Saturday, August 6, 2011

Magical Heresy

I read the Harry Potter books with the same enthusiasm as did most of the world.  I ordered them from Amazon and received each with that special first wave, none earlier, delivery.  There is no doubt it was a unique literary achievement that will probably never be duplicated and I'm glad to have experienced it.

But.  I just started reading Lev Grossman's The Magicians.

Some years ago there was a spate of body-switching movies (it's a whole genre at this point, I think there's a new one out now that's being panned).  It began with the book Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers in 1972.  That was turned into a movie with a young Jodie Foster and so we began.  Then one day I heard of a movie, Big, that was coming out.  I had a long discussion with my friend, Allen, the fantasy illustrator about it.  Why did we need another stupid movie like this.  It's been done before.  And not well.

Then we saw Big and understood.  This is what thinking things through does for an idea.  An idea may be good, it may be great, but it can't stand on its own.  The writer is there for a reason.  And contrary to the Peter Gallagher character in The Player these things really do not write themselves.

Grossman's The Magicians is the demonstration of that.  Of thought and skill, ability to handle the language, the ability to see into character not just see character.  To read the first page is to know you are in the presence of someone who can write.

Someone will say hey, Potter is for kids and The Magicians is for adults.
And I say So what's your point?

Update:  Interesting, if dated, piece Lev Grossman wrote on Amazon reviews Eaten Alive At Amazon (I rewrote the article title, so ding me down)

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