Wednesday, September 26, 2012

J.K. Rowling: Famous Outcast

Now that J.K. Rowling's adult novel The Casual Vacancy is coming out Thursday, I finally want to read Harry Potter.  I normally loathe bestsellers.  I get claustrophobic on bandwagons.  I saw the movies because I love my husband, i.e. my husband blinded me with his adorable grin, and bound my hand in his as we glided across the parking lot so I could witness something that brings him so much pleasure.  Good wifey aside, I prided myself on being the only librarian on the planet who had never cracked open a Harry Potter book.  I knew enough about the plot and the characters to get by at my job, but no one could persuade me to read the stupid series.  

Until now.  If I'd have known the famous author actually feels weird and awkward, I would have read Rowling's books years ago.  Outcasts are my thing.  And what's more outcast than a famous outcast?  I had avoided Rowling's work because I assumed she was another rich, famous diva.  I am such an incorrigible snob I can only read popular stuff if the author feels uncomfortable in her popularity.

So, thank you Salon, for your nice tribute to a regular human being who happens to have lots of people's attention.  I have much more respect for her now.  Funny, my warm feeling towards Rowling's impenetrability makes me want to pay more attention to her. 

Here are my favorite quotes from Mary Elizabeth William's critique of The New Yorker's profile of Rowling

"If you can attempt to read the New Yorker story with a modicum of empathy for a very rich, famous woman with legions of obsessive fans and a British press that’s hacked her phone and camped outside her door, Rowling comes across as a human being who happens to be just as shy and vulnerable as, say, a writer." 

"Maurice Sendak was notoriously cranky. Harper Lee has spent the vast majority of her life as a famous recluse. And L. Frank Baum, a man who created one of literature’s other great wizards, was in favor of exterminating the Native American population. He was not great and powerful. He was a flawed individual..."

"J. K. Rowling is not Hermione Granger or Minerva McGonagall or even Bellatrix Lestrange. She never said she was. She never promised to stay at Hogwarts forever. She is, behind the curtain, just a person, one who happens to have created a fantastic world but who remains stubbornly life-size."
How dare a famous fantasy writer act like a real human being.
I'd put a hold on The Casual Vacancy, but I'm afraid it might ruin my reputation as a bestsellerphobic librarian.  I better wait a decade or so for that bandwagon to clear.