I haven’t been paying too much attention to the upcoming London production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child — I think I wasn’t quite sure it was going to be considered canon, or if, like the upcoming movie version of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, it wouldn’t feature any familiar faces.
It will, however — Harry is back in a new story, that now will be released in script form (both hardcover and Kindle) at midnight after the play’s opening night, July 31, 2016. And now I’m all excited.
The upcoming book, which will reproduce the script from the forthcoming play by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, shifts the action of the Harry Potter stories to 19 years after the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Harry is now “an overworked employee of the ministry of magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children”, grappling “with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs”.
I recently finished a highly enjoyable reread of the Harry Potter series. At the end, though, just as always, I can’t help but feel a little down. Not because of the sad bits, especially in the last book — though those would be a worthy reason. Really, just because… it’s over.
I came to Harry Potter just before the fourth book came out. All the signs at Barnes & Noble, counting down the days to the book’s release… I felt like there must be something to this. I read the first three books and loved them. Then, on the midnight release night for Goblet Of Fire, I was on my way home, late, and remembered the book was coming out in a few minutes. I walked into the store expecting, I don’t know, a few dozen people. Instead the line filled the store. Two hours later I had my copy, and never looked back.
For later book releases, I knew what to expect. Believe me, by the time the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released, I was a pro. I spent the day at Barnes & Noble, and was one of the first hundred to receive our books after that midnight countdown…
The thing I remember most, though, was leaving the store a few minutes later, book held high proudly in hand. About a thousand people were in the parking lot (overflow — the store was full to capacity) and they cheered as we came out.
That’s the thing about Harry Potter that still gives me chills of happiness, after all these years. Once upon a time, kids waited in line all day for a book. They wore costumes, they debated theories on sites like The Leaky Cauldron and Mugglenet… for a book. They formed tribute bands like Harry & the Potters and released CDs. They made videos, fanart, and wrote fanfiction. They’re still doing those things, years after it’s all over. That night in 2007, people stood outside at midnight and cheered — just to be able to read something. Isn’t that the best thing you’ve ever heard?
After the books were done, it was disappointing knowing there wouldn’t be any more stories of Harry and friends — but we had the movies, at least. An extra one, even, when they split Deathly Hallows in two. So that was something for awhile, but eventually all good things do really come to an end.
I know some people feel Harry Potter doesn’t do anything for them — they read the first book and weren’t hooked. I don’t know exactly what to say about that, other than: for what it’s worth, one of the magical things about the Harry Potter series is that the books age along with Harry.Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is written about an eleven-year old, and it’s written for eleven year-olds. That didn’t stop a lot of adults from enjoying it, of course, but the themes, emotions and Harry’s perception of the world around him are childlike. With each passing book, though, Harry grows more perceptive. He experiences more things, he has more complex emotions. He grows up, and the books grow up with him. So if that first book seemed too childish, that might be an explanation.
Truthfully, though, to each their own. I loved every moment of the series, from the first page to the last, from the first on-screen image to the final credits, and can’t fathom missing any of it. I loved the characters, good and bad; I loved Harry’s decisions, right and wrong; his mistakes, his failures, his courage. I loved his friends, more than anything else, really, and I loved living in his world for awhile. For me, just as for so many other people, Harry Potter was a wonderful experience, one I’m always sorry to see end. The beauty of it all, though, is — I can go right back to page one, any time I want, and start all over again.
JK Rowling has released a new little snippet of Harry Potter prose on her Pottermore web site.. Exciting news, but bear in mind it doesn’t reveal much more than what is in the Epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. And since it’s written as a gossip column from Rita Skeeter, there’s no saying how much of it is accurate… 😉
Google will handle distribution and purchases of the e-book versions of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, which is due out this fall. Rowling has decided to shun the publishing industry by self-publishing the e-book version of the Potter series, and selling the books directly to customers, through the Pottermore website. To achieve this goal, the Harry Potter series will be distributed through Google Books, starting this fall. Digital audiobooks formats will also be available.
As an unabashed Harry Potter fan, I’m long-familiar with the world of HP-inspired rock, but for those of you who aren’t — and might be experiencing a few Potter withdrawal pangs after the final movie opens this weekend — here’s a primer:
J.K. Rowling has revealed the secret behind Pottermore, the mysterious website for which she started a viral marketing campaign about a week ago. The “Potter” author’s newest project turns out to be “a free website that builds an exciting online experience around the reading of the Harry Potter books.”
