Thursday 26 July 2007

Harry Potter and the End of the World

I will probably never read Harry Potter. I have my own good reasons, and here they are. First, I have this theory, right or wrong, that anything loved by the masses is usually crap. No, it's not out of snobbery that you won't find the 'top 10' hits on my CD rack, it's just that I think they're pure rubbish. Same for cinema. Films which roll off the Hollywood factory floor, smashing one record after another, aren't exactly my favourites. Same for food. And same for books.

Now, I don't for a moment contend that all things which are popular, or mass-appeal, are pure junk. Not so, but invariably most are. And I'm not going to try out top 10 music, for I know that in all likelihood, it will swiftly be making its way air-born from my CD deck to the old poubelle. (Ah, you didn't like that, a snob using a French word to show his sophistication. What a tit. Ok then, I'll condescend, and we'll settle for 'bin'!)

But the main reason poor Harry will lie forever at the bottom of my wish list is this: Tolkien. Yes, J double R taught me something about myself: I hate fantasy. A friend of mine advised me that The Lord of The Rings was one of the wonders of the world. And he said the best introduction was The Hobbit, and, moved to tears that he had made a convert, he loaned me his copy.

I delved in. Immediately the fantastical and, excessively minute descriptions began to heap up and up, piling upon still more depictions, that soon I felt I had borrowed into and endless thicket of excruciating and mostly pointless detail. The minutae were sprayed out ad nauseum - Hobbits come of age at such and such an age, and eat potatoes and cheese. I mean, for heaven's sake. It seemed like J double R decided to list every observable trait that an animal, or perhaps more generally a thing, can have, and then modify it to a greater or lesser degree. In the end, I laboured so much in that torturous thicket that I decided to back out for a taste of the real world. I needed to loosen my collar and take a gasp of breath after every few pages. And that is how I turned my back, forever I hope, on that intricate, over-contrived, and to me at least, absurd world of the Hobbit.

And that foray into "High Fantasy" killed any appetite I had for plain ordinary fantasy as well. (It seems this fantasy genre has two levels, J double R residing at the higher layer, and HP making do with a lower stratum. Can they do anything simple?) So poor old Harry P will be read by me only if there occurs some apocalyptic, world-altering event - such as is wholly the norm in his own universe - which leaves me inhabiting a world where only he and I exist.

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