Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I have a friend who's made me a special birthday dessert for the last fifteen years, believe it or not.

This dessert is just ridiculously, unreasonably delicious. It has whipped cream and nuts and lemon filling and a graham cracker crust. I've eaten things like it before, but then, nothing is really like it, because it's perfect. It just is.

So once a year, for my birthday, my wonderful friend Kim makes this dessert. She brings by a huge pan and I eat it in two days. Or less.

It's glorious. And as soon as I eat the last piece, I start thinking about next year.

That's exactly how I feel about the Harry Potter books. I wait two years, I finally get the book, it's the most delicious thing ever, I read it in two days, and then I start thinking about the next one.

I finished The Half-Blood Prince at around 2 a.m. this morning, and make no mistake, it's a wonderful book. Every book in the series is better-written than the one that preceded it, and every book gets darker. I can't imagine the next book being the last, although I know it will be.

What amazes me about the Harry Potter books is that we're not tired of them. I know I'm not. She's writing six hundred and fifty page books and I'd be happy if they were twice as long--her vision of the story is just so clear and unerring that I feel I'm reading the chronicling of something real, not made up.

I've said this before, but J.K. Rowling, much to her credit, has entirely avoided turning into an asshole. Many people can't handle fame, and many people's work can't handle fame, but she has somehow managed to be just a writer. And she's also reminded us how much children like to be challenged. They don't want to read sanitized thirty-page stories about ponies and marshmallows. Has anyone else ever written six-hundred page books for children?

And they absolutely love it. There's nothing funnier than seeing a ten-year old tote around a gigantic Harry Potter book. She's made kids want to read again, and for that we should all be grateful.

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