In honor of the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1on DVD this week, an interview with the woman who once had one of the coolest jobs on the planet, in my opinion: proofreader and later editor of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books.
Susan Jeffers had the privilege of reading Harry’s new adventures before any of the rest of us — but she couldn’t breathe a word of what she’d read to anyone.
There were many who would have loved to leak the plot before the book was published. Some websites even made up the plot of the next books and tried to pass them off as authentic. Susan says she felt an obligation to kids all over the world to keep things quiet.
“The kids were waiting so anxiously for each one,” she says. “I just felt that there was no way this could be spoiled for them.”
Jeffers described it as “the job of a lifetime”, and I concur — enviously.
Since the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the last book in J.K. Rowling wildly popular series, the talented author has been rather firm in her statement that this was, indeed, the last “Potter” book. Surprisingly, Ms. Rowling may be softening on that point. From The Washington Post:
Though she said she doesn’t plan to write any offshoots of the Potter series, she didn’t rule it out “maybe 10 years from now,” depending on how she feels. But she told one child she does want to write more books.
“Yes, I do, and I am,” Rowling said. “I’m quite sure in the not-too-distant future I will bring out another book.”
Hmmm. Well, I’m definitely interested in anything else she’s planning on writing. And curious about a new book/series. But strangely, I’m not sure how I’d feel about more Potter, and I’m a die-hard HP fan. It’s just, isn’t the story done? Is there more to tell, really? Do I actually want to read “Harry Potter and the Hip Replacement of Doom” or, even worse, “Potter: the Next Generation”? The only thing I think I’d want to see her publish in the Potterverse would, I think, be a prequel.
What do you think? Is there a place for more Potter, or should the story rest in peace?
My friend Rose reminded me the other day that Banned Books Week is coming soon (Sept. 26 – Oct. 3). I’m glad she did because it always sneaks up on me, which is another way of saying I usually forget to put it in my Google Calendar, and if I don’t put something in there, I have no chance of remembering it later. But I also got a reminder from an article in the New York Times yesterday:
Librarians are trained to listen politely but stand firm when patrons object to the presence of a book or other item on a library shelf. But patrons who persist are entitled to file a challenge.
Give it a read, especially if you’re not a librarian. Those of us in the field all have a pretty good understanding of how challenges work, and what goes on in libraries, and what methods we all use to try to circumvent one of these situations turning ugly, but it occurs to me that many library users and readers in general may not. As a rule, we try our best. There’s no black and white to this issue, and a lot of shades of gray. Sometimes it seems obvious; of course wanting a book out of the library or off the shelves is always wrong, right? But what if it’s a book that’s racially offensive? Do we still defend that book with the same fervor, when its presence may offend those we normally would champion? It’s not a simple situation, and the librarians dealing with challenges, those people working on the front lines, they get the brunt of it. They may be under pressure or misguided, but they’re in there trying, at least.
Also the Times article made me think about Banned Books Week in a way that I never have before. Maybe it’s not an entirely bad thing that books get challenged, not so long as there are voices ready to defend them. Maybe Banned Books Week doesn’t have to be about the evils of censorship, or attempted censorship. Maybe on some level, we can make it be about celebrating the process. When a book is challenged and people stand up to decry its existence, I cringe; but when someone else stands up to defend that book, often with great passion, I can’t help but feel sort of patriotic, in a way. It’s sort of great that here in the U.S. we live in a time and place where that kind of outcry and defense can go on, and the people of a community, a state, a country can discuss what they believe to be right and wrong, democratically. Democracy isn’t easy, after all; as Aaron Sorkin once said, “America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve got to want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.”
Personally I’m willing to work for it. Would I want to live in a world where nothing controversial ever got published, where no one questioned anything? No. Because I think if they shoot at you, you must be doing something right. So maybe this year, for Banned Books Week, I’ll be celebrating the right of every crazy person who wants Harry Potter off the school library shelves because it advocates sorcery (I always wonder, what would be so bad about that, anyhow? sorcery seems like it would be rather useful), and each individual who is horrified at the mere existence of Heather Has Two Mommies, since it’s clearly recruiting material for the Gay Agenda that threatens to put an end to heterosexualism (look, I can’t get my guy friends to stop being attracted to girls with big breasts and lousy personalities… you think a book’s going to magically make someone attracted to a different gender?). Because when I hear them decry those books at the top of their lungs, what I’ll really be thinking is: oh yeah? Well, then we must be doing something right.