|Photo from Steven J. Hill via Creative Commons|
Or I might just be getting old.
According to most reviews, Rowling's new book is fine. It shows sparks of brilliance and her trademark humor. But it's also apparently rife with shallow people (read: Vernon and Petunia-wannabes, but without the So-Moronic-They're-Hilarious-ness that characterized them deliciously in the Potter series)---as well as (brace yourself) rape, drugs, abuse, and the general drek-ness of humanity's underbelly. Then it reportedly ends darkly and without any of the softened edges we came to expect from our favorite wizard's stories. And finally, assuming these reports are accurate, there's a description of a used condom that my wimpy-self could have lived without (NY Times article here. And do expect the review to be a bit on the chipped-shoulder-Hey-This-Isn't-My-Beloved-Harry-Potter side of things.)
Okay, I can't judge this book. We're talking about personal preferences here. There are plenty of folks who love grittier novels than I, and that's perfectly fine. It's why I love the freedom of expression and choice we enjoy in the free world. I certainly can't criticize The Casual Vacancy's content (especially since I haven't read it yet). Not to mention, I'm on year four of figuring out how to go from writing short articles to writing an entire novel. My novel has changed completely like 47 times, without it being anywhere near ready to publish, much less query for an agent. Writing any kind of book is miraculous, getting it published even more so. I have nothing but respect for Ms. Rowling and her endless imagination and work ethic.
But here's the thing: I LOVED the Harry Potter series. I mean, I never thought it was perfect. It had issues (Like, in Goblet of Fire, why didn't Crouch Junior simply turn one of Harry's pencils into a portkey and have done with it on the first day of class, instead of dragging him through the entire School Champion-thing to get him to the trophy portkey at the end?) But it was a pure and utter delight, and a departure from the mundane grit of reality. Harry's world was imagination unleashed and creative abandon, and it all ended well. For me it's a joyous break to immerse myself in such tales. Real life is tough and doesn't always end well. I prefer not to pound myself with that when I read for pleasure. I'd rather live in a pure unadulterated fantasyland for a few hours and escape the blech.
So, I guess I'm not sure I'll read The Casual Vacancy. Because as a dyed-in-the-wool Anne Shirley Pollyanna Laura Ingalls, I want to always associate magic and wonder with JK Rowling's name. Call me a wimp. (Not really. If you do I'll delete your comment. I'm in charge here. Kind of.) I'm fine with it. (Pretty much.) I like to keep the rose-colored glasses firmly on my nose. If Rowling writes more stories set in the Potterverse, or other books that line up with my personal La-La-Land, I'll be right there. And I'll still always be in awe of anyone who writes as much and for as long as she did on one series of books, and makes it that enjoyable for us as readers.
Meantime, if YOU read Rowling's new book, feel free to comment and tell me what you think about it. Maybe someone will manage to talk me into snagging a copy from the library.
Happy reading, my friends! As for me, I'm off to restart Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Lalalalalalala!