Monday, July 16, 2007

Harry Potter Week Starts

I'm starting to sort of recover from the RWA conference. There's a part of me that just wants to collapse for a few days, while there's also a part of me that has tons of great ideas I want to get to work on. This week I think I'm going to compromise and work part-time, with one major "work" task per day and then the rest of the day free. That free time will mostly involve re-reading Harry Potter books. This is going to be Harry Potter week here on the blog, and I think I have some fun stuff to discuss. No spoilers, and I won't even get into speculation on the next book because I'm trying not to think about it. She usually surprises me, and I like that, but I'm afraid if I analyze too much, then I won't be surprised. Maybe later in the year after everyone's had a chance to read the last book I'll go back and do some plot and character analysis of the whole series. In spite of the summer release dates, I tend to think of these as "winter" books that are good for reading on a cold, rainy day, sitting by a fire with a pot of tea, so I think I'll do one big re-read this winter, and then I can post lots of analysis.

A few related notes from the conference:
I was hauling around Goblet of Fire in my tote bag to read on the train and in the rare quiet moments. It was funny to see how many people on the train were reading Harry Potter books. It's rather appropriate to be reading these books on a train because you can pretend it's the Hogwarts Express. That is, if you've got an overactive imagination prone to flights of fancy. Not that I know anyone like that. :-)

If you're reading a Harry Potter book on a train and you've got a star-topped magic wand sticking out of your tote bag, you might get some funny looks from people who probably think you're taking this waaaaay too seriously. But really, the wand is just a prop I use to decorate my table at booksignings, and that was why I had it in the bag.

It can be rather surreal to watch the movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire before and after watching an episode of Doctor Who. He's evil! He's good! He's evil! And either way, he's rather manic and not entirely sane! It was especially surreal with this particular episode that was loaded with Harry Potter references.

I guess all that getting up early to catch trains rewired my brain because, as exhausted as I was, I was awake bright and early Sunday morning. I also had a massive allergy attack, and I was out of baby Benadryl (the adult dose is too much for me, but the smallest infant dose works fine without knocking me out too much). I was about to head to Target when I checked the newspaper and found that I could see Order of the Phoenix in digital/quasi 3-D at half-price if I went at ten in the morning. So, I figured I could run by the movie theater on the way to Target. :-)

That was my least favorite of all the books, but it may be my favorite of all the movies. It's not so much that I think there's a problem with the book, just that it happens to push some of my personal buttons. That's the book out of the whole series that gives me nightmares, and it's not the stuff about Voldemort or even the giant snake (and I have a serious snake phobia). I know a lot of people complained about CAPSLOCK!Harry in that book, but even that didn't bother me because I thought it was a rather well-done portrayal of post-traumatic stress disorder and if Harry hadn't been acting strange after what happened, he wouldn't have been human. No, my issue is institutional unfairness. I've always had problems with the way Snape treats Harry and his friends because it's so blatantly unfair and nobody seems to do anything about it, but that's a tiny part of each book. In this one, though, almost the entire book is about that kind of unfairness, from the way the Ministry acts to Umbridge and the way she takes over the school, and it's very difficult for me to read. It crosses the line beyond the kind of tension and stress that are enjoyable to experience vicariously in books to being downright unpleasant to go through. There's still some stuff I love going on with the characters, but the main plot is incredibly frustrating to me.

I think the movie handled all the parts I hated in the book well by putting them in montage form instead of making us live every little detail, and the montages were actually quite humorous visually, so they became fun instead of frustrating. I'm re-reading that book now, and since I've got those visuals from the movie in my head, it's making it much more pleasant to read the book and it's made me like the book better.

I did notice as I left the theater that I'd put on a pink cardigan to ward off the theater chill and I was wearing pink tweed ballet flats, so I came dangerously close to dressing like Umbridge. Shudder. However, I was wearing jeans and I had my hair down and kind of wild in full-on Hermione bushy brown hair mode, so I think I'm okay.

In other news, today is apparently Tell an Author You Care day, and no, that's not a blatant appeal for attention. It's just a nice reminder about any author who's brought you joy. You can write a letter or e-mail to an author, post a good review at an online bookseller or book community, buy a copy of a book to give to a friend, or profile an author on your own blog. All that stuff really does make a difference. It not only makes the author feel good, but helping promote your favorite authors increases the chances that publishers will keep putting out more books by those authors for you to enjoy. Unless they're dead, of course, but then there are some authors out there who still manage to get new works published years after their deaths.

And, finally, feel free to use the comments to see if you can find other readers who'll be going to the same midnight book release party you're going to in case you want to meet up with someone else to discuss various fantasy-type books that night. I'll be at the party at Conestoga in Tulsa, so I won't actually be at a bookstore this year.

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