I should begin with some disclosure. I resisted the force of nature that is the Harry Potter franchise for a very long time. Then one Thanksgiving weekend, a bout of bronchitis laid me low and scouring the bookshelf for something to while away the sick hours produced nothing of interest for me. Finally, with gentle cajoling by Budge and great trepidation on my Tolkien adoring part, I began to peruse Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Two hours after reading, “Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much,” I went straightway into Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and two hours from thence barreled headlong from, “And together they walked back through the gateway to the muggle world,” directly to “Harry Potter was a very unusual boy in many ways.” Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by virtue of being somewhat longer, took three hours and when I saw what a tome Harry Potter and the Goblet of Firewas, I decided to stop for the night. Of course, at that point it was 2:00 AM and I was a bit sleepy. Once I tackled Year Four at Hogwarts the next day, I had caught up with the rest of the literate world.
I will admit to being impressed enough by the epic saga of Harry’s struggle against Tom Riddle that I agreed to accompany Budge to the June 21, 2003 midnight release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at the Barnes and Noble on Haywood Road. We got in line at 7:00 PM and to my extreme dismay found ourselves directly behind the Superintendent of Greenville County Schools and the district’s school board chairperson. Normally that wouldn’t have been such a bad way to spend nearly six hours, but being as I had a nice long letter printed on impeccably tasteful cream-colored cotton paper stationery with a beautiful four-color rendition of the school district’s seal on the masthead, these two people’s signatures on the bottom, and the whys and wherefores of my termination from teaching sandwiched between, it was a skosh awkward. Good breeding and 300 mg of Effexor CR kept me out of jail and off the news that night, but once the three of us made eye contact, it is safe to say the store’s overworked A/C units became rather redundant.
Whether or not said unhappy confluence of proximity figured subconsciously in my decision to read no further in such a delectable series, I cannot say, but read no further I did. I skimmed and scanned OotP, ignored Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince entirely, and skipped directly to the culminating battle scene of Book Seven during a Scholastic Book Fair my second year as a librarian. Still, I was and remain thoroughly impressed with the series and the world Harry, Ron, and Hermione inhabit.
However, I loathe and despise J.K. Rowling with every fiber of my being. To offer a family friendly paraphrase of one of my dear friend’s favorite expressions of contempt, I wouldn’t spit water in her mouth if her teeth were on fire.
My great acrimony towards Dame Rowling has nothing to do with her work. I think she’s a rather fine author, at least insofar as Harry’s adventures go. As a person, I think she is on par with Madame DeFarge, Annie Wilkes, and Imelda Marcos. See, Rowling is a huge success story any way you want to measure success . . . with money. She is currently holding down position #1140 on Forbes Magazine’s list of BILLIONAIRES. Screw the whole “1% crap” the Occupy Wall Street crowd is crowing about; this chick is a member of the 0.000001%. She is currently the only billionaire author IN HISTORY. You read that right, JK Rowling has made more money off her books than Willie Shakespeare. She has more money than the entire GDP of twenty countries COMBINED. Put another way, the woman could straight up BUY Djibouti and get change.
Now I don’t abhor the woman just because she’s rich; I abhor the woman because she has totally forgotten where she came from and here in the South a person can commit no greater transgression than this. She was dirt poor, living on the UK’s welfare system, busted-flat-in-Baton-Rouge-waitin’-on-a-train-Janice-Joplin style when she got a great idea for a series of books while — literally — waiting on a train, types out the first one on a secondhand manual TYPEWRITER in a cheap coffee shop in a rundown section of Edinburgh, a publishing house president’s eight-year-old little girl loves the first chapter, so daddy orders the book printed and the rest, as the man said, is history. That’s GRAND!
So, does she become a philanthropist doling out large scoops of this nuveau riche cabbage to folks in the same shape as she was? No. Instead, she becomes a raging witch slapping everyone in sight with a plethora of lawsuits aimed at “protecting her brand.” She has sued everyone from bookstores that “leaked” parts or all of her novels before their official release dates to one of her biggest fans because the guy wanted to publish an exhaustive encyclopedia of all things Harry Potter. She’s worked tirelessly to shut down any “unofficial” fan websites that might draw traffic from her proprietary Mugglenet.com. I imagine if she, by some miracle, stumbles onto this little blog she’ll want to sue me. Good luck with that, sister. Two words: Blood, Turnip. In short, she became wildly successful and now seems terrified someone is going to get some milk from her cash cow! So freaking what?! Is $1.2 BILLION not enough money for you, Jo? I don’t particularly like rich people just on principle, but I reserve my greatest execration for rich people who are jerks.
Now Her Royal Knickers-In-A-Knot has decided to publish a book for ADULTS. Oh, shouldn’t we all just fall down at her feet in thankfulness? So you apparently LOVE money, you have created a universe and characters people will nearly kill to get more of, you could sell rocks if you wrote alohamora on them, but you want to abandon Harry and Company to scratch some creative itch? Let’s see how that works out for you, toots. Before you start on the second non-Harry-centric work of your career though, you might want to Google up a cat named Chris Gaines and see where “creative risks” got him.
In the end though, I could forgive Rowling her peckishness with her adoring fans. I could even overlook her vast riches — provided I could find a ladder tall enough. What I cannot, nay WILL not forget nor absolve is the fact that — because of her phenomenal success — J.K. Rowling inspired another woman to think that she too could write engaging, creative fiction and craft beloved characters who will take their places beside Frodo and Sam, the Pevensie children, and Dorothy and Toto in the hallowed halls of masterful fantasy literature and because of that inspiration, we have Stephanie Meyer and her wooden female protagonist and those freaking sparkling vampires. That is a crime no lover of good writing could ever accept apology for.
Thanks for that, Jo. Stupid sparkling vampires. I’m sure Ron would say “Bloody hell!”
And to all of you, take care and keep your feet clean! Love always.