July is all about Harry Potter. JKR must pinch herself every five minutes. How is it possible that Harry has become such a global phenomenon?
Don't get me wrong: I am a fan. Although plenty of literary purists have criticised the writing, the archetypes, the borrowed mythologies, I see much to get excited over. When I first read the first book back in 2000, I was thrilled to be entering her imaginative world. And that world has continued to grow and mature with every book. I like the public boarding school with the magical twist. I like just everything about it.
The latest movie, HP and the Order of the Phoenix, has just been released. I loved it. JKR really makes me care about her characters, and as I watched all my old favourites -- as well as some new ones -- materialise on screen, a lump of emotion formed in my throat. The first time I watch the film version of a loved book, I am not a fair viewer. I watch with a critical eye, scrutinising to see what has been left out or changed. But my complaints about Order of the Phoenix are few, and mainly related to the lack of character development received by some of the supporting cast. I thought it was a great adaptation on the whole.
Even more exciting, the seventh and final book is released globally on Saturday. In reverent preparation for HP and the Deathly Hallows, I am re-reading number 6, HP and the Half-Blood Prince. In my view, this is the weakest of all of them so far. The plot is seriously lacking, and on the whole it's rather slow. All the excitement is saved for the final 100p or so. Nevertheless, I persevere so that, come Saturday, I can retire with select companions to the island to indulge in an orgy of reading!
But back to the global phenomenon. What is it about Harry that makes every book store send you e-mail after e-mail promoting free Hedwigs with every copy purchased, or special discount prices? Why is there a synchronised global launch: 12:01am in the UK, 9:01am in Aust and so on? Why am I going away with friends with the express purpose of being anti-social and reading it end-to-end in the shortest possible timeframe?
Has there ever been anything like it?
It must be the adults driving it. I can't imagine publishing companies and bookstores getting this excited over a mere kids' book. (Here's a Daily Telegraph article that supports my view!)
Really, we should be delighted that it's a NOVEL that is inspiring this maniacal behaviour. (We writers, that is.) Still, I have to wonder whether the world has gone mad. Maybe the witches & wizards are all sitting back laughing at us silly muggles.