October 16, 2011


Today I completed my consumption of Harry Potter. It began not altogether intentionally on June 8 of this year when I clicked Play on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I theretofore had had no interest in the boy wizard, but my work colleague gave me the audiobook mp3s (1), so I thought what the heck. I figured I’d listen for an hour or two just to say I’d given it a chance and then put it back in the drawer.

Merlin’s beard, was I wrong! I’m pretty sure that it was less than 30 minutes before I was completely sucked in.

I’m convinced that a large part of the reason why I fell so easily was because I was listening and not reading. Afternoons at the office belonged to Harry. I found that he was the perfect accompaniment to my graphic design work (as long as it didn’t involve thinking). I was able to offer just the right amount of attention while working that the listening required. As much as I enjoyed it, I don’t feel like I would have stuck with it if I had been training my eyeballs on the paper versions.

As someone who has that common human fantasy of writing books for a living, I soon realized that some of what I found so fascinating was being aware of Jo Rowling’s craft. If I ever get around to long-form writing, I know it will be difficult for me to spin the tale in a leisurely enough manner so that all the interesting flavors have time to develop. She is a master.

I was really excited Thursday afternoon because I finished listening to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. One hundred fifteen hours of enthralling narration in total. Friday afternoon I had the shakes.

The same coworker also has all of the DVDs. So when I finished listening to a book, he’d bring me the movie to watch. He is my Harry Potter dealer.

The movies I found to be hit or miss. And why wouldn’t they be? How do you trim a twenty-hour book down to a two-hour movie? Even the shortest book was eight hours. Stuff is going to have to be left out. I wonder how people who hadn’t read the books got along with the movies. I was glad I knew what went in the gaps.

One thing that I absolutely loved about the movies was much of the casting. Who other than Dame Maggie Smith could have been McGonagall? Who other than Robbie Coltrane could have been Hagrid? Conversely, though I love Gary Oldman, he didn’t quite fit as Sirius.

So this afternoon I watched Deathly Hallows Part 1 and then this evening, a little thrill as I made my way to a movie theater for Part 2. That was some of my motivation for not wasting any time listening to the books. I wanted to finish in time to still find Part 2 in a theater so that I wouldn’t have to wait for the DVD to come out. Success.

It was kind of weird, though, too. I got to sit with 500 of my closest non-friends and listen to them rustling wrappers and chomping on the delicious real popcorn with real butter at this neighborhood, second-run theater. For the first half hour I had some trouble hearing the movie. Seriously.

Things eventually settled down and a good time seemed to be had by all. Applause broke out three or four times, which brought a tear to my eye (I’m much sappier in my advancing age). I do, however, look forward to watching again in the privacy of my own home in a few months.

So there you have it. Now what am I going to do with myself?

(1) I listened to the Jim Dale version and I thought he did a wonderful job. I know there are those who are every bit as enthusiastic about Stephen Fry’s reading. I found a respectful back-and-forth here.

One Response to “Potter-no-more”

  1. Rewa Schlosser Says:

    I know how you can get seduced by Mr. Potter…thinking I should have tried the audiobooks instead of reading the paper versions. Anywho, I discovered you while visiting the Twitter pages of my friends @lisatrout / @drawnwell & @understatedsexy. I will be visiting again.

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