Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harry Potter all over again.

Now it's three days after the final Harry Potter day. Everyone who really wants to read the book has read it. There's been a flurry of reviews, blogs, comments and breathless articles on the events of the Big Day. It's over. It will never, ever happen again.

I wrote a column about it too, and I read the book as quickly as possible on Saturday so that I wouldn't find out what happened in the end through message boards or blogs or newspaper reviews. My life has not been changed by reading the book one bit. I liked the fans theories and solutions much more than I enjoyed J.K. Rowling's version. But that's fine, I liked junior Harry much more than the teenage version. I do wonder, however, how his relationship with Ginny holds up after she takes the time to demonstrate her jealousy over Cho during the final confrontation with Voldemort. A relationship based on this kind of adolescent angst and superficiality would not be my choice for a life-long partnership. But hey, witches and wizards clearly marry young in England.

My editor described the ending as 'mawkish' which is no doubt accurate, but irrelevant seems a better word to me. Not that I wrote that in my column, actually, since I was also carried away with the hype. Hype is over now. I'm glad I had fun with it.

The Guardian writes about books we should be reading post Harry. Most of the esteemed authors seem to think going back to older fantasy fiction is the thing, and I feel a strong nostalgic urge to recommend Ursula le Guin, Madeleine L'Engle and suchlike authors as well. But surely there are newer books to catch the fancy of the juniors out there as well. Not so much the terrible, formulaic junk that publishers have foisted on bookshops over the past few years, but some other stuff entirely. There are plenty of series and stand alone titles that surely aren't any worse than the later Harry Potter books (such as the Magyk series), but heavens, who would want to recommend any of those?

I reckon everyone should now go out and read the old titles mentioned above, pastiche the lot of them and then publish their own series. There are still an awful lot of bits and pieces that J. K. Rowling didn't use in her book. There's not much King Arthur, for example, and while she was quite fascinated with death, there wasn't much of a spiritual angle. Or much history.

But actually, I hope that every single man, woman and child on earth now goes out and buys Diana Wynne Jones's backlist. There's a person who really should be a billionaire, if dollar value were based entirely on talent.

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