Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Harry Potter, sacred cow

First David Kipen had the gall to give the latest Harry Potter a lukewarm review. (Full disclosure: he reviewed my book, too, and was considerably kinder.) Now he's gotten a torrent of hate mail from thin-skinned muggles all over the Bay Area, including at least one grammatically-challenged death threat:
When somebody e-mails to say, "Seriously bitch u need to watch what teh fuck you say," it certainly commandeers a critic's attention. Add to that the dozens of correspondents who took the trouble to call me dork, idiot, schmuck or worse, and it's all occasioned some serious soul-searching here on the literature desk.
Kipen is actually quite gracious about the whole affair, answering some of his correspondents' gripes and commending a critique by his 10-year-old niece. He also asks: "Is this degree of protective devotion some form of mass hysteria, or a hopeful development in otherwise unreaderly times?" I'd opt for the former, myself. Surely J.K. Rowling, the most successful author of the modern era, can handle an occasional nicker of negativity (that sounds like Spiro Agnew, doesn't it?). Even Harold Bloom, who's been fighting a one-man battle against Pottermania for some time, concedes that there's no point in complaining. “Protesting Harry Potter is like standing in front of the Atlantic Ocean," he said during an interview last year. "It’s ridiculous, you haven’t got a chance.” Which hasn't stopped Bloom, or Kipen, from trying.

The Harry Potter books have failed to capture my interest, perhaps because I'm not a parent. Indeed, I wonder how many adult HP enthusiasts would have bothered with the series if they didn't have children. I'll check out the Bloom interview.
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