Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Boy Who Lived

See, I told you there was no way I'd actually be able to blog everyday, although, to be honest yesterday's absence had more to do with the sudden panic that I wouldn't have anything of interest to say about the first chapter than any pressing business I had to get done. Unless of course you consider watching the "extras" disc of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince pressing.

Anyway, here's the plan as it currently exists in my head. I often find when I'm reading this series that I have thoughts I want to talk to fellow Potterheads about and then I forget them by the time I have the opportunity, so I'm going to have this post open as I read and if and when these thoughts come to me (no pressure brain) I'll share them with you. This of course means, that anything that comes after this sentence is nothing more than free-flowing, unedited ideas, make of it what you will.

The Dursleys think they're normal and if your definition of normal is boring, nosy, and mean, I guess they are. Mr. Dursley heads to work and notices a lot of strange people around, which he does not appreciate. At one point he hears a group of these strange people talking about the Potters and a child name Harry, could they be talking about his in-laws? Surely not. Later that night he hears about more strange goings on on the news.

While the Dursleys sleep that night, a strange man appears on the street. He uses a lighter to put out all the lights on the street and then heads toward number 4. A cat that's been hanging out on the wall by the Dursleys all day, turns into Professor McGonagall, who greets the man as Professor Dumbledore. They have a conversation that doesn't make a whole lot of sense at this point and are soon joined by a huge man on a flying motorcycle caring a baby. There's some more talk that doesn't quite make sense yet, and they leave the baby, with a lightning shaped scar on his forehead, on the Dursley's doorstep along with a note.

I'm a big fan of Mary Grandpre's illustrations, and I always like to take a second to look at the drawing on the cover page, in this case, of Hogwarts. Scholastic's website has all the illustrations in color, which is pretty cool to see.

I always find it jarring when I read that Aunt Petunia is blond. In most cases, I've been able to avoid having the actor from the movie become the character that lives in my head, but Fiona Shaw is so brilliant, that she's completely taken over the character for me.

Rowling's narrative style has noticeably changed since the first book. The last time I reread Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, I noticed on my last reread that this is the only book where we're given a perspective that is not Harry's when Harry is in the scene (it's during Quiddich, we'll get there) and just now I've noticed that Rowling directly references the fact that she is narrating a story: "When Mr. and Mrs. Dursley woke up on the dull, gray Tuesday our story starts..." I don't know why I find that interesting, but I do.

One of the things I miss most in the movies is cloaks and robes. Most of the adults manage to dress reasonably normally. The "robes" the girls wore to the Yuleball in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (I'm going to start shortening the titles now, consider the "Harry Potter and the" part implied.) were dresses, pretty dresses, but definitely not robes.

We get the first hint at Rowling's knack for names with Jim McGuffin, who does exactly what a MacGuffin is supposed to do by forcing the plot to move along (in this case, making it so that Mr. Dursley has to mention the weirdness he's noticed).

Everyone knows that Rowling had a plan from the start and that there's a lot of set up in the earlier novels that pay off later. Even the first chapter is chock full of them: the mystery of just why the Dursleys hate the Potters so much, the Put-Outer, Voldemort's name, Dumbledore's letter to Petunia, Sirius' bike, and of course, the scar. All will come into play in the future in HUGE ways.

And now comes the hard part: ignoring the pull to keep reading, because once I get started with this series, it's hard to stop myself, even for sleep. I'm determined to do it slowly this time though, one chapter at a time.

Think I've said something stupid? Did I bring up something you've never thought of before (not really expecting that to have happened, but a girl can dream)? Please share your thoughts, I'd love for this to turn into a conversation and not stay a monologue.


  1. One inconsistency that bugged me a bit was that Hagrid says in this chapter that he's going to return Sirius's bike, but in PoA he's furious with himself for not realizing why Sirius claimed not to have a need for it any longer. Nothing big, but something that caught my attention the second time around with Sorcerer's Stone.

  2. Now I'm trying to remember that part of PoA...I can definitely remember Hagrid being furious, just not that Sirius said he didn't need it anymore. I'll definitely have to pay attention to that this time around. Thanks for pointing it out Kirsten!

  3. I think it's when they're in the pub, when Harry first hears about the betrayal. Hagrid says something like he should have known something was up, because Sirius loved the bike and wouldn't have parted with it otherwise. Don't have that one on me, but I just read it so it's pretty fresh in my memory :)

  4. I never noticed the name McGuffin! Ha -- Rowling is so clever.

    And because I long ago decided Rowling is a genius, I think Hagrid was going to return the bike because he didn't really believe Sirius didn't want it anymore. ;)

    The illustrations are one of my favorite things throughout the series. I really miss them in the British editions.

  5. Oh! And my favorite part of this chapter is the way that, at first, you don't necessarily know that Petunia and Vernon are mild villains. Since we follow Vernon for a bit, you can sort of feel for him. Then the story progresses and you're on Harry's side all the way. But I like that at first the story is "normal" and maybe Vernon has it right about the strangely-dressed people.

  6. I'd never really thought of that before Lefty. I'm not even sure that I felt that way when I first read it...maybe I just don't think of "normal" as likeable! :)

  7. I hadn't noticed the McGuffin name either. And I am very happy that I found and read the books in English because of the illustrations which are brilliant imho. In the Spanish version of the books there are no illustrations in each chapter but the covers are also very very nice. I admire that you can stop after each chapter bib...I'll continue reading the other posts now.