Monday, July 18, 2005

Well, I have to do this. Just check the name of this blog, for heaven's sake!

I did speed-read Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince through most of Saturday night. It was worth every minute of it. Thought of a good many things to write about on the blog while I was reading it, though it all eludes me now.

When you read a book like that, not letting go of it for even a minute, not even for loo breaks, the inevitable happens. You finish it too soon. When I had just started reading it, there was this terrible decision I had to reach. Should I take it slow and easy, read it chapter by chapter, savouring the feeling of actually reading a new Harry Potter book – one which holds surprises and unexpected twists and turns, one that I didn't know like Jack and Jill went up the hill, or should I just whoosh through it like I always do? This whole tortuous decision-making process lasted all of two seconds while I continued gobbling it up like I always knew I would.

When I had finished it less than 24 hours later, I felt classically bereft and lonely. (Ok, anybody who thinks this is sinking into bathos obviously doesn’t understand a thing about Harry Potter and can leave right now). And what irked me most on Sunday morning was the fact that nobody I knew had read the book – so I couldn’t discuss it in excruciating detail like I was dying to. People just kept calling me to ask who had died – although not really expecting me to play spoiler -- but which I did with much relish.

And then I realised that there wasn’t much to discuss about the book, actually. I mean, there aren’t too many surprises left anymore. I can sort of guess what will happen now. I’m sure it will happen as startlingly and uniquely as everything happens in HP, but what I mean is, most of the really big questions have been answered.

Really, I could be quite cynical about it at one level, and still thoroughly enjoy it in another. I mean, there were some things I could sense coming from a mile away, rather, from the second chapter onwards, but it was still a kick to find out that it was so. I knew there couldn’t be such old-fashioned, unworldly, un-sexed up 16-year-olds in all of England, that Harry and Ron seemed more out of Tom Brown than a school in modern-day England, but somehow I was just glad they were such gentlemen and not vandalising perverts. When a book can suck you into its world like that, I think it’s quite, well, magical.

It’s rather like reading a satisfying Agatha Christie – if you stop to think about it after you’ve finished reading, there are a million highly improbable things you can point towards. But most of the time, you just close the book with a satisfied sigh and don’t want to think about the million improbable things.

There are some books you can’t classify as good or bad, and you don’t even want to decide their merits or lack thereof – you just love them for being there. Well, I’m a bit like that about Harry Potter.

35 Comments:

At July 18, 2005 6:54 PM, Blogger anangbhai said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At July 18, 2005 7:00 PM, Blogger J. Alfred Prufrock said...

So Anangbhai just told us who dies. And I suppose Snape takes over? And Harry (surprise, surprise!) wins YET ANOTHER quidditch match (for Gryfindor, for Ireland, whatever).

And sorry, Ms. Bagchi, not only am I not from J'pur, even if I HAD gone to school there I'd prolly have been closer to your parents' generation.

And Arka is peacEable, not peacable. (Just living up to my supposed pedantry)

J.A.P.

 
At July 18, 2005 9:00 PM, Blogger Jabberwock said...

Hey, in reply to your comment on my blog: no, it's still status quo for me and HP. For close to a year now I've been telling myself I'll buy the first two books and then work my way into the lot (Ajitha tells me it won't take more than 3-4 days to finish the series) but just haven't gotten around to it yet. At any rate it isn't going to be as much fun for me as it was for you guys, because I know most of the spoilers without having read a word!

That didn't stop me from picking up the free copy from Penguin though. This means when I DO get around to reading them I'll have one less book to pay money for. Muha.

 
At July 18, 2005 11:09 PM, Blogger The Marauder's Map said...

Anangbhai: Finally I am having that discussion I so craved. Big yes for Tolkien: the lake scene was just the place I zeroed in on too. Gollum's cave, mines of Moria et al. My knowledge of Star Wars is woefully inadequate, so couldn't quite catch that one.

(heavy spoiler warning)

Did you guess who the real half-blood prince was? I did. As I guessed why Tonks was unhappy. But I love Lupin (one of my total favourites, along with McGonagall, Fred and George and Lee Jordan whose commentary I missed sorely in book 6) and am really happy about him and Tonks. Hopeless romantic, that's me.

What did you think of the romantic bits? I always knew Ginny and Harry would end up together. But it was kind of sweet, if old-fashioned. These kids really are too good to be true, I fear. But then so were Will and Lyra in Pullman's trilogy. Actually Harry and co. are much more realistic than those two.

