>Let me get this up front – I’m not a big fan of Harry Potter. I read the first book, and enjoyed the Dahl-like ideas of living under the stairs and moving to tiny islands to avoid owl-mail. But it never really gripped me and it remains the only book of the series I’ve read. I dutifully watched the first four films with my kids, who grew up enchanted by Harry and his pals. But I only really enjoyed the one with the werewolf and grew tired of the bloated attempts to compress entire novels down to screenplay-size.
But I went to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince last night and, dang me, I really enjoyed it! I liked the straight-line story unencumbered by too much baggage from previous plots. I liked the teenage sexual politics. I liked the smart camera work. I loved Jim Broadbent to bits. And I find myself keen to find out what happens to these memorable characters in the final story.
At the same time, I’ve picked up my first Pratchett for a long time. I’m proud to have read Sir Terry from the start, enjoying The Colour of Magic when it was on its first print run and nobody had heard of Discworld. But, having devoured all those early novels, I peaked and my appetite for turtle-based fiction dwindled. Now I’m reading Interesting Times, not a particularly recent one but an apt choice as it reunites Rincewind and Twoflower, who kicked the whole thing off for me.
I always find Discworld books a bit hard-going at the start – the earlier ones at least, the later ones are structured a little differently. I find the choppy scene-changes, well, choppy, and get impatient for the strands to start knitting together. Then, just when I’m feeling at my most frustrated, I realise I’m reading a clever story that’s character-driven as much as it is artfully plotted, and that goddammit I really do care deeply about these absurd people on their absurd flat world.
You’ll have gathered from some of my previous posts that there’s a fair degree of nostalgia running through this blog. I make no apology for that – you’ll get the new stuff too, as and when it turns up. Right now I’m just tickled to be seeing wizards again.