Sunday, July 22, 2007

Thanks, Jo!

Sorry, blog world. It’s been awhile. It’s not so much that it’s been an unusually busy week but more that it has not: just the usual, and so I am uninspired to write.

Yesterday, however, was exceptionally busy. I do have a large job of work due tomorrow morning so had to discipline myself to accomplish a good percentage of it lest I hate myself today. I learned the hard way not to take a day off and assume I’m going to feel up to ten or more hours of typing the next to make up for it.

And of course we all know what else I was busy doing yesterday. Yes, I am now among the exponentially-growing numbers who know whether Harry Potter lives or dies.

I am of such mixed feelings about the Potter books. I don’t think Jo Rowling is that exceptional a writer. Her plot arcs are not always well-crafted. There are too many characters who are not properly fleshed out, some of whom I think we would care a great deal less about were it not for the movies putting real human faces on them.

And yet I read each of her books (with one overly-bloated exception) pretty much straight through and enjoyed them hugely. And I refuse to believe that I simply got sucked into the hype, the mass Potter hysteria. I am too cynically middle-aged and frankly too well-read to allow that to happen. There have been plenty of “bestsellers” in the past that I have hated and not finished, even some by writers I have previously loved. (I am thinking at this moment particularly of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, which started so magnificently and then by the third novel collapsed under the weight of its own verbosity.)

So why have I loved the Potter books? Because whatever she may be technically lacking, Ms. Rowling came up with a whale of a tale, and she saw it through and made me want to see it through with her. She created a world I cared about and did it well enough and thoroughly enough that -- at least most of the time -- I totally forgot to be critical of weaknesses in her writing. It’s no mean feat to turn the “off” button in Grammar’s picky brain!

So I’m very glad that although book 7 certainly does tie up all loose ends, there seems to be a little door left open for perhaps a future, related series. I hope she writes it.

And now I have a recommendation for those of you about to enter Potter withdrawal. I am a fan of a well-written fantasy series and have relished many of them over the years. My favourite is of course Lord of the Rings, followed by C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series. But lesser-known and also a huge favourite of mine is Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry. It’s not anything like Harry Potter and nor, I think, should we want anything to be at this point. But it’s excellent fantasy, a meaty series that will keep you occupied for awhile.

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