Wednesday, July 13, 2011

So Long Harry...

Sometimes I digress out of vintage books here, so humor me for a moment. I read The New York Times article by Dargis and Scott last night about the franchise of Harry Potter, and it got me to thinking about my own literary history with the book.

I've loved Harry Potter almost since the beginning. I was in my early twenties working for Barnes & Noble as the assistant to the vice president of children's books when the Sorcerer's Stone was published. I remember the YA buyer getting behind the book in a huge way and freaking out when Ms. Rowling saw him for the first time and said he was the spitting image of Harry, which he is... even now.

I was hesitant to read it, as I considered myself too much of a literary snob to jump on a juvenile bandwagon, but eventually, I succumbed to the nerdist in me and never looked back.


Though, I was so excited to share the story with others, that I gifted my first edition Sorcerer's Stone to my upstairs neighbor to read. You're welcome, wherever you are.

This weekend I'll be at the Alamo Draft House in Austin, Texas celebrating my birthday by watching the final movie installment, with my son, who at four years old, jumped on the bandwagon with me. His pediatrician had a cardboard cutout of Harry Potter on her wall, and the bird lover that my son is, he'd always say to me, "Momma, who's that boy with the snowy owl?" His intrigue finally got the best of me, and a few months before his fourth birthday, he listened to the audio book, and then begged to hear it again, seven times, over and over. I was hesitant to play him the second book, for fear that it was too scary, but he insisted.

After dozens of readings of each of the books (both outloud and on audio) and hours spent watching the movies, half way to seven now, he doesn't get scared by the films. He knows the stories so much by heart that he can anticipate the spooky parts and self-censor with his trusty "bunny blanket". Out of all the watching and reading, the only thing that ever frightened him was Lupin's werewolf character (both in literary and cinematic form). And the things that made him cry most were watching Fawkes fly away after Dumbledore leaves and reading about Dobby's goodbye on the beach. He loves those characters more than I do, and they've become so real to him that he's gasped in excitement when we've run into them in unexpected places.

I've loved every moment I've spent with those books and their subsequent film versions. Reading them curled up alone on the futon in my New York apartment. Getting an age-inappropriate crush on the actor who plays Ron Weasley (after his voice changed, of course). Staying up late at night listening to my husband read the books to the boy. Watching my son bounce up and down in his Ravenclaw robes while watching the Sorcerer's Stone for the umpteenth time. Sewing him his Fawkes costume last Halloween.

As a parent, I'm proud to say Harry and his universe will forever be a part of my son's childhood and literary history, even if he did just make it for the end of the party.

For that reason, among a myriad of others, I'll probably be crying when it's time to say goodbye. We both will.

But then again, you guys know we're easy...


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  1. I too enjoyed reading the series. Whenever a new movie came out, I would end up re-reading the books. I found that I read them so quickly when they first came out, I had missed some parts, so going back to read them again was a treat.

    I'm sorry, but I don't remember anything happening to Dobbie. What happened to him?

  2. oopps! i changed that part... don't wanna be a spoiler for those who haven't read!

  3. Oh I am so with you!! I think I am going feel. . . very strange after I see the last film -- they did such a great job making sure the movies matched the quality of the books...I laughed at your comment of being reluctant to join in on the bandwagon -- I had similar thoughts about YA fiction in general and now I seem to read it to the exclusion of everything else! (not really but I do love me my YA fiction :) ~Melissa

  4. i'll be thinking of you tomorrow night at midnight...

  5. I was a bit of a latecomer to the series and didn't start reading the books until I was encouraged to do so by a friend just before 'Deathly Hallows' (the book) came out. However when I did I read them I read them all in under two months, such a great journey. Went to see the movie this weekend and it was the best one yet.