Fantastic Reading Suggestions for the Harry Reader on Your Shopping List, or Yourself!

Image result for harry potter libraryWhether you are shopping for a family member or friend, or perhaps looking for something to read over a school break or a long flight, thoughtful Harry readers are often seeking a text that will be, on some level, as fulfilling, thought-provoking, or entertaining as the Hogwarts adventures we love. Of course, no book can really be “just like” Harry Potter’s adventures, and we would not want it to be, but, depending on the reader, there are some authors whose work you might want consider as you make your list, and check it twice, even if the person who’s been naughty or nice is yourself! But if you are shopping for your own family’s versions of Newt, Fred and George, or Mr. Weasley, we have the goods after the break… [Read more…]

Cuckoos’s Calling: Success Not from Quality but JKR Fame?

Joanne Rowling published Cuckoo’s Calling under a pseudonym, Robert Galbraith, and also beneath a contrived identity; Galbraith was supposedly a veteran now working in security services. The book was turned down by more than one publisher but was picked up eventually by the same house, different imprint, that published Casual Vacancy. Did they know that Galbraith was Rowling? They deny it.

Ms. Rowling is open about her decption and what motivated her; she wanted to write, be published, and be accepted or rejected outside the Harry Potter critical bubble. I can imagine, if I doubt anyone can really appreciate (as no one living has gone through the crucible of Potter Mania as the author), how liberating and exciting this kind of gamesmanship must have been for her.

There are two or three questions about this approach that are worth exploring, most obviously the ethics of posing as a combat veteran. Today I want to discuss briefly — in hopes of opening the question and hearing what you think — the idea that Cuckoo’s Calling was published under a pseudonym because the author wondered if she would ever really know whether her new books were good or if publishers fell all over themselves to publish her because her fiction has a guaranteed global audience in the millions. Calling, if the Little, Brown imprint did not know Galbraith was Rowling under wraps, seems to have satisfied the first part of that question and the largely favorable reviews the second.

Or does it? Rochelle Deans sent me an article by Duncan J. Watts, J. K. Rowling and the Chamber of Literary Fame, that argues, no, the fact that Rowling’s effort at disguise was published and received kind notices proves nothing. What matters is that the book sold less than 500 copies to actual readers before her cover was blown. Their argument is based on the tests they have put to the theory they call the ‘Cumulative Advantage Hypothesis.’ The experiment went like this:

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