Friday, February 25, 2011

Harry Potter, Magick, and Vampires

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In my avocation of book reviewing, I began by telling editors "No fantasy, please. Nothing like Stephen King. Or JK Rowling. And especially no vampires."

I find the real world fantastical enough with moving in that realm. Admittedly, I did read Fowles' The Magus. I've also read one Stephen King: The Green Mile. I read Fowles because my reading appetite was omnivorous in those days gone by, enough so that Fowles probably stood on my book shelves along side a collection of Hemingway short stories and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I read The Green Mile (which is a short King, probably readable in less time than it takes to watch the film) because I was enthralled with the movie. Apparently I am instinctively drawn to the savior/sacrifice legend in our genetic make-up.

Someone recommended the first Harry Potter book to my wife. She read it and raved. She passed it along to our then-teenage sons. One read it. The other stuck to the Sci-Fic Channel. Then she suggested I read it. I couldn't get past the first page. When the first movie came out, I fell asleep watching it.

And then a month ago, I received (from a reviewing service that doesn't allow reviewers to select books) two fantasy books. One was a Stephen King type, but with the wordiness pared down to a tolerable level. The other had as a protagonist a true, but fabled, historic figure who exists as a vampire. Both are set-ups, I am sure, for a series.

And that fact may be a key element in why I could again plow through Fowles or Pirsig, but I cannot find time and effort to read modern fantasy. Vampires and their ilk are entertainment, and entertainment appeals to whim, to emotional make up, to whatever neuro-chemical is emitted to make us feel, or forget, for a few moments.

To say this isn't to denigrate fantasy. It is meant to say that I have come to understand I find my entertainment elsewhere -- westerns or mysteries, for light reading.

Enjoy your Rowling. I will seek out Dick Francis or John D. MacDonald. Or Elmer Kelton, a western writer I recommend highly.

  1. Feel free to leave a comment suggesting I am a lazy lout for avoiding the intellectual challenge encompassed in reviewing a fantasy novel.
  2. Latest published Kirkus Review: Nude Walker

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