Saturday, June 26, 2010

Reading Harry Potter: Part Four

I started my annual summertime read of Harry Potter this morning.  I invited Brent, my cyberbookfriend to read this time, and--kind of against his natural inclinations and better judgment--he took me up on the invitation.  So far, his impression hasn't been very favorable.  Since I value Brent's opinion, I'm trying to read more objectively this time, with a more critical eye.

I remember the first time I read the Harry Potter books.  It was in the summer of 2000, just a month or so before the release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth book in the series, and the first for which the entire world sat up and took notice.  I'd sold my share of the first three books, and wanted to see for myself what this growing fuss was about.  That summer, I was semi-laid up with a pinched nerve and spending most of my time when not at work propped up in bed with an elaborate arrangement of pillows holding back and arms and neck in place.  I had even more time than usual to read.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone had come into the store in a batch of publisher's hurts, and I picked it up for just a couple of bucks.  I took it home, popped a muscle relaxant and a Vicodin, then took myself to bed to read.

The first paragraph drew me in.  By the end of the second page, I was hooked.  By the end of the first chapter, I was enchanted.  The writing was not exceptional.  It was simple, with a slightly sing-songy rhythm overlaying that faint feeling of dread and foreboding that is peculiar to British kid lit.  The voice was reminiscent of Roald Dahl, albeit less sophisticated and knowing, and certainly not as smirky.  I responded as I think most of the kids who read it do, by reading faster and faster and faster to find out what comes next.  And, despite my attempt to read in a more studied and adult manner this time, that's exactly what I find myself doing today.

And, as I did in the summer of 2000, I will no doubt gobble this one up in a day or so and then, while the tears are still glistening in my eyes, begin Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets...and, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, the cycle will continue.

So why do I love these books?  Because, despite the occasional clunkiness of the writing (and it gets better Brent, I swear it does; the writing grows as the kids do), the Harry Potter books sing and soar.  They are heartfelt and soulful, they get you in the gut and in the funny bone, they're fun to read and wildly original.

The long and short of it is, I don't think I'm going to be very objective this time around, either.  Ah, well.


EnriqueFreeque said...

You've got Chinese fans! How dope is that?!

It's only been a week, and I'm already in chap. three (3!!!) of HP. I do want to "feel the enchantment" as you say, though, I wonder, had your nerve not been pinched, and had you not taken the muscle relaxant and Vicodin, if then it might not have been - HP - as enchanting? Oh what a terrible of me thing to insinuate about HP!

After today's woeful garage sale (225 books displayed; 4 sold; I just don't understand why a predominantly Spanish speaking Hispanic clientele just wasn't interested in Oxford World Classics or Penguin classics or even say, a two pound pb of Europe Central by Vollmann! do you?) I'll need something light(er) tonight and tomorrow, so I will make it at least to chap. four of HP. I'm reading it as slowly as Proust at the moment.

And, cool post...per your usual....

EnriqueFreeque said...

Oh, and where's the candles and incense for that HP altar you've got going?

Rebecca Glenn said...

Yeah, click on the dot dot dot link and you'll find that it's not a fan, it's Asian porn. Woo hoo! They find me every third or so time I make a post.

Now, don't think that when I was writing I didn't think about the drug cocktail/enchantment link. However, the drugs have gone bye bye and the enchantment remains, so...

And it's not an altar, really. More of a shrine. So there.

EnriqueFreeque said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EnriqueFreeque said...

...and it's a lovely shrine...I meant to say, not "it's lovely shrine"