Monday, July 23, 2007

The end of an era

So Harry Potter weekend has come and gone. All the anticipation, the speculation, the excitement, and, in the final days, the desperate attempts to avoid spoilers ... all over. I know it seems like a lot of "sound and fury, signifying nothing" to those who are not HP fans, and it's kind of hard to explain if you don't already "get it." I guess the closest I can come is the article I posted last week. I don't know, really, why these books have caught my imagination, and the imaginations of so many others, so fiercely. It's that rare blend of good and careful storytelling, a group of characters people can fall in love with for a variety of reasons, and, as much as anything, the book being in the right place at the right time. Who's to say why JK Rowling succeeded in such a staggering way when so many authors, many of whom may indeed be better writers than her, have not been able to do so? Magic, maybe. All I know is this story has been part of my consciousness for the better part of a decade, and it has all been building towards the release of this final book, towards us finally getting to find out what happened, what all the clues were and what all the different events meant. It was like a big jigsaw puzzle, and the final pieces, after a decade of trying to put them all together, were in this last book.

And it didn't disappoint.

We made a bit of an event of getting the book, which I've never done before. Serdic and I, along with my sister and her husband, decided to do a midnight release at a nearby drugstore. We thought this would be a little less crowded than the bookstores, most of which were planning huge release parties, but to our surprise when we arrived there was already a massive line stretching the length of the store and starting to double back again. Resigned, we got in line and settled ourselves in for what seemed like a lengthy wait. Imagine our surprise when at 12:01 they simply brought out a huge box of the books and just dumped it in the middle of the store. Literally at the feet of my brother-in-law, who had wandered away from the line to browse the magazines. He grabbed two copies and we were in line to pay faster than you can say "wingardium leviosa." Total time in the store: less than half an hour.

We winged our way home as fast as Serdic's little car would carry us, and I read the first 100 pages before my eyes and brain began to protest and I had to admit defeat and get a few hours of sleep. Saturday morning I picked it up again and plowed right through, stopping only when Serdic insisted I eat something mid-afternoon (he was very patient and understanding about the whole thing, dear boy, if a bit bemused), and I finished around 4:00. At one point I was very close to turning to the epilogue to spoil myself and make sure certain characters made it through all right, but I resisted and in the end I was glad I did, and I just got to watch the story unfold with no idea what was coming next.

I wouldn't say the book was flawless, of course -- it dragged more than a little through the middle third. But the final section was breathtaking as it all came together. Old friends appeared from the previous books, plot points that seemed superfluous at the time turned out to be essential, and in the end it was a fitting and perfect finale to the series.

And now I'm going to go back and start at the very beginning of the series and fall in love all over again.


charlotte said...

It was a great weekend! Are you telling me Serdic hasn't read them? I thought the last book was great as well. I thought the epilogue struck the right tone and the right amount of information.

Serdic said...

No, I've not ready them. I have seen the movies, and asked far too many questions but I've not read a single page of Harry Potter.

That doesn't mean I can't understand what someone else sees in them, though. Certainly, I was just as excited about getting the seventh book because it was something the Singer was excited about.

What would Jesus do? said...

Serdic, I'm sure her love for HP is liken to to a new Muhammad Mazidi book...

Face it -- we'd both be lined up too.


"Jay" said...

Many moons ago a coworker dumped the first four books on my desk and ordered me to read them. I decided to see what all the fuss was and managed to get thru the first 3... it didn't grab me the way it has grabbed millions. But I can understand the appeal. And can applaud the brilliance of a woman who obviously loved her characters.