It used to be a near-perpetual state whenever I’d checked out a book from the library in my youth. Less so when I became a teacher because there wasn’t time, it seemed, until summer rolled around, and then the pull eventually seemed to wear off.

I’m referring to that experience of losing yourself in a novel. When you feel so involved, it’s as if you’ve become one of the characters. When you neglect things like meals and sleep. When you know you really need to put the book down and do what you’re supposed to do, what you regularly do, but … just one more chapter … and one more after that … and why not just write off the day and commit to catching up the other stuff on the weekend.

Book-lost. That’s where I was today. Haven’t really been there in a long, long time. Oh, I’ve had small forays, but nothing so gargantuan as really being lost.

Where was I, you might ask. I’m chagrin to say. I was lost in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. For you that go by numbers instead of titles, that’s book 5, which is why I’m chagrin. When it seems the writing world has already dissected book 7 and moved on to something else, I’m just falling in love with Rowling’s books.

Maybe I needed to know where they were going before I gave myself over to the story, I don’t know. I know Rowling herself said this book 5 is one she wishes she could change, that she felt rushed in the writing. And there were some writing things that occasionally pulled me from the story. I even remember thinking at one point that it would be good for me to go back over the book later and analyze the writing, see what worked and what didn’t work.

I also had a friend say she thought Rowling forgot the fun in books 5 and 6, so I did think about that some. Granted, this book was much more serious than the first four. Harry was dealing with things in every phase of his life that were nearly intolerable. And yet … and yet … I became totally lost in the story, from about page 400 on.

I think what amazes me most is how old fashioned the Potter books seem. I mean, the story is told in a linear manner, in a single point of view. The chapters are numbered and titled, and the book is long—nearly 900 pages worth. In other words, it flies in the face of all the stuff you see some publishing houses doing to try to capture youth audiences.

Some of the herky-jerky style of writing feels more like MTV than reading a novel—points of view galore that shift every few pages, stories that a reader must piece together out of emails and journal entries rather than chapters. I don’t see how anyone could get lost in something so easy to put down ever page or so. 😮

Published in: on September 6, 2007 at 5:04 pm  Comments (3)  
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