Random Blog A Musing Farf

Monday, July 23, 2007

HARRY POTTER MADNESS

Since I am too busy reading Harry Potter to blog, I thought this would be an appropriate piece to run from Mara, my guest blogger for the day.
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Enough. Harry. Potter.

Seriously. All the papers here, the news programs, the high street shops, are overflowing with Harry Potter, or "HP7" as the bloggers have dubbed thephenomena. The headlines are enough to make me pull out my hair -

- Harry Potter and the internet spoilers
- Harry Potter and the all-night blog
- Harry Potter and the supermarket giant
- Harry Potter and the Asda apology (Asda, a Wal-Mart affiliate, is actually selling the book at less than the wholesale price - local bookshop owners are queuing there to buy copies).

Then there's the teaching assistant who quit over a child wanting to read the book in class. A Pentecostal, she feels the book glorifies witchcraft. And remember the McCann family? They were thinking of putting bookmarks with little photos of their daughter Madeleine in all the copies of the book. And how dare the big, bad New York Times print a review of the book ahead of the embargo? Let's talk about it, while reprinting the review in full. Do theHarry Potter books encourage reading in children or diminish it? My personal two favourites are a UK gambling organisation (Brits bet on anything)announcing they had stopped taking bets on whether or not Harry dies in thebook as his demise would bankrupt their company, and the fact that Childline, a UK help line for children, has laid in extra staff to cope with children's grief should some of their beloved characters die. They havetaken this measure due to the floods of extra calls that occurred upon the break up of the British boy band Take That.

Seriously people. Seriously!

Don't get me wrong. I get it. This book means a lot to a lot of people. Heck, I was disappointed when I came to the end of the Chronicles of Narnia, The Chronicles ofPrydain, even the All of a Kind Family series. And myhusband, who is an avid reader of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, buys each book as soon as it isavailable, devours it like a starving man and lies back sated before gloomily remembering that it will be two years before the next book. But this is different. Children were camped out along the high road outside Waterstones last night. So were adults. Adults! I've read one or two of thebooks, and seen a few of the movies, but I always wondered at the men and women in suits I saw commuting to work reading a book with cartoons on the cover when I tend to be embarrassed if I read chic lit anywhere other than on the beach, or US Weekly anywhere other than the doctor's office.

Know what? There are two wars on at the moment that the UK is involved with. There is a newly elected prime minister. We're expelling Russian diplomats for refusing to extradite a murder suspect. Ministers left and right are admitting to smoking marijuana as the country decides whether or not tore-re classify pot back to a B from a C misdemeanour. Israel has released 255 Palestinian prisoners. Rupert Murdoch is buying the Wall Street Journal, for crying out loud. There are real, serious things going on in the world.

But wait - is that the point? Have I just discovered the Harry Potter appeal? Is the reason grown men and women spent last night lined up outside booksellers wearing pointed hats, wigs, capes and wands due to the fact that the lovely world of quidditch, magic and wizards and where good (so far) always triumphs over evil just a little easier to bear than one where we're in two wars, violent crime and emergency room visits are up due to the newly extended bar opening hours in the UK, millions of Americans don't have healthcare, and the Democrats have yet to present us with a viable candidate for 2008?

Mind you, I am not judging the Potter-ittes, or Rowl-oholics, and I very much respect JK Rowling, a single mother who, as one of the wealthiestpeople in the world seems to be one of the more reticent and down to earthof the nouveau riche. Certainly an obsession with a series of books doesn'thurt anyone. I just want to understand what about the boy-wonder wizard ismaking people of all ages on several continents swoon in the same fashionthat the Beatles once inspired. I may never understand. In the meantime, Iplan to spend today not standing in a line at a bookshop, enjoying thesunshine with my television off - though I have to admit that my husband was one of the 2.2 million people to pre-order the book on Amazon.com and it is currently sitting on our table untouched as he plays with our daughter. I hope that all this Potter-philia has given those infected with it a welcome respite from the world at large and enables them to return to us, reinvigorated, on the morrow.

2 comments:

Suzanne said...

Ah, I was going to post this also. I always said that Mara needs her own blog. The woman is a talented writer.

mara clarke said...

You are welcome to go ahead and post it as well ;-) While the idea of a blog tempts me sometimes, I barely have time enough these days for Adena, Justin, and Abortion Rights . . . plus I like tailoring stories to the people I send them to. Will just have to keep using you and Sara when the urge hits me.