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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

abstract:I am a book snob. I am an English Major. I don’t read Oprah’s Bookclub picks. I don’t read chicklit. I don’t read Da Vinci Codes or Twilights or Dragon Tattoos, though I may reluctantly see the movies whilst maintaining an air of pretentious superiority. But it was because of a bestseller franchise and the associated films that I changed my stringent policy on popular-in-this-century fiction after a TV marathon of the Harry Potter series left me desperate for answers. “Alright,” I conceded, “what the *#&%* happened to Dumbledore.” And so I caved. I purchased the last installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) -- along with a face-saving business book on the art of negotiation, lest the one-armed clerk at Barnes & Noble judge me -- and I’m not ashamed to say it changed my life ... People, Harry Potter is bloody good.

So I’ll just come out with it: I CRIED. I cried! No spoilers, but I literally was moved to tears by the written word, which hitherto only happened in dog-related scenes in renowned pieces of literature (and one hooker scene in Murphy; when I recounted the experience and choked up again in my Professor’s office he recoiled in horror and said, quote: “this is unheard of in Beckett.”) Thus it has been ingrained in me that there are appropriate times to cry in books and life and there are not. Even most men will admit, for example, that it’s acceptable to cry in Rudy, or when your hockey team loses in the playoffs for the second year in a row to the Chicago Blackhawks, (I cried once in my living room in the presence of my mocking friends, and then, a little more privately in the bathroom). But HARRY POTTER? This was quite shocking to my system and sense of identity as a Reader. Indulge me, please, as we delve into why…


December 06, 2010
— The themes of the series are universal and recognizable from history and literature. The world, with which most of you are by now no doubt familiar, degenerates into a Nazi-Germany-meets-1984 style totalitarian state. The Muggles (non-magical people, (I can’t believe I’m saying this)) are being rounded up for MacCarthy-style show trials, newspapers are controlled by the state and fear and corruption abound. Your typical reign of terror/police state. The task of restoring order to this Oedipal miasma falls, as in many fantasy stories and fairytales, upon The One Least Likely, in this case, Harry Potter and his not-so-little-anymore friends, Hermione and Ron. They are tested: by the heavy burden of their task, mistrust, suspicion, jealousy, inactivity, dead-ends, difficult choices, and in the end chose trust and friendship, love and family (I shan’t reveal whether or not this strategy prevails).

Though the concepts are fundamental and familiar, they are not unoriginally wrought and the result is some pretty entertaining stuff. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I literally did not want to leave the house, eat, sleep, or do anything that wasn’t reading Harry Potter. When I finally saw the film last week, I actually said upon exiting, “Yeah, but the book was SO much better.” About Harry Potter. Don’t get me wrong, the film does an excellent job of realizing the readers’ mind’s eye, but there’s so much more in the book. Things are creepier, darker, more powerfully emotional, more tiresome, more impressive, more tragic and generally more intense. I guess I’d have to say I agree with most HP fans, (also known as children) when I say they’re worth reading.

Because at the end of the day, we read for many reasons: for the sensual pleasure of Heaney’s “feeling into words” alchemy, or Schopenhauer’s aesthetic transcendence from the will. We read to understand a little better the human condition and explore philosophy of language. But we also for the sheer enjoyment of imagination, entertainment and escape.

So maybe it doesn’t always have to be about metaphysics and metafiction or even magic realism, maybe, just sometimes, it can be about good storytelling and teenage magic.

You still have one year to jump on this broomstick (no holding back now) and read The Deathly Hallows before the final film is released next year. It just might change your life, or at least your bad attitude.

And need we mention? Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7) make the perfect gift set this holiday season.



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