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Say it ain’t so, Jo: Tell Oprah you will write no more Harry Potter books.

September 29, 2010

Jo and O prepare to thumb wrestle for world dominance.

News that Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling will appear on “Oprah” this Friday settles the burning question of which of these alpha-females, each among the richest entertainers in the world, is dominant. The slightly surprising answer: Rowling.

At least that’s the conclusion I draw after learning that Oprah traveled to Rowling’s castle in Scotland to land the interview. None of this visiting New York and sitting in front of an audience of raucous Americans for our Jo!

The Harryverse has been a-buzz with excitement since the interview was announced earlier this week. And rightly so: Rowling keeps a low profile except when a book or movie needs selling. The first film in a two-part adaptation of the last Harry book hits theaters in November.

I’d be much more excited if Rowling were going to appear on the “Late, Late Show” for a sit-down with fellow Scot Craig Ferguson. Okay, not much chance of that, as Ferguson has done a series of entirely uncalled for and hilarious skits lampooning Rowling and her wealth (more than a billion dollars and counting, all earned from Harry books and related products).

Check out Ferguson’s muggle-minded sketches here,  if you want to work up a righteous sense of outrage, or merely collapse in a fit of giggles and horse laughs. (“I’m bigger than Ooprah! Unless she porks out again.”)

Ahem. So…anyway, I can just imagine millions of Harry Potter fans (all ages, too), sitting in front of their televisions Friday, fists clenched in wishful supplication for Jo to tell O of her plans to write an eighth novel about the boy wizard. Alas, that would be a really bad idea.

In the seven existing novels, Rowling tells a long and complicated and magical story and ends it on a resoundingly satisfying note in the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Nothing can be added to the near-perfection of these books.

Attempting to rebottle that magic, however devoutly we may wish it, will only result in the dilution of the elixir we’ve already imbibed with such joy. Writing more Harry books will pose an intolerable risk: If they don’t measure up, they may well cast the first seven in a poor light.

The only reason for Rowling to write more Harry stories is money, ego or fame. As Ferguson reminds again and again in his sketches, she has plenty of money. She’s probably, at this point, more famous than Madonna. As for ego, I can only hope for her sake that it’s satisfied by the adoration of hundreds of millions of readers worldwide.

Still, the Oprah interview will have it’s points of interest, if this excerpt released at oprah.com is an indication: Rowling talks about the stress of sudden massive fame. She names Irish novelist Roddy Doyle as her favorite living writer, with other faves including Jane Austen, Colette, Elizabeth Goudge, E. Nesbit.

And, in a bit of news that will could make him a very rich man, anoints David Almond’s Skelllig “the best children’s book I’ve read recently.”

Rowling reveals that Hermione is “kind of a caricature of me when I was younger. I was obsessed with achieving academically, but underneath that I was insecure.” Awww. That’s not only sweet, it has the ring of truth, too, doesn’t it?

It’s fun to mock  someone as rich and famous as Rowling, but as I’ve said here before all indications are that she’s a decent sort. But — and I can’t emphasize this strongly enough — it doesn’t matter whether she is or not.

Forgive the finger-wag tone, but the person is a separate entity from the writer. All we have the right to expect is her very best work. I hope Rowling takes up her pen again, but if, like Harper Lee, she chooses not to, then we can still be grateful for the immense reading pleasures she’s given us.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. Connie permalink
    September 29, 2010 1:23 pm

    I don’t have a problem with Rowling writing something else (or never writing again)…but I think the Potter saga is done. Please, no prequels. It was a good story. It lasted seven books. That’s enough. Don’t cheapen it by stretching on into eternity…unless of course you have a spectacular idea! Then I’m willing to listen.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      September 29, 2010 2:55 pm

      I completely agree (obviously). I understand how anyone can feel he or she wants the joy to continue. I mean, after the last episode of The Wire (Yay David Simon! Official genius!), I was exhilarated, satisfied and also sad: I wanted more! Let’s do a whole new version with Sydnor as the new MacNulty focal character! It would have worked, too. But Simon and co. had gotten the good out of the project. Time to (sniff!) move on. Same is true with Pottermania.

  2. Candice Simmons permalink
    September 29, 2010 3:32 pm

    I have never read not one single Harry Potter novel. Saw the last movie, but that’s it. Am I the only one?

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      September 29, 2010 4:14 pm

      Yes, I say you are the only one.

    • September 29, 2010 9:09 pm

      Candice, you are not alone. So much reading to do, so little time. I do second the notion that Rowling needs to let HP get a life of his own. She must have more to say than Harry this and Harry that. You think?

      • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
        September 29, 2010 10:17 pm

        Probably she does. But if she doesn’t, she’s already made a great contribution to pop culture and –who knows? Time will tell — literature. She can retire to enjoy her riches without shame or regret.

  3. jmfausti permalink
    September 29, 2010 4:30 pm

    Rowling always said that she would end the series with the seventh book and from everything I’ve read, she seemed really set in that. She did intimate in an interview that she might consider writing about other characters in the Potterverse. I could possibly be interested in reading about a new set of characters and new stories set in that now familiar world. Mostly, I have to say that what she created was finite, but permanent. New readers will discover her books and Harry Potter and his kind will live on in their existing adventures. To pick up any remaining threads now would do author and audience a disservice.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      September 29, 2010 6:07 pm

      I agree strenuously. And yet once a writer has not felt the love for a few years, you never know what might happen. Arthur Conan Doyle went so far as to kill off Sherlock Holmes, only to bring him back after relentless hounding by fervent readers.

  4. September 29, 2010 9:16 pm

    Heavy sigh, Chauncey. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have readers clamoring for more of your creation, your characters? Yeah, maybe, but it would also be frightening as hell! Rowling has my sympathies. The knives are out. Following her billion dollar success with yet another Potter book would NOT be wise, I’m thinking. But then again, no guts, no glory.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      September 29, 2010 10:25 pm

      Problem is, the story’s done. Going back into Harry Potter would be a waste — wait, I made this argument already. I’ll agree with one thing: The knives will e out, no matter what she writes. But I think she’s got the talent to write more good books. I just hope she stays in fantasy, though I’d love to see her go adult.

  5. rachel permalink
    September 30, 2010 11:18 am

    I read and liked the Harry Potter books. But no more please! It can’t come to any good.

    Why are Ferguson’s skits uncalled for? I think they are called for since she is a) famous and b) rich. As South Park has shown us every one made fun of has done something to deserve it and moreover, it’s better to be made fun of then left alone when you’re a celebrity.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      October 1, 2010 3:13 pm

      I was being facetious. Ferguson’s skits are hilarious, in a way that is both juvenile and stupid and really, really smart.

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