So I like Harry Potter. I'm counting down the days until book 7 comes out. Get over it. There are worse things I could be hanging out for. A trend of wearing red and green without something in between. Michael Jordan's next comeback. Michael Jackson's next tour. The apocalypse.
What can I say? I'm excited! Whoa... Better be careful - that felt like a heart flutter. I'm deliciously apprehensive. There's a lightning-shaped twinkle in my eye. I'm constantly contemplating character conundrums. I'm flirting with farcical facts that figure prominently in the paperback palace of my mind. I'm thinking up theories about horcruxes, hippogriffs, Hermione and high heels - I've said too much. You will disregard that last remark. Move to strike. So ordered. Denny Crane.
Is it wrong that I'm excited about the page count? Book 7 looks like being the longest in the series. This is a big deal for me. I read quite fast. I like reading fast - it keeps the sense of pace and action that some books need. The downside, of course, is that books are often over far too quickly. So I read them again. And again. I read books like movies. I've been asked "Why read a book twice? You know what's going to happen." My response: I know that Leo dies at the end of Titanic, but that doesn't stop me leaping around the room yelling "The tard is dead! Arnold, you're a twat! And you almost ruined The Beach for me!" whenever I see his sad little face fade into the depths. Or something like that. Regardless, more pages = more Harry Potter goodness.
Maybe I'm more excited about the story being all wrapped up in a neat little package. I can generally find at least one thing in a book that is worth taking away and thinking about - whether it be storyline technique, characterisation, subject matter, dialogue, whatever. There are very few books that have absolutely nothing to offer. There are many in the Harry Potter series. The series picks a tone that is, strangely enough, reminiscent of Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (although you probably couldn't rebuild Dublin from its pages). By not using the first person narrative, but not acting as a completely impartial omnipresent observer, J. K. only goes inside Harry's head. This leads to a narrative somewhere between the first and third person, with the reader learning as Harry learns, a very effective way to keep an interest in the storyline. And no, it's not called a second person narrative. No one likes a smartarse.
The other aspect of the series that has confronted me the most is the development of the story. Sometimes I listen to an musician and think "Why has no one else come up with that?" Some melodies are so simple and obvious, so right, that it makes me shake my head and wonder why it took this long. Mathematicians feel this way when a simple proof is given to a complex problem, especially if the problem has been around for a while. J. K. has a gift for picking ways forward from plot situations that are the most true, and that resonate with readers. This is an incredible talent, and something I aspire to. It's a strange feeling when you reach a state like that, what Aristotle called "flow", even if only in random peaks. You know what to do next - it's obvious. Sometimes it takes trial and error, but when the right course of action presents, you feel awake. It's a lovely warm wet slap in the face, like an espresso. It's a great feeling. Again, something to work towards.
I could go on like this for quite a while, but my lunch break is never long enough, and I still need to reread books 5 and 6 to prep for the big day, so I'll leave it there. But picture me, round at my local bookstore next Saturday morning, rain, hail or, well, rain. This is Melbourne in July, after all. I'll have my free hot chocolate for pre-ordering the book, and I'll be quivering in anticipation next the furry little freak holding the broomstick. Or maybe I'll just be shivering. Melbourne, July, remember? And no, I won't be dressed up. I'm far too dignified for that sort of childish behaviour.