Sarah Avery (dr_pretentious) wrote,
Sarah Avery
dr_pretentious

No, I Haven't Started Reading The Deadly Hallows Yet

After Dan and I got home from seeing The Order of the Phoenix, I decided to reread volumes 5 and 6 before starting in on 7. Here I am, still mired in 5, so Dan's reading our copy of 7 first, under strict instructions to say nothing at all about it. I don't want to hear even one sentence in advance of reading it for myself.

(The current Harry Potter film is the best so far, which surprised me, because that book in the series was my least favorite on first reading. It's that the Hollywood-kid-movie sentimentality that marred the early films is finally gone. It always baffled me when the various directors lapsed into mawkishness, since the story doesn't need it. So hooray for David Yates, the first director in the bunch who really got it right.)

I'm zipping past all the Rowling-related posts on lj as fast as I can. Please, don't tell me a thing.

And yet, some of the non-spoiler comments on the book have caught my eye.

elphaba_of_oz says, There are many small moments of comfort in the book.

And I think that's one of the main virtues in the previous volumes that makes it possible for readers to go on, even very young readers, despite the relentlessly increasing bleakness. It's also one of the main virtues I think of when I see writing advice about tension. Tension is the big fetish these days, and as usual, fetishization is an indication that people have stopped thinking. Is your book not yet sold? That can only be because there's not enough tension in it. Do you have even one moment when the tension lets up? Expunge that moment, quick!

Right.

Well.

There's nothing on earth more boring to watch than a too-long car chase scene. And there's nothing on earth more tedious to read than a book whose primary virtue is tension. I say that having read literally thousands of freshman composition papers, so I know what boring looks like. There are fantasy series for adult readers that have lost me, after four or five volumes of avid reading, because the author's attempts to raise the stakes resulted in a string of calamities that turned just plain monotonous. If the outcome of every step for the protagonist is increasingly tense misery and failure no matter what s/he tries to do, fast pacing isn't going to be enough to restore suspense.

Books in which terrible things happen need to be leavened by small moments of comfort. Anybody who wants to know why J.K. Rowling's readers have been willing to follow her across thousands of pages from that first children's book about an 11-year-old all the way to the Deathly Hallows needs look no further than that.
Subscribe
  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 21 comments