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Let me say right now that I consider Rowling to ... could write a children's book that also appealed to adults?

I'll have to differ with you on the "brilliant author". She's a gifted amateur and a natural storyteller. But much of her writing is so far from professional that it makes really good bad examples. As of the last two books, far too much.
Loads of them. It's just that adults never find out about them because they don't read them.

One example is an ad-man named Theodore Geisel, who managed it half a century or so ago. Of course, he didn't have to sustain a plot over seven volumes and didn't need to use long words (except the ones he made up).
She challenged her readers. You don't know Latin? Well, go and look it up, then.

Not so much challenges them as pulls them into her world. Her Latin and knowledge of antiquities are shaky at best and not really important as such. They're more important for the imagery they create.
I can't think of anywhere in the Harry Potter books that my knowledge of Latin made me, for instance, chuckle in appreciation, rather than cringe at Rowling's obvious possession of a Latin dictionary without a clue of how to use it.

She's using it for the effect, not the meaning. IMO, she's not writing about wizards and magic, or cosmic battles between good and evil. She's writing about the British public school system (what we Yanks call private schools) and how children mature in it and cope with it. At her best, she captures and exaggerates its absurdity to the point of leaving readers convulsed with laughter. And the parodies of classical scholarship are spot on, even if their references aren't.

What bothers me about the fifth book is that lapses in continuity and motivation, which didn't detract so much from the first four, are becoming really glaring and end up trivializing what could have been a much better story. Makes me want to shout, not "Author, author!", but "Editor, editor!".

Chris Green
FWIW, Volume 5 is a tighter book, and despite its length, does not suffer from padding nearly as much as the earlier books. It moves along quite well.

Of course, you may very well be lost without having read its predecessors.
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The length, I must say, really bothered me. Someone, presumably ... 100-page idea and pad it out to 750 pages.

I have a suspicion that it is because established writers can tell editors to go to hell if they don't ... happened to Raymond Feist, who's first book was magic, until the "uncut" version was published - they shouldn't have bothered.

You've just reminded me of a similar disaster. One of Isaac Asimov's best-known short stories, "Nightfall", was rewritten by Robert Silverberg as a full-length novel. (Presumably with the agreement of Asimov, although I've forgotten the details.) Now Silverberg is a first-rate writer, and the reworked book was not a total failure. Nevertheless, the main reaction it evoked was the feeling "Imagine how much better this would have been if written as a short story."

Peter Moylan (Email Removed) http://eepjm.newcastle.edu.au (OS/2 and eCS information and software)
You've just reminded me of a similar disaster. One of Isaac Asimov's best-known short stories, "Nightfall", was rewritten by Robert ... reaction it evoked was the feeling "Imagine how much better this would have been if written as a short story."

I don't think the premise of the story works unless the world on which it is set has a single compact continent and is otherwise all water. Can anyone enlighten me?

Bob Lieblich
In the dark, as usual
Okay, so this one time? In band camp? Robert Lieblich was all, like:
You've just reminded me of a similar disaster. One of ... this would have been if written as a short story."

I don't think the premise of the story works unless the world on which it is set has a single compact continent and is otherwise all water. Can anyone enlighten me?

I've read both the short story and the novel, and I don't understand your objection...why would the topography of the planet have anything to do with whether the eclipse would bother the inhabitants?...if it's your intention to argue that the eclipse would only be visible over a small portion of the planet's surface, you could achieve the same effect with ranges of impassable mountains or dense jungle, or just assume that people who evolved on a world of perpetual daylight wouldn't have the "explorer" instinct common here on earth..
In any case, allowing people to live outside the penumbra doesn't change the basic "stars come out -> people go mad" concept...those people would simply remain sane while the ones in the city underwent the ordeal...it does however mess up the further "-> civilization comes to an end" postulate unless you want to send the now-loony ones out the next day to trash the rest of the planet..r
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Okay, so this one time? In band camp? Robert Lieblich was all, like:

(Sorry, R.H., I never once went to band camp. My music teacher wouldn't let me near a rubber band. So, flattered as I am by your introductory language, you might want to reconsider.)

(speaking of Asimov's "Nightfall":)
I don't think the premise of the story works unless ... continent and is otherwise all water. Can anyone enlighten me?

I've read both the short story and the novel, and I don't understand your objection...why would the topography of the ... it's your intention to argue that the eclipse would only be visible over a small portion of the planet's surface,

That is indeed my intention. I don't have a copy of the story handy, but my recollection is that the planet was in a system of multiple suns (six or seven, I think), and it's too much to expect them to line up in a configuration where all seven of them are eclipsed and have that eclipse cover more than a small portion of the total surface of the planet. Our one-sun, one-moon system doesn't have eclipses that cover more than a small fraction of the planet.
you could achieve the same effect with ranges of impassable mountains or dense jungle, or just assume that people who evolved on a world of perpetual daylight wouldn't have the "explorer" instinct common here on earth..

I'm not persuaded, but even granting your premise I still think Asimov left too much to inference. Of course he was all of what? 21 years of age when he wrote the story.
In any case, allowing people to live outside the penumbra doesn't change the basic "stars come out -> people go ... postulate unless you want to send the now-loony ones out the next day to trash the rest of the planet..r

Just my point.
As I recall, "Nightfall" finished first in some poll or other to name the greatest short SF stories of all time. Much differerncy my carping will make.

Bob Lieblich
Next week: The modern computer and Clarke's "Nine Billion Names of God"
Thus spake Peter Moylan: I think you have it there. Novelty only works the first time.

Still, Rowling kind of did it to herself; she sold ... the "world" in which all subsequent books must take place?

Books and films like that often do establish a fan base. Nearly everybody reads/sees the first one, fewer bother with ... Rowling had done anything too different in the second and subsequent books she would have alienated her most loyal readers.

Having read all five, I'd be reluctant to call it great literature, but it has prompted children to take pleasure in reading books, and it fulfils a need for intra-group discourse of belonging that are such an overt part of childhood.
It is also well written enough for parents to read to their smaller children, something I suspect doesn't happen quite as often as it should.
The last book was rather like a pleasant amble to nowhere in particular. You set off in a familiar vehicle. In pleasant weather you see the old and recognisable landmarks, you notice one or too novel things as the coast appears in the distance, and then the road ends at the beach just as you thought it must.
I've been doing a running count of people carrying HP books on trains while travelling to and from university. Almost all in the two weeks I have done it were adults (29 adults, 4 apparent children (in school uniform, or obviously young)). Most seemed engrossed (they were a substantial way in) and unembarrassed about carrying a children's book in public. (I feel confident that this is correct syntax, but there's something odd-looking about "a children", and yet "a child's book" would not be the same).
The majority (19) were male. Only two people were plainly older than
30. I spoke to one of these, who said he was re-reading OOTP, afterhis ten- and 12-year-old daughters had finished with it. Apparently he had also recently read Terry Pratchett and most recently, the Jasper Fforde series.
Schwärmerischer grüße
Chrissy
On Wed, 13 Aug 2003, in message
(Email Removed), chrissy writes
I wasn't asserting that Pratchett or Fforde was writing for children. I was interested to see what an adult moved to read OOTP twice would also be interested in reading.

I completely missed that. Sorry.

Mark Browne
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It's not the custom, I know, of this group to publish book reviews. My excuse is that this isn't really a review of one specific book. It is, rather, a gripe about some disturbing trends in the publishing industry.

Some now believe that JK Rowling should receive a Nobel Prize for Literature:

http://www.hpana.com/news.cfm?nids=16650 nobel prize for jk rowling