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Old 01-24-2008, 05:10 PM   #16
nekokami
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Originally Posted by montsnmags View Post
Oh, that's an easy one. If you go into a book store, you'll see some shelves are marked "Literature", and some are marked "Fiction". It's good that way, so you don't waste your time on the inconsequential stuff.
Don't waste my time on the inconsequential stuff... skip the shelves marked "Literature" and "Fiction" and stick to "Science Fiction." Got it.

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What really bothered me about the the hype was that her books read like a comic book plot or even other well-written fantasy series before her. I'm a big comic book fan, as well. I love that stuff. I eat it up. And when I read a story about a school of "gifted youngsters" who have to hide their identity from the outside world, what else would I think of?
Umm... Diana Wynne Jones' Witch Week c. 1982? The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper, c. 1973? I think I could come up with quite a long list, many of which would also predate the comic book series you're referring to. The interesting thing, to my mind, is that Rowling apparently didn't read any of these. There's something sort of bizarre to me about an author setting out to write a 7 book series in a genre that she doesn't even read. Some of her fans apparently think that helps her work seem more fresh and original, but to me, it also contributed to her tripping over plot problems that other authors have worked out before her (e.g. time travel). But I have to admit, based on her interviews (and I think she's telling the truth), she wasn't especially influenced or inspired by any of the other fantasy series (or comic books) before her. The "school story" has a long tradition, especially in the UK, and I'm pretty sure she read many of those books, but apparently she really hasn't read much fantasy, so if she's covering familiar ground, it's coincidence borne of cultural roots deeper than just what's been selling in the book and comic world.
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Old 01-25-2008, 02:56 AM   #17
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The "school story" has a long tradition, especially in the UK, and I'm pretty sure she read many of those books,
Such books - especially the almost countless such books by Enid Blyton - formed a significant portion of my juvenile reading. I would think that it would have been almost impossible for her to have grown up in the UK and not read those books. Literally everyone did at the time, and she's only a couple of years younger than I am.
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Old 01-25-2008, 03:09 PM   #18
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Reading Harry Potter is popular. I'm skeptical about its long-term carryover effect for other literature. As someone who has loved books his entire life, I found it pretty irksome when the Pottermania hit and I had to suddenly defend my literary tastes against those who viewed Harry Potter as the pinnacle of literary achievement (an old argument with a friend from school comes to mind: he tried to argue that HP was better than Tolkien's LOTR; the heated emotion and sense of blasphemy that I felt is hard to explain). Only after I read the first four books of HP (which is how many there were at the time) did I understand why it was a popular series. It is a good series, but not great. I can't help but feel that if these people read more, they would understand that.
It's a matter of perspective.

I used to run into folks who thought Piers Anthony was the greatest writer in the world, based on the Xanth books. Well, sure, it's easy to think that way if you haven't read much of anything else, and have no standard of comparison.

Along similar lines, I'd see comments from folks who read David Edding's Belgariad, and wished it had gone on forever. I read the Belgariad with reasonable pleasure. Eddings has a smooth prose style and a gift for dialog. I plowed rather grimly through the sequel, which I felt was "color by numbers" fantasy, and by the time I finished, I felt like it had gone on forever. I discovered that Eddings has one story to tell, with one set of characters, and each series simply changes the names and files off the serial numbers.

And then there were the folks who read Terry Brook's "Shanarra" books, and thought LoTR was a rip off. Er, savvy copyright date? Tolkien wrote these books before Terry was born...

I haven't read the HP books yet -- so many books, so little time -- but I know people with sophisticated tastes who are writers themselves who love them. And Rowling got a whole generation of kids reading, voluntarily. I'd forgive a number of sins for that.

Tolkien sits on the top of my fantasy shelf. There are a few things that might sit beside it: C. S. Lewis's Narnia series, E. R. Eddison's _The Worm Ouroborous_, Lloyd Alexander's _The Chronicles of Prydain_ - but just about everything else is second or likely third shelf.
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Old 01-28-2008, 03:27 AM   #19
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I love the HP books. Wonderful series which is, I am certain, destined to become (if it's not already) a timeless classic, like "Narnia".
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Old 01-28-2008, 04:42 AM   #20
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I wonder if I can find it on the darknet ...



I really tried to fend off the potter mania that gripped those around me, until I succumbed (succame?) and read the first one (I always start at the beginning).
It is a gripping and fun read. At least it was at the beginning. The last few were so dark and sad and confusing, I pretty much just read them because I had to find out how it ends.

But at the beginning I marvelled at the amount of detail Rowling put into the descriptions, how everything was thought-through, and how close to reality it actually was.

Anyhow ... you can't say a book sucks when you haven't read it.

Last edited by mores; 01-28-2008 at 04:48 AM.
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Old 01-28-2008, 09:05 AM   #21
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I avoided them for a long time, due to marketing hype and the goofy (IMHO) covers of the US editions. Then I was traveling for work for a week, and ran out of things to read. (This was before I had an ebook reader.) There was a book store in walking distance, so I wandered over. A couple of friends with good taste in books had given their opinion that the HP books were readable and fun, and I wanted something relatively light, so I picked up the first one. The second night, I went back and got the second one. Then I had a difficult struggle with wallet and luggage (no, not The Luggage) over whether to buy the third one in hardcover, which gives you some idea of when this happened. I was able to wait until I got home and could borrow it from the library. I bought the next four as they came out, in hardcover (though I was actually first on the waiting list at my local library to read Goblet of Fire).

As I've said before, I think the series peaked at volume 3, but the others were worth reading, and I've re-read all but the last one (I'll get to it eventually). I know it's inevitable to compare them to other "great" fantasy works like LotR, but I think they aren't really in the same category. Lloyd Alexander's Prydain books would be a better comparison, I think, though the authors have very different strengths and styles.
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