*there was an 'and' in that last sentence.

Falstaff said...

space bar: In the end, I guess we can all just draw on our own experience. I have to admit I considered reading HP6, despite how execrable I found HP5. But somehow I just never got around to getting hold of a copy when the book came out - I refused to actually buy a copy (I almost never buy hardcovers), I didn't know anyone I could borrow it from (which is how I ended up reading HP5) and there was no chance of getting it from the library. So I thought, okay, I'll just read it a bit later. But then I heard from someone that Dumbledore dies, and I discovered some new poet or the other, and somehow, looked at in the sober light of two months after the hype, it just didn't seem worth it.

But then, if it comes down to it, I don't much care for Heyer either.

km said...

Like Falstaff, I am not a fan of JKR's writing. But while I find starting an HP book difficult because of the prose, a few pages into it is a very different experience.

Which, I suppose, is true for most writers in the detective/crime thriller genre (Simenon comes to mind)

Space Bar said...

N: with HP it could very well be the hype!

Falstaff: actually, though I will get the book on Saturday, that could very well happen to me. No time to read and finish it on the day I get it, so it could just lie there for a bit. But unlike you, I'm certain to read it.

You don't care for Heyer? I find her endlessly fascinating, but I can see how many people would be baffled.

KM: Crime thrillers...don't get me started! :D