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August 01, 2005

Pratchett Headed for Slytherin? Not Quite...

by Ron Hogan

Neil Gaiman comments on the mini-controversy caused by Terry Pratchett's letter to the Sunday Times (reproduced here) in response to a recent Time profile of J.K. Rowling. In comparing the Times letter to the BBC account, it certainly looks like the Beeb's trying to make trouble; as Gaiman says of Pratchett's statement, "I didn't see it as a swipe at Ms Rowling, but as a swipe against lazy journalists," having earlier said that the profile was "astonishingly badly written and worse researched." He adds that the reporter (Time staffer Lev Grossman) presents an "utter bollocks" interpretation of the history of fantasy literature, which Grossman claims "tends to be deeply conservative--politically, culturally, psychologically[--and] looks backward to an idealized, romanticized, pseudofeudal world, where knights and ladies morris-dance to Greensleeves."

Oh, the SFnal bloggers are going to have fun ripping that apart--but the idea that Lev Grossman screwed up a story about genre fiction will come as no surprise to even a mainstream bookblogger like Ed Champion, who once called the Time writer "Chickenhead of the Month." Other bloggers, including Maud Newton and Mark Sarvas, have found bones to pick with Grossman's take on literary trends, too; heck, Google reminded me that a few months back I'd attacked his "weak idea of satire."

As for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I finally read it this weekend, and my first thought was that Rowling could've shaved about a hundred pages off if people would just start trusting Harry for a change. In some respects, the whole thing is really just one big set-up for Book Seven, but it does have plenty of good bits, and fans aren't going to be disappointed--well, except maybe by a certain beloved character's death...but then again, we've always known deep down Harry will have to face Voldemort alone.

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