“He Strangled it… Up by the Horse” Provides a Breath of Fresh Air: Louise’s First Impressions of Lethal White

I took time I didn’t have to read Lethal White last week, and I’m glad I did. As with the Harry Potter series, Rowling’s Galbraith’s books keep getting longer, but they keep getting harder to put down.

The most surprising thing to me was what a kinder, gentler volume this was–for a murder mystery, that is–with the gruesome factor and body count drastically reduced compared to The Silkworm and Career of Evil. There was a corresponding reduction in both cursing and casual sex. Every time I give a Harry Potter talk, I recommend the Cormoron Strike series, with the caveat that the recommendation is limited to the adults in the audience.  This volume, I would say, could be suitable for mature teens.

Spoilers below the jump.  [Read more…]

Rowling Offers ‘Lethal White’ Play List: Andrea Ross’s ‘White Horses’ For Robin

Go right to the source and ask the horse,

He’ll give you an answer that you endorse.

We here at Hogwartsprofessor have been chomping at the bit for three years waiting for Lethal White, and speculating about the title meaning since we heard it. Beatrice Groves has done a marvelous investigation of all possible white horse connections: from art, to Biblical imagery to poetry to archeology. Not having her knowledge–see my decidedly un-scholarly epigraph, above–I’m going to share something from “Mr. Galbraith’s” recent interview in the New York Times. The reclusive veteran thoughtfully provided a playlist for the novel.

There are eight songs or pieces of music mentioned in the novel that should be on the playlist: “Cutt Off” by Kasabian , “No Woman, No Cry” by Bob Marley , “Wherever You Will Go” by The Calling , Rihanna’s “Where Have you Been,” “ Ni**as In Paris” by Kanye West and Jay-Z and “Oliver Twist” by D’Banj , “Black Trombone” by Serge Gainsbourg and Brahms’s Symphony No. 1, C Minor .

I’d add “So Long Marianne” by Leonard Cohen for Strike and Charlotte, “Heroes,” by David Bowie for the Olympic backdrop and “White Horses” by Andrea Ross , not only for the book’s leitmotif, but for Robin, and a romantic, innocent girl’s idea of adventure and freedom. (emphasis added)

After I got over my delight at seeing the phrase “Olympic backdrop,” I started looking up some of the songs.  When I googled “White Horses lyrics,” I landed not on the Andrea Ross tune, but White Horse, by Taylor Swift.  Check out these prophetic words:

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Super Lethal White Speculation Podcast! Reading, Writing Rowling, Episode 14: Cormoran Strike – and Harry Potter?

Tuesday morning, just after midnight or later in the day when your bookstore opens for business, we’ll all be reading Strike 4, aka Lethal White, the latest Robert Galbraith Cormoran Strike whudunnit. I have the day off from my Muggle job Tuesday and, no, I won’t be answering email or cell phone calls. It’s like a throw back to Midnight Madness parties and the anticipation of a first reading of a Harry Potter novel… and those are happy memories for Rowling fans, right?

I will, of course, be posting on a daily basis here about Lethal White from late on the 18th and the days following for at least a month. Until Tuesday, though, what are we to do?

Marietta College’s History professor and Potter Pundit Katy McDaniel, the host of MuggleNet’s ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling’ podcast anticipated our frustration in the waning moments of the Great Wait and recorded a conversation among three Strike Scholars, Karen Kebarle, Louise Freeman, and myself, about all things Cormoran with special emphasis on what we can expect in Lethal White. It was a ‘wow’ meeting of minds and I recommend it to anyone wishing for an appetizer beyond the excerpt teaser published yesterday in The Guardian.