JAP: Like you didn't know. There were contests in Guardian to write Dumbledore's death in specific author's styles. Very interesting.

And what's the Jampot connection then?

Jabberwock: Please read them, I implore you. But before you start on book 6, please. I'll courier you my copies, if you want. I am less paranoid about such stuff than Samit. Anything to further HP's cause.

 
At July 19, 2005 12:25 PM, Blogger eM said...

I totally get the whole "shall I take it slow or shall I speed read?" But you know, I usually feel GOOD when I finish a Potter book, so many mysteries tied up and all that. But this one was very disappointing. It's like she spend a couple of hours surfing the internet and reading fanfic and then writing the story that would make everyone happy. If this had been the first book I don't think I'd care what happened to him next.

 
At July 20, 2005 7:02 PM, Blogger Dream Debutante said...

I hated the book. And I'm a biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig fan. Those scenes between HP and Ginny, for f**ksake, a monster within him PURRED????? So so upset.
:(

 
At July 21, 2005 1:15 PM, Blogger the still dancer said...

*stupid question alert*
you are based out of Bangalore right?
Assuming you are, pleej mail your preferences for the blog meet.

 
At July 21, 2005 1:22 PM, Blogger Sheetal said...

Oh, you felt like that too! I finished at 6.30 Saturday evening and no one to talk to! Even COS forums were closed for reading :(.

And I know what you mean about not even wanting to look at the books critically - they blow my mind and that's all I care about.

 
At July 21, 2005 1:25 PM, Blogger AB said...

I better read it I guess before it is totally given out on everybody's blogs. Have to, have to buy it.

 
At July 21, 2005 2:01 PM, Blogger The Marauder's Map said...

eM: I still care. Do you think Harry will actually leave Hogwarts?

maiden over: Come on, it wasn't that bad. I found those scenes kind of, ummm, sweet, actually.

Sheetal: Saturday evening?? And it took me till early hours of Sunday morning? Shame on me. Shouldn't have let friends drag me out to lunch I think.

AB: Stop lusting after stupid firang photographer and employ your time better. By reading HP. Borrow Sam's copy if she's not reading it.

 
At July 22, 2005 12:14 AM, Anonymous Blogisite said...

The philosophy bit on speed-reading/slow-reading a Harry Potter book could have made Foucault scratch his head looking for hair. Profound. Deeply. One day we might get to see a blogger hammering away on ways to use Quidditch as a management teambuilding exercise. This leech waits for that day.

 
At July 22, 2005 3:41 PM, Blogger The Marauder's Map said...

O erudite blogisite, reveal thyself in all thy wisdom.

 
At July 23, 2005 2:17 PM, Blogger The Wall Flower said...

Finished potter finally. I am disappointed to say the least. I mean was that a mills n boon or what? Cant believe the book ended when the story began. All this wait for this. I can't get over it. And what a waste of a death... Very disapponted. Given that I actually gave a bad headline to a story just so that I can finish the edition and get back home to read it. Really... never felt so cheated.

 
At July 23, 2005 9:08 PM, Blogger the still dancer said...

ei je. eej next shaturde, i.e. 30th utterly impossibil? in that kesh, it eej 27th, budhbar. and pleej to bhijit okshphord book shtor on mongolbar to watch magniphishient parphormens. ahem. and write nice nice things about it.

 
At July 27, 2005 1:35 PM, Blogger Jabberwock said...

O Erudite Bagchi, have you gone on another long blogging sabbatical now that you've turned 30?

 
At July 28, 2005 12:53 AM, Blogger the still dancer said...

TheBagchi is 30. TheBagchi is 30. TheBagchi is Thirrrrrrrrrrtttttttyyyyyy. *capers around*
*realises airborne missiles are on the way and disappears first*

 
At July 28, 2005 4:39 AM, Blogger Gamesmaster G9 said...

More than Star Wars, I think the ending reeked of Spiderman. Death of father figure? With great power must come great responsibility? And I'm sorry Ginny/MJ, but I can't have a relationship with you otherwise the villain will hurt you to hurt me.

Peter Parker and the Half-Blood Prince, anyone?

 
At July 28, 2005 12:04 PM, Blogger Venks said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At July 28, 2005 12:07 PM, Blogger Venks said...

