Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

By J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

29069989

Ok so it’s a new Harry Potter! But it’s a play! And J.K. Rowling didn’t write it all by herself! But it’s a new Harry Potter! And J.K. Rowling is one of the authors!

I have to say, Scorpius Malfoy was my far and away favorite character in this book. I think he really made the story shine and really identified it as something that J.K. Rowling had her hand in.

If you’re a big Harry Potter fan, you’ll want to read the story because, really, how could you resist?! Just like I know you’ll be seeing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them when it hits theaters later this year.

I won’t be discussing plot for those of you who haven’t read it yet, but I really need to go see this play. So if someone wants to donate a roundtrip ticket to London and tickets to the show, I wouldn’t say no! Or you know, if we can just hurry up and get this on tour in America. That’d work, too.

 

 

The Casual Vacancy

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

This book has been a mixed-bag of reviews. Here’s mine:

I want to preface this by saying I haven’t read a Harry Potter book since the last one came out. So, I think it was much easier for me to distance myself from Rowling, the-author-of-Harry-Potter, and to think of her just as Rowling, author.

As I was reading this book, I kept having a recurrant thought which built on each reappearance. 503 pages later, here is the finished product: This is an ugly novel about ugly people with ugly lives.

Which, I think, is what she was trying to do all along. People mentioned that they didn’t like any of the characters, didn’t like the sex/drugs/affairs/rape/insert-morally-offensive-topic-here, and just generally found the whole thing to be overwrought, too long, too much, too this, too that.

I read some snippets of Renee’s review (The Quick Red Fox) and find myself inclined to agree with her. This book reminds me very much of Kent Haruf’s Plainsong and Steven Gilbert’s A Lovely, Indecent Departure. All three novels are a bit ugly, about ugly people and ugly lives. In order of likeability and degree of ugliest, Plainsong emerges top of the heap and The Casual Vacancy squarely at the bottom.

In an odd way, I think slice-of-life novels are among the most difficult to pull off. I should know. I’m writing one. For one thing, they don’t rely on a super-charged plot. It’s amazing how much readers will forgive if the plot is exciting/interesting. I’m extremely guilty of this. But in a slice-of-life, you have nothing to hide behind. There is only the strength of your own writing and your own characterization. No mystery, no magic, no thriller. Only words on a page and how you convince the reader to keep going.

I sat next to someone on the plane yesterday who asked me about the book. He didn’t even know the premise. I had a hard-time explaining it.( At that time, slice-of-life was evading me. ) It’s odd though. We don’t have a lot of ready-made words for these types of novels. Partly, I suspect, because slice-of-life novels often find themselves thrown underneath the umbrella of something else and partly because stories of this kind have greatly fallen out of fashion. I can certainly think of more “classic” slice-of-lifes than their modern counterparts.

I liked this book. I did. Do I see why people didn’t like it? Absolutely. In fact, this book probably would have been better hailed if it didn’t have Rowling’s name on it. I remember, once, I was reading an article in which someone postulated that Rowling might take a penname for all future works. At the time, I didn’t see that it mattered. Now, I do.

I do like that this novel was so ugly in so many ways. People and real-life are often quite ugly. That’s why some of the best novels about crime are the non-fiction ones. Because truth is often stranger than fiction.