Monday, July 09, 2007

Harry Potterism gone crazy

Is it just me, or is anyone else bemused by the whole Harry Potter phenomenon?
I like the movies well enough for a bit of light entertainment in the company of my 12 year old daughter. I did try reading the books, but I'm afraid I only managed part of Book 1 before concluding that it was overrated: not exactly drivel, just nothing special.
I have tried to take an interest in some of the more critically acclaimed books among my daughter's favourites (such as "Eragon", "The Golden Compass", etc) and I usually come to similar conclusions. Maybe I should give it another go.
I take the point that the series has been single-handedly responsible for a significant upsurge in juvenile reading habits. But I find it a little difficult to take seriously as quality adult fare.
Call me a literary snob, but the recent establishment of Harry Potter courses at some American universities is just plain silly.
Likewise, the commercial and media frenzy which accompanies each new book and film release. A chain of Canadian convenience stores has recently been denied permission to sell the final book, due out on July 21 2007, after they accidentally released some copies of the last book early, causing a "security breach" and a hurried restraining order slapped on those who had inadvertently received an advance copy. A spokesperson for Rainforest Books, the Canadian distributor of the books, was quoted as saying that "Security is our absolute, paramount concern".
What's wrong with this picture? This is a kids book, for God's sake! And what's with this 12.01am release time anyway? Wouldn't 12.01pm be a little more practical for bookstores (and for our little 12 year old darlings, for that matter)?
I don't have any references for it, but I clearly remember JK Rowling, after the success of the early Potter books, claiming that she would never sell out her professional integrity to commercial interests. Ms. Rowling (I can't call her "JK") is now reportedly a billionaire and richer than Queen Elizabeth, and she is at the helm of a worldwide multi-media industry. Oh, how things change!

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