I finished Harry Potter 5 — Order of the Phoenix — and have started 6, Half-Blood Prince, hoping to finish before I leave next Tuesday for Glasgow.
The newsgroup I mentioned last time erupted into a frenzy of posts for and against Rowling the Harry Potter series, some defending it as enjoyable light entertainment, others decrying it as a waste of time for seasoned readers of fantasy for whom so many better writers are available. In light of that I might rephrase my earlier comment involving the word ‘snob’ to something about ‘backlash’. I have no quarrel with anyone’s taste about any particular writer or book; what troubles me is the deliberate neglect by ‘insiders’ in the SF/F/H field of those representatives of the fantastic genres who’ve made it big in the mundane world. That Rowling has no background or interest, apparently, in the genre may be part of it. But it’s easy to suspect that, in 50 or 100 years, all that will be remembered in the culture of the time of our fields might well be Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter.
A newsgroup I subscribe to queried its members about who had bought the new Harry Potter book, and this is how I replied:
I pre-ordered the book from Amazon, and it was on my doorstep Saturday sometime between 3 and 6 p.m. — while I was away seeing CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (which I thought quite delightful).
It occurred to me an enterprising collector might have thought to arrange such an Amazon order — the books came in a special shipping box with “Harry Potter” and “PLEASE DO NOT DELIVER BEFORE JULY 16!” on them — and then never open the box. It would be like those toy collectibles that are greatly more valuable in packages that have never been opened.
I bought a couple of the UK editions — of the third and fourth volumes, I believe — but actually prefer the US editions; they have a greater heft, and feature the chapter illustrations lacking in the UK editions. My understanding is the issue about the ‘Americanization’ of Rowling’s original language is no longer a problem–that Scholastic stopped doing this a while back.
I’ve read the first four books, though somehow started book 5 (ORDER OF THE
PHOENIX) when it came out 2 years ago but finished only 200 pages before setting it aside for some reason. But now I’ve picked it up again and intend to finish it, and then read the new book, in the next week or so (however long it takes me in the corners of time I have for reading in between other duties). Like many readers I have an ever-growing stack of to-read-someday books, but I’ve learned in recent years that, for books that are ‘break out’ topics of discussion among the wider popular culture, it’s worth the effort to read them while they’re current, while people and the press are still talking about them.
And I like them well enough to resent the snobbish backlash of those who dismiss them apparently only because they’re popular… like a Certain Magazine’s annual recommended reading list.
I managed to catch up on 99% of stale emails over the past couple days, and read a couple books besides — John Varley’s MAMMOTH and Tim O’Brien’s THE THINGS THEY CARRIED — before the new Rowling was delivered. Soon on the website: 2nd week July new books; 1st half July new magazines; interview excerpts from the July issue.
Having written and then deleted two previous posts of excuses for why I’m behind on emails, book listings, and so on, the reasons for which cannot possibly interest anyone, let me try just this very brief note to apologize for same, and assure everyone that their emails and review copies will be attended to as soon as possible.