Thursday, 12 April 2012

My Reaction to 'Casual Vacancy'

Today J.K Rowling announced the title of her new book: Casual *snort* Vacancy. Here’s what we’re in store for:

When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.

When Barry Fairweather, when BARRY, BARRY – B-ARRY, dies. Barry – Harry. I see what you did there Rowling. I can only hope this is intentional, otherwise you may have just revealed your odd character fetish for men with names ending in ‘arry’. Also a preoccupation with these people dying. But less about my Rowling fetish speculations and more on... this news/revelation in general. 

If you have access to the internet, and have visited any review/news site that is even slightly inclined to nerddom, you will know people are losing their shit. Finally a replacement for the lighting shaped hole in their hearts! I myself am I huge fan of the Harry Potter franchise. While I find the movies a little lacking, the books are a tangible relic from my childhood. I remember Order of the Phoenix coming out one weekend and by the time I returned to school on Monday I had devoured the whole thing. Oh how I gloried in the power of the spoilers! Being one of the few people to have read the massive slab of a book, I would hang over people and whisper cruelly ‘Oh you like Sirius, do you? Attached are we? Oh you poor, poor soul... Muwaha!’

I have a lot of the actors on twitter. I know most of the spells, have spent hours, even days, considering which house I would be sorted into (I’m still torn between Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff), and can do I an almost perfect Bellatrix impression – ‘itty, bitty, POT-TAH!’ So am I excited for Rowlings new book? 

Not really. 

I have to be honest with you, this extract doesn’t get my heart pounding. If this was the blurb to any other book that didn’t have ROWLING stamped over the top, I wouldn’t give it a second glance. If anything it sounds a bit... cliché. ‘Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.’ This to me reads like something off of Fictionpress. An okay fictionpress story, that gets a couple dozen reviews, but isn’t anything too special.

Maybe my standards are too high, maybe I’m expecting too much from Rowling. But I don’t let my love of the Potter fandom blind me to Rowling’s faults. Because looking back at her work, it isn’t the best writing. She doesn’t summon outstanding imagery, sometimes the dialogue is a bit wooden, the prose a bit stilted. Writing isn’t Rowling’s strong suit.

However, what she does do well is create a world we can escape into with ease. No fan of Harry Potter can say they’ve never spent an afternoon imagining what it would be like to be a wizard. You picture yourself in those iconic robes, consider which wand to buy, imagine what class you would excel in. This is the real pleasure of Rowling’s work. This is what makes her an outstanding author.

So for me to see her write something revolving around a... village, I can hardly say my heart is pounding. Maybe she’ll prove me wrong. Maybe this village will be the new Hogwarts. Maybe I’ll spend hours thinking ‘what Pagford pub would I have a drink in?’ But at the moment this seems unlikely that’ll I’ll get lost in the world of Pagford.

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