Exactly one month from now, I will be done with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, having snagged it at midnight from a local independent bookstore* and stayed up reading until I was done.
I am both excited and sort of sad.
I first met Harry Potter in 2000, when I was traveling in Ireland with friends. We were stuck far from civilization without a car, and I hitched into Kenmare one day to do some shopping. I also browsed at the bookstore, and picked up an assortment of books that looked interesting, including a piece of children’s fiction about a boy wizard. Sadly, I left my first copy behind in Ireland, although I have since replaced it.
I sort of forgot about Harry Potter until several years later, when I picked up another book, dug it, and decided that I needed to read the rest. In 2003, I waited with eagerness for the release of Order of the Phoenix, shamelessly waiting with bated breath at midnight, along with numerous children. At work the next day, everyone asked me how it went. After several glares from members of the public who obviously had not read it yet, I started taking coworkers to the back room one by one for the review. I did the same in 2005 for Half Blood Prince, staying up all night before an important job interview to read it. (I didn’t get the job, in case you were wondering, but I don’t think it was Harry Potter related.)
It will be an odd moment to close the cover and think well, that’s that, then. How much stranger it must have been for Rowling, who has been working on the series for over 10 years. And strange indeed to know what is going to happen to all of these characters while the world goes wild with speculation, rumours, and elaborate hoaxes. I’m sure that some of our blathering must seem highly amusing to Rowling.
I may not be nearly as fanatical about the books as some zealous individuals, and that is probably, upon reflection, a good thing. (Have you ever searched for Draco/Harry slash fiction? Eek. I mean, yikes.) But it will be fun and deeply satisfying to finish the series at last and talk it over with other fans of the books. Years of gleeful dissection lie ahead. I firmly believe that Rowling is a highly sophisticated and mature writer, and I am looking forward to seeing how she thinks things should end. I am also looking forward to the howling cries of rage from the fan community, no matter what she does…
This is kind of an aside, but I wonder if Rowling’s first and middle names were initially published as “J.K.” to allow little boys to imagine that the books might have been written by a man, a la “Franklin W. Dixon” and the Hardy Boys? Have we come so far, as a society?
*Amazon, as soon as the post office is willing to deliver millions of books simultaneously at midnight, you let me know. Until then, this is yet another clear instance of the independents having you beat. If you haven’t located one yet, Potter Parties has a listing of Harry Potter release parties across the country, and in some parts of the world as well. For some reason I don’t see Gallery Bookshop’s party listed (hey guys, someone on staff should probably submit!) This seems to be a general trend with independents, which are slacking on the advertising. Bad call, guys!