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A little more about Harry Potter and…Howard Dean?

August 5, 2007

Republicans for Voldemort.

Just thought I would push the two wildly different subjects of this post together for a half second.

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Xkcd (a “webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language”) once had a “map of online communities” as its comic. As you can see along the Indonesia-like “Blogipelago” is the shipwreck of the S.S. Howard Dean. It’s nice to see a thesis you proposed four years ago show up as a joke. Why is it funny? Because it’s so true.

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I didn’t go to the midnight Harry Potter book sale – no that 750 page “chapter” of HP – remained away from my hands until that Saturday afternoon, and was unread until Sunday afternoon. I avoided the internet, most newspapers, and warned anyone who had read it of my ultimate and unmerciful wrath if they mentioned anything. I missed the collective experience of a midnight HP sale, but had my own mini-powwow HP discussion with my roommates as they finished my copy in turn. We processed it like the both the end of a particularly exciting chapter of history and mourned the loss of our own pleasure of reading new adventures. I like how, as near-college graduates, we can understand the flaws of the book without taking away from the cultural and emotional parts of reading a goddamn good story (your mileage as an englishmajor may vary)

It’s a coincidence (albeit one I’m going to exploit as meaningful for narrative purposes) that Harry’s coming of age, his realizations of growing up come at the sametime we do. Harry is certainly not a child from beginning to end of the seventh book – but hitting the strides of adulthood much faster than the rest of us. I don’t want to say dealing with leasing agents are as bad as doing battle with Death Eaters – but you start to feel it could be in this very Muggle, day-to-day world.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Wrought permalink
    September 22, 2007 7:20 pm

    I read the last book on the Saturday, but I confess I didn’t wait up for a midnight queueing session either.

    The book was a rollercoaster yarn from start to… about 90% of the way through. I thoroughly enjoyed it up to that point. But then, I was a little disappointed.

    All that information about Dumbledore’s past: Why no mention of it before? It was as if Rowling hadn’t really planned everything from the start, but just invented some more lore for us in the last book to try and tie things up. Another example of this is the invisible cloak which suddenly became part of a trinity of magical objects of which one happened to possess a quirk which allowed Harry to defeat You Know Who using a spell which, although he had used often before, had never been billed as his ‘trademark’ spell in quite this way until the last book.

    The fight scene in Hogwarts was a bit of a disappointment. I actually felt bored reading page after page of fight descriptions. Rowling doesn’t do this anywhere near as well as just about any other fantasy writer, and certainly doesn’t come close to Tolkien. I actually felt the idea of the spiders, giants and so on turning up was poor mimicry of the end of both LOTR and The Hobbit, not to mention many other fantasy books, such as those by Alan Dean Foster, which use this technique also. Surely she could have devised something more spectacular than all the villains and heroes of the piece all converging on a point to fight it out. In fact, this entire episode in the book is all the less exciting because it feels like it was written for the film. After seeing the special effects of the last movie, I’m sure it will look great when it hits the big screens, but it was a shame that it didn’t hold up to the quality of the rest of the book.

    Rowling originally stated that she had written the end of the seven books and knew where they were going. Although she says she shortened the Epilogue considerably, I think it is now clear she may have known where the characters ended up in many years time, but she didn’t really know where the story was going or how it was going to get there. I also expect she changed what she thought would be the ending, and that the one we were presented with was actually nothing like the one she originally envisioned. I guess we’ll never know.

    Anyway, I don’t feel let down, just a litle disappointed. Perhaps the pressure and time limits for writing the last book got to her. Although, there were always things that could be pointed out as being less than perfect in the other books – but it never stopped them capturing the imagination and stopping you putting them down until the last page.

    I should also point out a weird thing I noticed. At the end of one chapter the three main characters are in the house waiting and plotting how they will sneak into the Ministry of Magic. Kreacher suddenly returns with Mundungus. They question Mundungus and then the next chapter starts with them sneaking into the Ministry. What happened to Mundungus? Where did he go? He was never mentioned again, as far as I could tell!

    By the way, I have no idea why I thought I’d write about Potter on your blog again. Hope you don’t mind 🙂

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