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J.K. Rowling Primes Herself for Negative Reviews when The Casual Vacancy Hits Shelves this Thursday


Harry Potter may be over (except for in our hearts. Harry Potter is never over in our hearts), but the literary output of J.K. Rowling isn’t. The Casual Vacancy, Rowling’s first post-Potter novel, comes out this Thursday, and while anticipation for the book is sky-high (understatement of the year), Rowling seemed a bit nervous in a recent interview with The Guardian regarding her new book, the first she’s written for adults.

Quoth the interview:

When I tell her I loved the book, her arms shoot up in celebration. “Oh my God! I’m so happy! That’s so amazing to hear. Thank you so much! You’ve made me incredibly happy. Oh my God!” Anyone listening would take her for a debut author, meeting her first ever fan.

The trepidation makes sense. For the past decade-plus she’s had the literary world eating out of her hand, for the most part insulated from the typical effects of negative reviews (like that of Harold Bloom, who stated that ”In an arbitrarily chosen single page of the first Harry Potter book, I count seven clichés”—shocking!) by the massive popularity, influence, and financial success of her famous series.

While Rowling is (in my opinion) a great storyteller, it’s not because of her way with words, which is not one of her strong suits. And that’s OK. What sucked me into Harry Potter was how intricate and vivid a world she created in Hogwarts; it’s easy not to notice clichés or clunky sentences when you’re so damn absorbed. (I feel the same way about George R.R. Martin: Great at world-building, great at creating characters… not so great with the nuts and bolts of writing.)

The Casual Vacancy is about a small, insulated English village torn apart by a local election, which seems the perfect sort of plot to mesh with Rowling’s set of writerly skills. And yeah, it could be a disappointment; Rowling accepts that as a distinct possibility, noting that “…if everyone says, ‘Well, that’s shockingly bad – back to wizards with you’, then obviously I won’t be throwing a party. But I will live. I will live.” But my hopes, for one, are high.

How ’bout it, Potterites? Will you be reading The Casual Vacancy?

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  • http://twitter.com/Mariegib Marie Gib

    Of course I’m going to read it. She has the art of in writing simple facts with precision and humour in a few words. I am a big fan of Harry Potter books but I think she’s above all a great story-teller :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/trevsheep Teresa Redman

    I expect I’ll read it at some point, even though it doesn’t sound like it’ll be my kind of book. I loved Harry Potter, but I’m not expecting the new book to be anything like it. I’ll be going in with fairly low expectations, and hope to be pleasantly surprised. Trouble is, I expect many Harry Potter fans will start reading it thinking it’ll be just as good as Harry Potter, and then be highly disappointed.

  • http://twitter.com/XandraDust Alexis the Unicorn

    I love Rowling’s style, so of course I’ll be reading it. When I read it I’m going to try to not let my being a Potterhead get in the way of the book in its self. I know its going to be different than Potter, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be good as well.

  • Kifre

    I’m interested in reading it….but not desperately. The set up is just so very, very done in British literature I’ve found it hard to get excited about it. But then, I suppose that magic and childhood and the notion of a chosen one are very, very done in all literature ever, and she’s managed to revitalize those in ways that few authors dare to hope. So let’s see.

  • Anonymous

    I will read it…eventually. Just not that interested in it at the current price-point…maybe get it from the library or wait til it goes down in price.

  • http://twitter.com/mecampbellesq Michael Campbell

    I am totally interested in reading her new book. One of the amazing things about the Potter books was that you could practically see Rowling growing as a writer as the books went on. I’m looking forward to seeing what she can do with more mature fare…

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    How much do you think a new book should cost?

  • Anonymous

    I think they are putting it out as hardback first to trade in on the name-brand…which would be fine if this was going to be another fantasy book of the same type as Harry Potter, even if it was a new fantasy setting. HOWEVER, this is a totally different genre of unproven appeal(as even J.K. seems to appreciate) and maybe it should have been released as a mass market paperback first with the price of a mass market paperback. I only pay hardback prices for books if I know they are going to be worth it to me and I JUST CAN’T WAIT for the eventual paperback release.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chloe.burton.946 Chloe Burton

    I like “the nuts and bolts of writing” too much to want to read it. It’s too hard for me to even get absorbed in the first place, when the language is boring.