Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Wild About Harry
Have you noticed how quiet it’s been lately? There’s a blanket of silence over the world. Everyone is locked inside their house reading the last Harry Potter book. My email volume is down and I can’t remember the last time I had a phone call from someone outside my family. The single greatest challenge I faced this weekend was the arrival of nine overnight guests on Saturday, the day the book was released. Fortunately my guests arrived with their own copies of the book and we all relaxed in the knowledge that we didn’t have to hide in corners to grab a few sentences. We were able to read together, boldly, in the light of day.
I feel part of a great community—a worldwide community of people who were and continue to be doing the same exact thing at the same time. I wonder how long we will travel our separate ways until we’re allowed to show our heads and ask who has finished so we might discuss it. Is a week too long?
Steve’s mother, Nancy, his Aunt Charlotte, sister Debbie and Debbie’s two kids hit the door Saturday morning with Emily and her family close behind. They had four copies between them—one extra for me. I had already run into town for my own copy even though I had a guaranteed release date delivery from Amazon. I couldn’t wait until the mail arrived at 3:30. In fact, I had considered running into town around midnight Friday. Wal-Mart is open 24 hours a day, you know. I particularly liked the way Amazon packaged the book. Written on the package was “Attention Muggles – Do not deliver or open before July 21!”
We don’t get to see Nancy very often so it was easy enough for me to lay the book aside and enjoy a good visit. But the minute she started making a pie with Sarah and the others drifted off with their own interests I picked up the book.
Because of our strong code of ethics none of us reading the book could talk about it while we were reading. There were four of us in my house: Emily, Steve, his sister Debbie and myself. Elizabeth stayed home in Garland but called once in a while to check what page everyone was on. And page numbers became our new language. I read slightly behind the others since I was cooking and cleaning most of the weekend. Steve disappeared a couple of times and we knew he was off reading. So Emily made him take the girls outside to play while she caught up. Emily would occasionally make a startled “erck” sound and I noted which pages she was on. Pages 56 and 475 seemed the most traumatic to her.
By Sunday morning all the company left to go back home. I knew Debbie would be able to read for the whole two-day drive back to Ohio; Em and Steve would send the girls outside to play with neighbors. It was time for me to get serious.
I took out my Exacto knife and performed a little trick I’ve done on large books in the past. First you carefully cut…. Now WAIT a minute. Hear me out. I know my Mother is rolling over in her grave right now and the rest of you are thinking of Nazi Germany and how I’m only one step away from book burning but HEAR ME OUT: I would never do this to a book I wanted to keep, to re-read or refer back to several times. But Harry Potter is a one-read book for me and once I’m finished, I’m through with the book. These books are so widely purchased that there isn’t even a re-sale value. They’re disposable as far as I’m concerned. And we’re talking about a 759 page book here. I’ll bet it weighs a couple of pounds, at least. OK, are you calm? Can I proceed?
First, I cut the hardback away from the spine with a vertical incision on either side where the hard cover is joined to the book. This should separate the cover from the actual pages. Then I divide the book into thirds at chapter divisions. And not any chapter, it has to be a chapter that begins on the right side, not the left. Take a sharp serrated bread knife and close the book over the knife with the cutting edge facing the spine. Slice through the spine at these two divisions. Voila! You end up with a much more manageable lap friendly book in three sections, each the size and weight of a regular paperback. The other advantage to this is that you can have three different people reading the same book. And if you really want to save the book, just put a rubber band around it.
By Sunday afternoon Emily and Elizabeth, without coordinating anything ended up at the same place in the book and couldn’t put it down. They both finished around 11pm Sunday night.
That left me with nobody to talk to. I couldn’t even discuss page numbers. Finally yesterday Beaven went into Dallas for lunch with his buddies and at 2:57 p.m. I finished the book along with a gallon of Blue Bell Chocolate Chip ice cream. All was well.