[DWJ] Re: JK Rowling & Harry Potter

jodel at aol.com jodel at aol.com
Tue May 15 13:31:00 EDT 2007

The following is exerpted from one of the essays over on Red Hen. The 
one called 'Loose Canon.' That particular essay is the one where I more 
or less list a number of my creebs over Rowling's handling of her 


"I’ve belatedly come to the realization that reading the Harry Potter 
series is rather like watching Moulin Rouge. It is obviously cobbled 
together of largely recycled elements. Rather trite elements at that. 
Intersperced with deliberate silliness.

A musical with songs that were never designed to relate to one another, 
dance numbers that never quite actually materialize, and the whole tied 
to a transparently thin and basically ludicrous storyline, with huge 
set pieces that are just sort of *there* without any really convincing 
logic to them at all.

Moulin Rouge is a deal more recognizably mean-spirited and cynical in 
its presentation, but both are highly entertaining. And both are such 
awkward bundles of *stuff* that it is laughably easy to find a hook 
somewhere in there to hang “meaning” to.

Rowing has a fine talent for assembling existing elements into an 
entertaining product. Her writing unfortunately, is fairly rudimentary, 
which is frustrating. I wish that I could see what someone with really 
good writing skills could have done with the same elelments. But that 
is something that none of us will ever see. Or not where we can 
recognize it, probably.

I’m beginning to wonder whether the fact that Rowling was such a newbie 
may not be the reason she has managed to keep the balls spinning in the 
air so long. Her experience at writing isn’t varied enough to realize 
that it usually doesn’t work that way.

But, then, I’m also noting that there have been any number of other 
writiers in the past 25 years or so who break into the field and then 
settle down to writing series fiction, and it takes several books 
before it gradually dawns on you that they are just writing the same 
story over and over. In Rowling’s case, she is still writing the same 
story, and it really *is* the same story. The acid test will be when 
she tries to write something else, and we then see whether that turns 
out to be the same story too.

But the thing is that the story *does* heavily resemble the teen soap 
that some of the fans have disparaged it as, after working their way 
through HBP. She delineates her characters very nicely, and they are 
very human characters, but then she jerks them around like puppets in a 
manner that makes little sense except that it is in the script. Her 
world is missing large chunks of the nessesary foundation, and various 
major elements have never been explained — until you have to wonder 
whether they are real elements or just set-dressing deployed to serve 
as a vague looming threat in the background. Even such an apparantly 
fundamental question as “what is Dark magic?” has never been clarified.

At this point, while the series is still open, we can still hope that 
there is a payoff due regarding the inconsistencies. And there may well 
be for at least some of them. But there won’t be for all. There are 
just too many of them by now.

And the fact that the series is so close to its recycled components is 
why so many fans read it, are entranced by the character (stereo)types’ 
intereactions, and decide; “Hey, I can do that!”. And in a remarkably 
high percentage of the time, they can. There is a reason that the 
Potterverse has spawned so much fanfiction."
AOL now offers free email to everyone.  Find out more about what's free 
from AOL at AOL.com.

More information about the Dwj mailing list