Wednesday, July 18, 2007

High Hopes for Harry

by Hannah

Is anyone else caught in this quandry? I wait as eagerly as my twelve-year-old for Friday midnight, when hundreds of local families will finish up a night of "Quidditch," spells and contests with purchase of J.K. Rowling's final installment. Talk about summer treats. I have fond memories of evenings stretched out on the sofa reading the sixth book, a hot fudge sundae or two savored along with the story.

Harry Potter? I know. I read the first three books aloud, cover to cover, twice. Those editors missed more than a few awkward phrases and repeat words; there are a number of suggestions I would have made if wearing their shoes.

Yet a tiny voice in my head says the seventh book could surprise me, not just as a fan, but as a writer. I want to see the craft of the whole, now that it is complete. I want to believe.

Creating the arc of one story is, of course, something every author works hard to achieve. Rowling created seven independent arcs that could -- should -- curve together into a massive saga. I want to be astounded; please, let it be so.

Then, of course, how does it end? Not just for Harry, but for so many vividly drawn characters? Did Rowling found a way to give us an ending that satisfies without being too sweet, one that allows her to walk away from this world, should she so desire, for all time? Harry has the potential to say farewell as more than an angst-ridden teen with a wand and a vanquished evil enemy. He and his friends can deliver much more, if Rowling does.

I have theories: Snape and Harry's mother, Harry as a horcrux, Neville's potential, Wormtail's role to come. About who will die and why. Do any of the threads I think I am following trail off into nothing? Or are they woven neatly, tied tight?

The Potter series, according to one passionate analysis, builds on the experiences of England during World War II. A people who refuse to see the rise of evil, a few outspoken leaders, heroes who choose what is right over what is easy, heavy losses paid to win victory. Could this possibly be true? Or are there historians trying as madly to justify their love of a ripping good story from an academic viewpoint as I am from a writerly perspective?

The fan in me expects to enjoy the finale of this phenomenon. To my surprise, the writer in me desperately wants a seventh book that caps this series to perfection, and I don't know why I want this so much. Any thoughts?


Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

Hannah, I have had many of the same thoughts. Sure, as a writer/editor, I have found those little bits of imperfection in the writing, but as a reader I am completely invested in the story. Even more, as a mother, I ache to help Harry. It's funny how both my son and I love the series, but we experience it in very different ways.

I have many of my own theories about the end, but I'm exhausted just thinking about the posibilities. Right now, I am just eagerly awaiting midnight on Friday to snatch my reserved copy and start reading.

As far as wanting the series to be capped of to perfection...I completely relate. Part of me is rooting for J.K. Rowling as much as I am rooting for Harry. There are writers I admire, writers I want to emulate, and writers who have changed the world of children's fiction in such a way that hoists an incredible sense of responsibility on us all. I need this climax to make sense. It doesn't have to be pretty; it just has to come together for its readers. She has made us care. Let us be touched and saddened and elated and truly satisfied...pretty please.

Lisa Marnell said...

Please let Dumbledore be fine...
Please let Dumbledore be fine...
Please let Dumbledore be fine...

I shiver everytime I walk past a Harry Potter display. I want so badly to read it. Yet I am terrified to to find out what happens, and terrified that it will soon be over. I hate endings, that sad feeling as a child, when you put a book down and that world is closed.

Thanks for this entry, Hannah. It's like I started my day with a bit of magic. How delightful!


Therese said...

A great deal of Fantasy is based on such historic storylines as you mention--though not necessarily any of the modern wars.

I've enjoyed watching Ms. R improve as a writer with each successive book...but I confess I didn't read book 6, as my kids have grown out of HP almost completely and I, too, moved on to other reads...

But now that the final episode's about to play out, I mean to catch up so that I can know, too, how everything turns out for Harry and his author, both.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

I am so glad to hear you are caught up in this, too! I so much want this book to Be All That It Can Be, and not only as a reader (although I do have my sundae plans at the ready!). Rowling could pull off such a magnificent achievement; my fingers are crossed for her.


Crystal King said...

I'm pretty sure that Harry will die but not because it will stop future books. After all, you-know-who had supposedly died before, hadn't he?

For me I'll be stressing out because I won't be home when my shipped order is supposed to be landing on my doorstep and I'm worried that someone may try to swipe it! Any other book and I wouldn't have that worry. I'm still constantly amazed at how insanely popular that a BOOK is.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Whatever one thinks of Harry and his friends and enemies, isn't it wonderful that a book means that much to so many people? One woman's ideas, in ink on paper.


Larramie said...

Although totally clueless about the details of Harry's saga, I do understand the interest and hope that the final volume is nothing short of brilliant. Goodness, can you imagine the responsibility?

Enjoy your reading weekend, Hannah.

Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

Whatever one thinks of Harry and his friends and enemies, isn't it wonderful that a book means that much to so many people? One woman's ideas, in ink on paper.


Travis Erwin said...

The writer in my just wants Ms Rwoling to remain true to the characters and her original plan for the series.

If it all ends a little too happily ever after I will always wonder if the magnitude of the series popularity swayed the direction of the final novel.

Anonymous said...

All I ask is to come away with the feeling, "Of course." To experience the perfect conclusion that leaves me as a reader unable to fathom any other possible finish. That, "Of course it must end this way" logical finale that somehow still surprises and renders me incapable of any other activity until I've fleshed it all out. I have complete faith.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

I agree -- above all, the series requires a natural conclusion, no matter what that may be. Part of the answer as to whether anything changed over the course of time, as she experienced success, may lie in the fact that it was always YA?