Thursday, July 19, 2007

Snape-mania arrives!

Exciting news arrived in my in box from the DC Public Library earlier this evening:

The item[s] listed below that you requested is/are available for pickup from the D.C. Public Library location whose address is listed above. Please inquire at the circulation desk with your Library Card to check out the item. After 10 days, the item[s] will be made available for the next customer.

Thank you for using CityCat 2K, your Library's online catalog.

Harry Potter and the deathly hallows / by J. K. Rowling ; illustrations by Mary Grandpre.

Even better: I have tomorrow off from work! I was supposed to run around and get errands done, but gah, now that my very own free copy of the final book in the Harry Potter series is sitting forlornly at the library waiting for me, my laundry will never get done, and I will soon be wandering around the city wearing grandma underwear. Ew. [EDIT: The library worker who sent out the emails did so inadvertently, so I will be receiving my copy with the proletariats tomorrow. Alas.]

I've actually never been able to make it straight through a Harry Potter book from beginning to end. While Rowling's images are vivid, I often find the descriptions really, really dense and detracting from the story. Moreover, I think the books have been marketed in such a way that does not give an incentive to read straight through. I mean, when you tell the reader that someone important is going to die, how many people are more interested in the how than the who? Wouldn't it be better to market the book like an episode of Grey's Anatomy? "The Grey's you won't want to miss -- Mt. Ranier awakens and spews ash, burying the interns alive in Seattle West!" The Potter corollary would be "The Deathly Hallows -- Potter and friends wander into Voldemort's trap....again!" But, maybe it's Rowling herself that needed to be muzzled instead for making statements about how killing off characters was tough for her to do but necessary for the story to evolve, blah, blah, blah.

Don't get me wrong. I'm able to get caught up in a well-told story. I saw the musical 1776 on Broadway, and during intermission I was concerned about whether the Declaration of Independence would be signed. Really. Nor is the length of a story the issue for me. I've read Little Women, which was the longest book I'd read until the Potter books were published (on the other hand, Catch 22 took me 2 years to read). This leads me to suspect that J.K. Rowling is, simply, not a good writer. She's got a great story, but the execution doesn't always do it for me. That's why I'll probably read one third of the way through, skip to the end to see who bites it, and then resume the book from where I left off.

This time, I'm also going to keep an eye out for Biblical imagery. That's right. I find it amusing that in light of the right-wing religious groups that have condemned the series for its witchery imagery, at least one religion reporter has considered Judeo-Christian imagery in the series, casting Harry as a Jesus-like figure, Dumbledore as a God-like figure, Voldemort as Satan, and Professor Snape as Judas. It's obvious that Harry has disciples and believers among the wizards and witches -- ooh -- we could even add a DaVinci Code-like element: Hermione as Mary Magdalene? Hmm. Now that I'm going down this route, a resurrection does not seem completely out of the picture, eh? Don't worry. I won't post any spoilers.

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