Friday, July 20, 2007

i need to hold my hippogriffs

On some of your blogs recently, I've commented about how I stumbled upon the whole Harry Potter phenomenon--basically this law professor that I admired and feared closed a complicated lecture with a p.s. he prefaced with "Now, hear me out." It was a little after the first HP came out and he had been reading it to his kids at bedtime. He confessed that it was the first of their books that he looked forward to opening every night and consistently kept reading after they'd fallen asleep. He said that even though it's a "kids' book," HP is an excellent read for anyone. I was so curious, I went out and bought it right after class. I stayed up all night, didn't do any homework and finished it in nearly one sitting.

Granted, I had the benefit of being the first person outside of that class to get hooked on what would become a billion-dollar franchise. (I'm sure if I hadn't discovered it so early on, the hype would have been an automatic turnoff.) I saw the first movie, but because they left out one of my favorite parts, I've been sour on them ever since. I get it; it's tricky to condense 900 pages into two hours of screentime, and I sure don't envy that job. But I still prefer the books--pacing is at your own discretion and no amount of CGI magic can top your own imagination. Plus, it's well-written (can't say that about a ton of books these days), exciting, unpredictable, and--with the cost of movies today--you get more entertainment for your money.

The last of the series comes out tomorrow, and I plan to be holed up and inhaling it as fast as I can so someone doesn't spoil it for me (last time around, somebody gave away the climax to a whole line of people waiting to buy the book). To refresh my memory, I've been trying to read the two that came before it, but I haven't been doing a very good job. And I think the frenzy of finishing on time is addling my mind.

* This week has been extremely busy at work, with my putting in 15-hour days three times and collapsing in exhaustion as soon as I get home. Last night I actually fell asleep early with the book on my face and didn't even notice for a couple of hours.

* When the train stopped in the city this morning, I was so engrossed I couldn't remember if I retrieve my monthly train/bus/El pass ($140) until I was almost all the way to the bus and didn't see it in the pocket of my bag. I ran all the way back to the tracks and went through 2/3 of the cars searching for it until the conductor announced on the intercom, "You have exactly one more minute, young lady!"

When I got off, defeated that I hadn't found it, he gave me a stern lecture about how I should either keep the ticket on a lanyard around my neck or just hold it in my hand instead of putting it into the little clip on the edge of my seat. He went on to say that I'd made them late getting back to the yard which really pisses off the engineer and these days money is tight for everyone and the chances of it being returned to Lost and Found are slim. Then he put his hand on my shoulder, looked down and me and said he hoped I'd learned my very expensive lesson.

I'm usually very good about holding onto that sucker and I thought I remembered taking it off the clip and putting it into my bag-- especially because the head of the sleeping guy in front of me was lolling dangerously near my ticket and I had to wait for him to shift to get it. Upon further inspection, it actually WAS in my bag, tucked between the pages of my datebook, which is why I didn't see it earlier. I still feel like I had to go to the principal's office for no reason, but at least I didn't waste my money.

* All that drama made me miss my bus, and another one didn't come for forty minutes. After I got on I was so distracted by the book that I didn't realize I should have gotten off until three stops past my office.

* After all the chaos of this past week, today is a slow day at work, and it's going to take all my will power to leave HP in my bag and focus on reports. But I'm sure I'll find a way to justify taking it out to the park for some catching up during lunch.

Despite all that, I still recommend ignoring the hype and giving the books a whirl to those who haven't already. You've gotta admit there's something special about a story that has got kids putting down their PS3s to pay attention. But after today, I probably should add a warning: READING HARRY POTTER MAY PUT A HEX ON YOUR BRAIN.

12 comments:

DCveR said...

The first books were ok, but when she wrote The Order of the Pheenix she simply went down the drain. Way too long for such a small plot, way too confusing, making it short: not worth reading. I've read it all in the hope it would be worth it, I got to the end feeling I had wasted my time.

cadiz12 said...

i felt the same about that one; but by the time half-blood prince came out, i forgot how much phoenix had dragged. but now that i'm past them both, i think there had to be a lot of groundwork in the former for the big ending.

Anonymous said...

Is it true that most English majors read Harry Potter and then say to themselves: "I could have written that"?

Radioactive Jam said...

Are you ever tempted to visit a train station and take a running charge into a brick wall, on the outside chance it might lead to someplace magical?

Syar said...

I think everyone agrees OoTP was draggy and possibly the weakest book.

So....have ya finished the last one?

Spoiler story : As I was queueing up to pay for mine, some royal beeatch in front of us flipped right open to the back page and started jabbering. I immediately stuck my fingers in my ears but I REALLY wanted to kick her ass. Thankfully, what I heard weren't spoilers. But still!

cadiz12 said...

thing is, it really is a good story. i'll leave the costumes, moveis and merchandising nonsense to children, but i do enjoy the books. all that imagining makes you look at the world like a kid again--wouldn't it be sweet if there were a secret platform at the train station, and if i managed to get on it, would i get out of going to work today?

i'm continually amazed a single person could think up such a complex and twisting plot path. and be so thorough about it. she must have had it all planned out before she started because there are so many tiny hints along the way and things recall back so well. more likely she had a crackerjack copyediting team.

supposedly the idea just "fell into her head" but i'm thinking she struck a deal with the devil. just kidding... sort of. however, she should stay away from writing romantic scenes in the future; that's a weak spot.

i didn't pick it up until saturday evening, but i finished it in two sittings; mostly bcause i didn't want to hear who didn't make it out alive before i got there myself.

i have a lot to say about it, but i don't want to be exactly what i was trying to avoid. bottom line, i'm glad i stuck with it through the years, despite the long waits between books.

it was definitely worth my time, even just for those hours, to feel like maybe there really is a little magic somewhere in this world. i am a little sad that it's over.

Lia said...

Syar - The nerve of some people! How dare she!

Anyhow, yes, it's a great series. There aren't a lot of authors that make people so totally oblivious to their surroundings, so immersed in the book world. Sometimes, the hype is right.

Alexandra said...

well i saw the first movie and it was cute- but that was abt it... never read any of the books... so you think i really should? movie was not a good sample?

Jon said...

I have just finished it and I'm sad it's over. I always am. Any good book will do this to me. Harry Potter more so than any other I can recall. He is after all, the boy who lived :)

The Stormin Mormon said...

Hahahahaha...

I have a PS3 and I have read all of the Harry Potter books. And I'm 24, with a "career" and all, and no kids...

naechstehaltestelle said...

Oh my, are you and I both *gasp* lawyers?!?!

ML said...

I got caught up in Harry Potter from the first word of the first book. I didn't even want to read the book, but a friend loaned me a bunch of books to read and included HP with them. I read them all and put off HP to the very end, still thinking I didn't think it would be very good. WRONG! I've enjoyed every book including this last one. JK Rowling, well done!