Dr. McDaniel describes the podcast conversation this way:

J.K. Rowling’s second literary career as Robert Galbraith acts as a commentary on her Harry Potter series and also sets out on a new literary path. With guests Dr. Karen Kebarle and Dr. Louise Freeman, Katy and John examine the connections between the Harry Potter series and the first three Cormoran Strike novels. J.K. Rowling’s artistic signatures appear in the detective novels, in particular via the classical literary allusions that appear in both. Do apparent correspondences reveal more than just that the same mind created both Harry Potter and Cormoran Strike (or the reader’s tendency to see connections everywhere)? An understanding of mythology and ancient literature helps us ponder where the detective series might be headed in the fourth book, due out in mid-September.

Some fans have made the leap from Harry Potter to Cormoran Strike, but others have not. Our conversation explores why this second series has received less popular and scholarly attention, as well as the compelling qualities of the novels – the characters and relationships, plotting, descriptions of modern London, and themes – that have drawn us to them. We also contemplate the larger story arc: Is this essentially a romance between Cormoran and Robin? Does Strike have a “Moriarty” foil who will eventually become important? What will we learn about Cormoran’s father and mother?

Predicting where J.K. Rowling is heading with the series is tricky, but close readings of the previous books, her social media clues, Lethal White’s synopsis, and Rowling’s slow narrative release in the Harry Potter books point us in certain key directions. Do you think we got it right?

If that’s not enough, check out my post ‘Lethal White: What We Can Expect‘ and my most recent speculations about the White Horse idea with which Rowling has been teasing us vis a vis Lethal White in ‘Heroin Dark Lord.’

On Monday I’ll share my Day-Before-Publication ‘List of Ten Things that Have to Happen’ and my ‘Off-The-Wall Prediction List’ of the things I’d love to see in Lethal White. Let me know what you think of the MuggleNet podcast — and stay tuned for an exciting week of Strike posts here at HogwartsProfessor!

The WSJ Op-Ed on Young Adult Fiction that made Rita Skeeter look Impressive

Last June, I had the privilege of being invited to attend and present at the first, and I hope annual, Summit on the Research and Teaching of Young Adult Literature in Las Vegas. I attended many fine
talks from authors, educators and researchers, met Dr. Kia Richmond, who has written a book on mental illness in young adult literature and gave a talk on PTSD in young adult literature, including Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. Perhaps most exciting aspect was the opportunity to speak about PTSD in Laurie Halse Anderson‘s Speak and The Impossible Knife of Memorywith the author herself in the audience. Luckily for me, Ms. Anderson was both gracious with her comments and generous with her support for my work, in addition to being an all-around very cool person.

They say any publicity is good publicity, so I suppose the Summit organizer, Dr. Steven Bickmore, should have been glad to see the event as the subject of a Wall Street Journal editorial. However, the WSJ author, Steven Salerno, chose to devote 723 of 782 words of his column to criticizing the Summit, three of its guest authors and their books, for the crime of depicting a world  “spinning off its axis” with overly dark tales of dystopia, mental illness, racism, and other signs of depravity. Like theHarry Haterswho decried the Potter books as a gateway to the occult without even a cursory reading that would have detected traditional Christian symbolism and pro-social themes, Salerno apparently formulated his opinion without attending the summit or interviewing the attendees he quoted. Instead, he appears to have pulled all of his information from other published summaries. Rita Skeeter, for all her faults, at least made a pretense of speaking to a few Harry’s, Bathilda’s and Pansy’s before misrepresenting their words and  twisting them to fit the scandalous story she had already decided to tell. [Read more…]

Harry Potter and the Commemorative Ornaments

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas here at my house, given that we typically put our tree and other decorations up right after Thanksgiving. And yes, the Boy Who Lived has a place in my holiday decor.

Several years ago, after it was clear that Harry and friends would be a long term part of my personal and professional life, my mom began giving me Hallmark Harry Potter ornaments. Hallmark has been releasing these annually since 2000, and Mom has thus far managed to track down most on Ebay.  Harry-themed ornaments were not something I would ever have thought of getting for myself, but now that I have them, I love putting them up every Christmas.  When it became clear that they would all get lost in the eclectic jumble that is my family’s normal Christmas tree, I got them their own wrought-iron table-top version.  I thought I would devote this post to sharing a few favorites.

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