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I Don’t Need Your Generational Experience

I want to be convinced that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is as good as the trailers insist it is, and it’s very rare for me to want to be sold on something. But I’m just…not. This implies that Harry and Voldemort have some kind of conversation about their respective moral positions, which I find implausible, and if they have Ron kill the snake rather than Neville, I swear I will set this one out. It seems like over-stretch to declare this the “motion picture event of a generation.” The book was the literary event of a generation. The movies are a way to extend a shadow of that emotion, but not to recreate or exceed it.I believe Harry Potter was a communal event in that it was probably the only pop culture phenomenon folks in my generation will have been eager to experience all at once. There was something nice about seeing everyone reading it on the subway in the days and weeks after Deathly Hallows’ release. But at the same time, it was an intensely personal experience. People were absorbed in their hardcover copies of the book. They could be sitting next to each other and having entirely different reactions to the work. They weren’t looking up from the novel and talking it over step by step, they were just locked in. And I liked that personal element of it. I bought my copy at Kramerbooks and dashed home, brewed a cup of coffee, and finished it three and a half hours later later (I think I’ve mentioned that I read fast). There are sweaty fingerprints born of tension hidden below the dust jacket. I still weep through the Battle of Hogwarts on until the end.If someone understands my feelings for a particular passage of the book, that’s wonderful, and I’m happy to discuss it with them. I really appreciate the kinship I’ve felt with folks in the fandom who interpret the universe in much the same way I do, without collusion, but with much love. But I don’t feel I need that. I will be unified with people my age and just above and just below in loving the Harry Potter novels, but I don’t need us to love them for the same reasons. I don’t need a single, unified generational vision of them. I’m happy to have had a highly personal reading experience along with almost 50 million other people. I don’t need our interpretations to match.

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