Monday, September 12, 2005

Harry Potter: Great story, bad writing?

No school-in-the-park today (rabbits and ducks most distressed!) but a good discussion over drinks at the end of the first day of the Conferenz Media Relations Conference, where I was speaking today.

Brett from MAF, Angie and Alison from Waikato University, and (oops! didn't get her name) from NZ Post were standing around talking about ... well, all sorts of things!

One thing: Harry Potter. I've got to confess, I haven't read any of the Potter books. Not because I think they're occult and evil (well, I won't know until I read them!) but just because I tend not to read fiction; there's so much non-fiction for me to read.

Anyway, Bret and Alison were saying Potter is over-written. Could do with some severe editing. And kids find it hard to read. Worse so with the later books - maybe JK Rowling is getting careless?

Anyway that's what they said, and I remembered, story isn't the same as writing. Good to get both things down pat.

Then we started telling another story, and here it is without any context, and with a few embellishments I thought up as I drove over the Harbour Bridge:

Benji was a beagle who worked at the airport. His job was to sniff out food, and when he did he got rewarded. But when Benji got too old for working at the airport, he was pensioned off and sent to live with the Howe family.

The Howe family were nice, but they didn't understand him. He would sniff the kids' packed lunches and try to let them know there was food there, but they didn't reward him. What was he doing wrong?

One day, it was all too much for him. Benji decided to end it all. He started swimming out into the ocean. On and on he swam, but he didn't drown.

Instead, Benji reached Australia. Sydney. Circular Quay. Benji climbed up some steps and decided to look around. Maybe there was some food he could point out!

Instead, he discovered a rat the same size as him, a huge beast, with a tweed cap and a waistcoat, smoking a pipe.

They fought and fought outside McDonalds in Circular Quay. At night.

And there they are to this day, fighting.

Interesting story, huh? :)


At September 13, 2005 11:48 AM, Blogger Robyn said...

You really should write fiction Simon, I wanna know what happens next! (Hmm, or was that fiction?)

As for Harry Potter, I read the first three books to my children who were totally absorbed but probably never would have read them by themsleves because yes they are a little over-written (but plenty of books are!) and each book seems to use up more paper. I don't ever expect my particular tweenagers to read fat books!

We saw the movies, we loved the magic and the special effects, we didn't change our spiritual beliefs as a result.

The English colonised us here in Aotearoa by obliterating the Indigenous beliefs. Ironically, they've done the same to their own spiritual belief systems.

So the witches and wizards on broomsticks in Harry Potter may have been based on a legitimate spiritual belief system somewhere back in the mists but they do not resemble that today - they're just good entertainment and escapism for my children now.

At September 13, 2005 9:02 PM, Blogger Simon said...

Kia ora Rob, thanks for the comment! No, I don't think watching or reading Harry Potter would change my beliefs either. I was making a bit of a tongue-in-cheek comment there, after all I haven't read the books yet!

I think the main complaint people had about Harry Potter and the occult was the attitude towards power, spiritual or otherwise. They were saying that Harry has these powers, therefore he can do whatever with them, while in, say, The Lord of the Rings, special power involves special responsibility. Anyway... that's second-hand info, I'm only going to judge when I've read at least one of the books.

I have seen about half of a Harry Potter movie and quite enjoyed it. Good story.


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