Monday, July 23, 2007

Potter-Head Emerges and Speaks

Be at ease, there are no spoilers here.

So ends the Harry Potter series.

From start to finish these books are a ball. Many thanks to Jo Rowling for writing a series that is bloody brilliant - for making story fun again.

Now I've been reading a couple of reviews where people are talking about the many Christian allusions spread throughout the last book, and they are there, but let's not take them too seriously. I appreciate that they are there, don't misread me, but the books are and always have been for me altogether different than, say, spiritual meditations on our Lord.

I think the thing that is most often misunderstood about Harry Potter and Jo Rowling is her idea of story and fun - that's what these books are. They are not Tolkien or Lewis, and, at the other end of the fantasy-religious spectrum, they are certainly nothing like Phillip Pullman. They are Jo Rowling. They're tongue-in-cheek romps that eventually lead you into some rather dark and sobering stories about, well, death - nevertheless, all this talk about dying and living and temptation and (even) resurrection, however, are dealt with beautifully without feeling as if they are misplaced in a book that also contains bogey-flavored Everyflavor Beans.

Now, I have some literary complaints, technical complaints, but they ring hollow from a critic who has not done what Rowling has done. So, if you don't mind, I'll keep them to myself.

For those of you who don't like Harry, I'm truly sorry. If you don't like him and haven't read the books, read them. Or don't. But don't judge them by what you have heard or by watching the movies. (The movies don't capture the playfulness of this series. The movies are enjoyable, certainly, but I've found them to be very different tonally.)

And if you read them and don't like them - well, isn't it an excellent thing to make up your mind for yourself? And if you're indifferent about them - that's OK too.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Maybe I'll have to give them a try. I've shunned them, and quietly scorned them from afar, out of what is probably a misplaced allegiance to the children's fantasy books I enjoyed as a kid myself. It seems as the series has progressed, more and more adults have found them to be good reads as well. I went to a lunch with a colleague, and she was reading the new Harry Potter book when I arrived.

Seven books seems like a lot of work, however. I remember the last time I felt "series fatigue" was with the Foundation series by Asimov, many, many years ago. I always felt another book, and huge time commitment looming over me with that series, which overcame my enjoyment, and honestly, I don't think I've read multiple series of novels since. I've developed into a non-fiction reader, first and foremost. LOTR was probably the last novel I read, and honestly, I picked up Children of Hurin and perhaps read the first five pages, and left it, since I was uninterested. Tragic, and surprising to me, actually. Maybe I'll take that with me to California and do some Tolkein reading, and maybe I'll pick up the first Harry Potter at a used bookstore and give it a spin.