Thursday, July 19, 2007

Cranky musings

With respect to Bill Cosby’s HBO special Himself, I was going to title this post Sick and Tired (remember, and tired always follows sick), but decided cranky was probably more appropriate. Today, though not the first time, I found myself appalled with the continuous media hype concerning the embargo period, the overwrought musings of Rowling’s work as literature, the childish race to have the first review in print, and the elitist attitude of some who do not care about the Harry Potter release countdown and festivities. The following paragraphs are my cranky musings; one might even say rants, on those topics.

No, I am not attending any Harry Potter book readings. No, I will not be standing in line at 12:01 am to get my copy of the book. No, I will not be dressing in Harry Potter-esque regalia and touting the wonders of magic to my family and friends. No, I will not stay up all night to read the book in its entirety. No, I do not need to have any more children’s literature and/or other experts to impose on me their comments concerning the intrinsic value of this book. And lastly, no I do not feel the need to defend myself for enjoying the Harry Potter series of books.

Yes, I do have two copies of the book ordered through the library and have high hopes of their arrival before leaving work tomorrow. Yes, I have an opaque bag at the ready so it may be taken from the building with little or no fanfare, issue, or ruckus. Yes, I will discuss the book with co-workers who are reading the book; though I am sure we will wait until everyone is finished to even the playing field (so to speak). Yes, I do wonder if Harry will live or die with good defeating evil in the end. Yes, I know this is a work of popular culture and fiction and it may not stand the test of time as a classic; I do not have that particular expectation. And lastly, yes, I do expect to enjoy the time I spend reading this book.

What caused this particularly whiny, cranky rant? That would be the result of several blog posts I have read over the last few days. My particular favorite (insert extremely appropriate sarcasm on my behalf here) was a quote found in the Booklist online blog that originated in Guardian Unlimited: Art's Blog: Harry Potter's Big Con is the Prose. In it the author is discussing his dismay regarding the language IQ of those who enjoy reading Harry Potter and the lack of quality writing displayed by Rowlings:

"... You’re one of the many adults who don't have a problem with the retreat into infantilism that your willing immersion in the Potter books represents. It doesn't make you a bad or silly person. But if you have the patience to read it without noticing how plodding it is, then you are self-evidently someone on whom the possibilities of the English language are largely lost."

"This is the kind of prose that reasonably intelligent nine-year-olds consider pretty hot stuff, if they're producing it themselves; for a highly-educated woman like Rowling to knock out the same kind of material is, shall we say, somewhat disappointing." (Guardian Unlimited, Nicholas Lezard, 7/07)

Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion and since I buy books for a living I am very familiar with the significance of critical literature reviews, especially as they pertain to children’s literature, the bulk of my collection development responsibilities. But there is a difference between critically reviewing a title and bashing the very readers who enjoy the work. The first is important; the second stresses said reviewer’s self-importance.

And today, under the “someone just had to be first” category, was the New York Times with a book review two days before the book’s release date.

I did not read either review beyond the first paragraph, as I want to experience the book myself, the early reviews were meaningless. There was a bit of chatter regarding the rights of the fourth estate to present the particulars to their readers and other such drivel. Printing those reviews early was not about the public’s right to know. It was all about who outperformed everyone else and posted the first review. Of course there were the necessary rebuttals regarding the breach of faith/embargo by the American press…

As much as I am looking forward to receiving my copy and reading, I am simply sick … and tired … of all the folderol and subsequent foolishness surrounding the event. But then, what do you expect from someone "on whom the possibilities of the English language are largely lost?"

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Karin Dalziel said...

AMEN! Just because I like reading the book doesn't mean I think it's the best thing since sliced bread. I've largely avoided the potter mania, due to the fact I don't watch TV, don't read the newspaper, and am generally disconnected from the world.

My husband plays world of warcraft, and stupid idiots kept spamming spoilers in the chat. He might not be able to play till after he finishes the book. :)

Lynn said...

Let me know what you thought about Harry! We've been largely avoiding discussions at work until the last person finishes the book.