Friday, July 20, 2007

Thank God he dies at the end

Harry Bleeding Potter mania strikes. Again. Is there no escape from this monster? What started as a quirky little phenomenon, fuelled by word of mouth became a publishing sensation. Of course the media picked up on it, but somewhere along the line it became a literary Moloch which has distorted the entire book industry fuelled by, yes, over-the-top, blanket coverage. It is inescapable. Pity some of the disgruntled hacks of my acquaintance whose entire working day will be spend waiting until the midnight opening when people will be able to get their hands on the latest Harry Potter and the Marketing Man's Wet Dream.

It would all be irritating, bar two things I find disturbing.

1. The fact that it has become expected that the press would do their bit to help Bloomsbury's marketing campaign. Some book sellers in the States have been sending out copies early. The New York Times has rushed out a review. Excerpts of the book have been leaked on the web (sorry, I can't face looking for them). JK Rowling is non too happy but I cannot for the life of me see why. There is no obligation on the paper to fall into line with her marketing strategies; the review doesn't give much away and, let's be honest here, if people don't want to know the ending they won't go looking.

2. It's a fucking children's book. Since I am not a child and do not have children of my own I have never read any of them: nor do I see any reason to. The only thing you'll find me queueing for at midnight is the bar.

The plot, characters and prose style are all aimed at children. And, let's be honest here, not the especially literate ones. Damn it, the books were even praised for getting kids who weren't into books reading. Let's at least accept its aimed at younger or less-bookish children rather than infantilising all teenagers with this sort of stuff. When I was 16 I was reading, among other things, Joyce, Waugh, Dante and Wilde so I can't imagine I'd be much of a fan were I that age now. Surely no self-respecting teenager would want anything to do with something so uncool and babyish. I'd rather they were smoking spliffs and shagging that reading this sort of thing.

The Daily Heil even has this gem: "The children's charity ChildLine is preparing for a flood of calls from young fans distraught at the death of a key player, whose identity the Daily Mail has learned but chosen not to reveal." For crying out loud. It's a damn book: identifying with characters and being saddened at their loss is a good and healthy thing. Indulging this mawkish claptrap is not.

What disturbs me, though, is the large number of adult fans: a mixture of the sad and creepy. There's plenty of undemanding literature for adults out there: you can hardly throw a brick into a west London coffee shop without braining a chick lit authoress and there's plenty of cock lit like Andy McNabb and Wilbur Smith for blokes. So it baffles me that so many grown-ups are getting quite so excited by something aimed at kids. God, I hope they get lashed by gales this evening.

Off to dig out some proper escapist literature: Mallarmé, Spenser, Kirkegaard.

UPDATE: Oh cock. He lives (thanks to the Times of India for ignoring all the marketing bollocks.) Pity also that Tibor Fischer, in his Telegraph review, didn't give it the full Martin Amis treatment.

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Blogger Glamourpuss said...

Agreed. I tried once to read one as many of my pupils were raving about it. Couldn't get beyond the first chapter. The prose was so basic I found it exhausting, and can't imagine that it would have held my imagination as a child either. Did read Pulman's Nothern Lights trilogy, 'though, and that was fantastic.


2:52 pm  

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