Hey...just droppin by to chk if u were for real.....
So how long were u guys ...@St. Marks??

So what other than potter do u read??

 
At July 28, 2005 3:08 PM, Blogger The Marauder's Map said...

Am totally overwhelmed. There are now 19 comments on this post. Should stop being greedy for more and stop suffering from delusions of it being last word on Harry Potter (reason for so many comments) and Move On.

But first,

Wallflower: The story will continue in Book 7. This and the last one (OOTP) were the build-up.

Jabberwock: Stop spreading false rumours re: my age on public fora.

Kaashyapeya: See above

Gamemaster: Whatever you say. As i said, you totally rock.

Venky: I think I you mean if I was for unreal since I was quite real at blogger's meet. I mean, that wasn't a clone or computer-generated image or anything :D

These days, I am reading a lot of Just William books. Second childhood, methinks.

 
At July 28, 2005 3:35 PM, Blogger Rimi said...

i am a bit late on this post, but oh man, was there ever a post so after my own heart!!!
i know EXACTLY what you're talking about--around the end of dumbledore's funeral, i was like "god no, shesh hoye jachche!" and i actually went back and reread the rescuing of the horcrux from the cave to make the book last. but i didn't have to worry about not discussing it--people in my department went around shouting spoilers the dau after the book was released. and though i agree with the gamesmaster about the "don't date me, it's better for you than calcium" attitude, i still think ginny and harry were sweet--old world charm.
ah well. horribly long comment, but just HAD to have my say. oh, and i have a pretty shrewd idea who R.A.B is. do you?

 
At July 28, 2005 5:58 PM, Blogger The Marauder's Map said...

rimi: You even have the same blog template! We could be kumbh-mela type twins but for the fact that you are 20 (at least your profile says so) and I am, well, not quite thirty (ignore such allegations in prev comments) yet but getting there, slowly and inexorably.

 
At July 29, 2005 12:30 PM, Blogger anangbhai said...

Dude. I used to read Chandamama, Nandan AND CHAMPAK. Boo-yah!
I always thought Nandan was the best of them all, great stories (I wish I remembered some of them they were so good) and they actually had fables from other countries translated and very good poems and they even had an editorial section.
Champak was more mainstream, the discovery channel to nandan's national geographic channel. Chandamama was in the middle, though I remember reading the Odyssey and tales from the Mahabharata in there.
DAMN it, this is bringing up loads of repressed memories. But seriously, thanks for bringing up chandamama i had forgotten it for sure.

 
At July 29, 2005 1:15 PM, Blogger the still dancer said...

But what's the point in spreading rumours if they're not false? especially on public fora (muahaha)
and as they say in the good ol' mother tongue, that which is fifty-two is fifty-three.
it wasn't a computer generated image, now, was it? was it?
second childhood and mere oblivion may be alright, but that's no excuse to blog. Otherwise, detailed reports of your thirty-fifth (shudder) b'day bash will be posted

 
At July 29, 2005 5:17 PM, Blogger Mandar said...

Bangalore Bloggers' Meet. Details here.

 
At July 29, 2005 11:08 PM, Blogger The Marauder's Map said...

Anangbhai: I used to read ALL of them, too. Also Anandamela (in Bengali), Target and Children's World. If some day they decide to write a book on children's magazines in India, they would seriously need to consult me. I even had an elder cousin who seemed very literary to me at that time who used to verisfy Chandamama stories. Memories, memories!

 
At July 30, 2005 6:30 PM, Blogger The Wall Flower said...

Hey Bagchi, I have a mystery for you to solve. Read my blog and find out soon and tell me. My last hope in the world is you.

 
At July 31, 2005 9:28 AM, Blogger J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Harry Potter used to be GOOD. And now this?

All you Hogwarts wannabes, you really think the same person who wrote Goblets of Fire wrote this trash?

Naaah, Rowling's enjoying her millions and somebody ghost-wrote this. It's a BAD book.

J.A.P.

 
At August 01, 2005 1:06 AM, Blogger Rimi said...

J.A.P, NO! it's isn't a bad book! come on! it's better than order of the phoenix, and yes, it's predictable, but not bad *whine*
somebody help me here!

 
At April 20, 2006 12:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hollywood better make a movie on it soon, i don't have the time/evergy to read so much.

 
At April 20, 2006 12:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hollywood better make a movie on it soon, i don't have the time/evergy to read so much.

 
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