Guardian review

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Fri Apr 28 13:11:57 EDT 2000


On Thu, 27 Apr 2000 11:26:09 +0100, otheng wrote:

>> I laugh myself breathless thinking of DWJ as something I read to pass the
>> time waiting for a new Harry Potter.  More like, I *might* get the fourth
>> Harry Potter sometime between now and _Year of the Griffin_....<<
>
>Don't diss Rowling - she has a lot to learn from an expert like DWJ, but the
>Potter books are good - and they get Year 7 boys to read - it's actually
>*cool* to discuss HP books! (Sounds like a sauce.<g>)

I'm not dissing her.  I do like the Harry Potter books.  The point is,
they're not what I'm anxiously waiting for.  :)

The thing that really, really interests me about the Harry Potter phenomenon
is that it demonstrates the gap between diehard fantasy readers and casual
or mainstream readers.  Reactions like those in the _Guardian review_ are
fairly common, I think; there are people who simply have no idea what's
available in the world of fantasy literature and hence see Rowling's books
as incredibly fresh and original and groundbreaking.  Which they aren't--for
all their other wonderful qualities (first among which is Rowling's tendency
to get better with each book, which I love to see in new writers).  I mean,
as long as they're wildly popular, at least they're pretty good and not
dreck.

(I try not to be uppity and elitist about this, but a lot of what I read
from the popular media (*not* literary reviewers) about the Harry Potter
books just reminds me how little most people know about speculative fiction
in general.  This probably just makes me a nerd.  Oh well.)

And truthfully, the _Guardian_ reviewer is right in a sense: DWJ has fallen
out of sight of many readers.  Probably it's the fate of a lot of so-called
"young adult" authors; I know when I gave my sister-in-law _Howl's Moving
Castle_ she said "This is a *kid's* book" in much the same tone you might
say "This is a disgusting *worm*."  And then came back after reading it and
said "sorry, I passed it on to my sister, I liked it so much I knew she
would too."  I was really fortunate to get the thing back at all.  Too many
adult readers make unwarranted assumptions about her books and never get
around to finding out that these "kids'" books are more complex than a lot
of what floats around on the bestseller lists these days.

Anyway, I say cheers to J.K. Rowling for finding an unexploited market niche
and making a bundle off it!  And--do you suppose that all those DWJ reprints
are in reaction to the fabulous success of Harry Potter?  :)

Melissa Proffitt
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