Archives for June 2009

Chamber of Secrets: Harry’s Eye-dentity

Today at lunch I was talking with my family about the talks I’ll be giving at Summer School in Forks: A Twilight Symposium (Register today, if you haven’t already!). The first one will be Bella Swan at Hogwarts: The Important Influence of the Potter Novels and Potter Mania on Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga. I’ll be discussing the similarities and differences in how Mrs. Meyer and Rowling use story voice to win reader buy-in and identification, apply Gothic touches for a ‘fallen world’ backdrop, build a school setting, blend genres, foster a ‘shipping controversy, push the pervasive message that choice is the life-defining value, and develop a theme of hidden magic in which supernatural reality is just out of sight.

At lunch, though, what I talked about was eyeballs, because both these authors hang much of their meaning on their use of eyeballs in an exploration of ‘vision.’ [If you want to read about this as it applies to the meaning of Harry Potter, see chapter 5 of my The Deathly Hallows Lectures, ‘The Seeing Eye.’] My children have heard the Deathly Hallows eyeball lecture enough times that they can verbally reel off the five eyeballs in the series finale without straining and they were curious to hear about the Twilight eyes. I made an aside to my eight year old, Zossima, about Harry being a story symbol for spiritual vision, hence his ability to see but not be seen under the Invisibility Cloak. The Z-Man responded, “Just like in the Flying Car in Chamber of Secrets.” [Read more…]

New Dinosaur Dragon: ‘Dracorex Hogwartsia’

I kid you not. It seems the bones of this dinosaur resembled a dragon sufficiently that the scientists involved named it

Dracorex hogwartsia in honor of children’s author J.K. Rowling. “The shape of the dinosaur’s skull, with its long muzzle, bizarre knobs and horns, surprised the scientists,” she said. “But the skull looks strangely familiar to anyone who has studied dragons! Dracorex has a remarkable resemblance to the dragons of ancient China and medieval Europe.”

(H/T Nicole!)

Harry Potter First Edition Auction: $100 G’s?

In case you have some extra cash on hand and you’re looking for a safe investment, Auction Traders wants you to know that there is a Potter auction in Dallas not to be missed: [Read more…]

NY C.S.Lewis Society 40th Anniversary: Be There!

Read all about the 40th Anniversary Weekend Symposium for the New York C.S. Lewis Society! [Read more…]

‘Level 26’ Digi-Novel: The Future of Literature?

I was told by my marketing handler at Penguin/Berkley to visit the Penguin Books Booth when I was on the trade floor at Book Expo America last month. She wanted me to introduce myself to the sales and promotional people there so they had a face with the name in case Harry Potter’s Bookshelf ever takes off. That turned out to be a fool’s errand — the sales people were there to make sales with the gazillion booksellers present, not make face time with wanna-bes — but I did catch a glimpse of what may be the future of popular literature. Or is it just a repackaging of the present?

Penguin/Dutton was promoting heavily via hard displays, advance copies, and video terminals a book titled Level 26, “the first Digi-Novel,” “from the creator of the hit show CSI.” If you go to the web site for the book, you’ll read this description of the “Digi-Novel” experience:

Read, watch, log-in, and inter-act. Level 26 breaks all boundaries of traditional publishing by combining motion picture quality film and an interactive community website with a thriller novel.

I was given a copy of the book, and, frankly, thought little of it. I read the first chapter on the bus ride home, though, and was curious enough to go to the press web site to check out the “motion picture quality film” that serves as a bridge between chapters. You can read the book straight through, it turns out, without checking out the video bridges and still follow the story — but the video segments are incredible. [Read more…]