Reading Harry Potter in America

Ron Charles, Literary Critic for the Washington Post, has a problem with Harry Potter:

But all around me, I see adults reading J.K. Rowling’s books to themselves: perfectly intelligent, mature people, poring over “Harry Potter” with nary a child in sight. Waterstone’s, a British book chain, predicts that the seventh and (supposedly) final volume, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” may be read by more adults than children. Rowling’s U.K. publisher has even been releasing “adult editions.” That has an alarmingly illicit sound to it, but don’t worry. They’re the same books dressed up with more sophisticated dust jackets — Cap’n Crunch in a Gucci bag.

Many of those adults who are reading Harry Potter may not have time to read Serious Literature, because they’re too busy trying to figure out how they’re going to pay their overly bloated mortgage, keep their kids in a school that isn’t hamstrung by NCLB, or pay for health care. Perhaps if our American Culture wasn’t so money obsessed and corporatized, adults would have some extra leisure time to read other novels as well. But they don’t and so most of them won’t. But some will. Surprising as it may sound– shocking, even to lit snobs like Charles, some of us Harry Potter fans also read other Serious Literature (though I will be setting aside Against the Day for Deathly Hollows. That’s just how it’s going to play out).

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I’m Sailing Away

Johann Hari boarded the National Review cruise to see what Neocons say when they think no one else is listening:

Some people go on singles cruises. Some go on ballroom dancing cruises. This is the “The Muslims Are Coming” cruise – drinks included. Because everyone thinks it. Everyone knows it. Everyone dreams it.

It’s like a cruise through an alternate reality, where Muslim Hoards are devouring Europe, the founding fathers fought a revolution to escape the tyranny of a king so they could establish a firm and resolute Executive President and we’re not only winning in Iraq but mystically redeeming our loss in Vietnam (due not to the Vietcong but to Liberal Commie appeasement, naturally) and everyone wets themselves in anticipation of bombs falling on Iran. Oh, and a black man thinks the KKK are just upset because they don’t have all the benefits that minorities have.

To my left, I find a middle-aged Floridian with a neat beard. To my right are two elderly New Yorkers who look and sound like late-era Dorothy Parkers, minus the alcohol poisoning. They live on Park Avenue, they explain in precise Northern tones. “You must live near the UN building,” the Floridian says to one of the New York ladies after the entree is served. Yes, she responds, shaking her head wearily. “They should suicide-bomb that place,” he says. They all chuckle gently. How did that happen? How do you go from sweet to suicide-bomb in six seconds?The conversation ebbs back to friendly chit-chat. So, you’re a European, one of the Park Avenue ladies says, before offering witty commentaries on the cities she’s visited. Her companion adds, “I went to Paris, and it was so lovely.” Her face darkens: “But then you think – it’s surrounded by Muslims.” The first lady nods: “They’re out there, and they’re coming.”

Link via at Boing Boing.