I started reading the Harry Potter books when I was eight. I started reading fan fiction because I wanted to read more about characters I already knew. Fan fiction is written by amateurs imitating their favourite writers, even if mostly to poor effect. All writers imitate other writers, but only writers of fan fiction preface their stories with warnings: ‘I own not, you sue not’ or ‘If I owned Star Wars, Jar Jar Binks wouldn’t exist.’ (Others write the theft into their titles – ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’.) I read fan fiction online in the nether regions of the web, but once you start looking you find it everywhere: Arthurian legends, fairytale adaptations, a ‘sequel’ by a different author, historical novels, RPF (Real Person Fiction). Geraldine Brooks’s March, a novel which sees the events of Little Women from the perspective of the girls’ father, and which won the Pulitzer Prize? Faaan fiction.
“In the spring, nearly five years after the appearance of the seventh, and final, Harry Potter novel, Little, Brown, Rowling’s publisher, announced ‘The Casual Vacancy,’ and offered a glimpse of the plot: an idyllic English town named Pagford; the death of a man named Barry; a parish-council election. In response, a British publisher announced ‘The Vacant Casualty,’ billed as a parody, if one can parody something whose contents are unknown. Commenters on the Guardian’s Web site guessed at Rowling’s likely models, with reference to Robertson Davies and ‘Desperate Housewives.’ One reader, playing on Rowling’s word for non-wizard society, suggested an alternate title: ‘Mugglemarch.’”
-This week’s New Yorker gives J.K. Rowling the profile treatment.
The easy money for a critic is to rail on about the corporate pablum of the monoculture. But on some level people do want their Potter-inspired tears, it truly means something to them. Hollywood PR flackery is at best only a partial culprit. Most of the people who will arrive at the movie theatre in nervous anticipation this Friday night are not mere automatons of a capitalist machine. Listening to them on the news, in all the endless End Of An Era pieces, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the depth of the longing in their voices. It’s like the memory of something very good is just beyond their reach, and the movie promises, if vaguely, to remind them of it.