The Christmas Pig: New Rowling Story

A change to the Rowling Twitter header, followed by a joking retweet that was erased (and then reposted), ended this morning with the announcement of the 12 October publication of a new children’s story by J. K. Rowling, The Christmas Pig. From the Rowling.com website page:

The Christmas Pig is a heartwarming, page-turning adventure about one child’s love for his most treasured toy, and how far he will go to find it.  It’s a standalone story, unrelated to any of J.K. Rowling’s previous work, and is suitable for children 8+: a tale for the whole family to fall in love with.

Jack loves his childhood toy, Dur Pig.  DP has always been there for him, through good and bad.  Until one Christmas Eve something terrible happens – DP is lost.  But Christmas Eve is a night for miracles and lost causes, a night when all things can come to life – even toys…  And Jack’s newest toy – the Christmas Pig (DP’s annoying replacement) – has a daring plan:  Together they’ll embark on a magical journey to seek something lost, and to save the best friend Jack has ever known…

The Presence returned to Twitter after five months of silence with a change to her header and a retweet, that according to friends in the UK and Argentina was posted then taken down only to appear again. Here are the new header and that tweet:

Three Quick Notes:

(1) Perhaps the most encouraging news is that the first fifty comments made by twitter followers to Rowling’s return to posting included only two references to the transgender kerfuffle vis a vis Maya Forstater’s appeal this month and both were supportive of Rowling’s position. The ‘Welcome Back!’ and ‘We Missed You!’ memes were the rule without exception. I expect that will change as word spreads about The Christmas Pig but this opening salvo sans nastiness is a very positive change for the better.

(2) I don’t think this means Rowling has returned to regular tweeting, in fact, I would be astonished and very disappointed if it did mean this. That her response to Mhairi W went out, came down, and was reposted suggests some real hesitance to re-enter the social media game. I’m hopeful that this tweet to her more than 14 million followers was the exception made to serve the obvious marketing expectation from her publishers rather than a joyful reentry into the nether world of the Twitterati and the Ideological Twits. I think all of her fans prefer new stories, screenplays, and novels, the fruit of her focus on her vocation as author, to her endless and unedifying engagement with social media trolls and tweeters.

(3) I have been sitting on a post about the confusing comments Rowling has made about the genesis of The Ickabog through the years, from its being her next project in 2007 and all but done a few years later to an item in the attic she dusted off for the Covid lockdown pande-mania. I hope that Nick Jeffery will explain in a Guest Post or in the comment thread below how the announcement of this new story creates a reasonable alternative to my pet theory, based on Rowling’s contradictory statements about a children’s story for close to fifteen years, that The Ickabog publication was only rowled out (sic) last summer as a fire break to all the negative transgender controversy publicity, a necessary sop to public opinion to smooth the way for Troubled Blood’s publication in September.

A new story by year’s end! Hurrah!

 

Stanford Review: JKR Not a Transphobe – And It’s Not a ThoughtCrime to Say So

Maxwell Meyer has written an opinion piece for The Stanford Review, ‘Stanford’s Independent Newspaper,’ under the headline: ‘A Harry Potter-themed Stanford dorm panics over “transphobic, anti-semitic, and racist” J.K. Rowling.’ His Stanford University dormitory, it seems, has a Harry Potter theme with its students being sorted into the famous four Houses at Hogwarts. This year that meant special comment had to be made during orientation to distance this theme from the radioactive opinions of J. K. Rowling. Meyer reports that

student staff read the following statement during our first virtual house meeting:

“We want to acknowledge that J.K. Rowling has made many transphobic, anti-semitic, and racist statements over the past year. Her beliefs do not reflect our values as a house, and we want to make it clear that we do not tolerate comments like hers in this dorm. Our theme… is intended to make this space safe and fun for you this quarter.”

His editorial first makes the straightforward points of showing the absurdity of the claims that Rowling has ever made “transphobic, anti-semitic, and racist statements.” He then puts these claims into the context of the “moral panic” of our times and challenges the Stanford University community to stand up to the know-better bullies on campus who are policing thought and restricting the open exchange of ideas: [Read more…]

Troubled Blood: Talbot’s Thyroid and Rowling’s Occult Artistry and Meaning

Bill Talbot was the first Detective Inspector to handle the Margot Bamborough missing person case. In the last months of 1974 and the first months of 1975, he used occult means, principally astrology and tarot cards but also invocational magic in the end, in order to find the missing general practitioner or to reveal her killer. He believed the Essex Butcher, the name given by Fleet Street to the serial killer later identified as Dennis Creed, was responsible; the point of his otherworldly charts and card spreads as well as his interrogations of suspects consequently was to discover which person in the extensive Line Up he compiled was this madman. Talbot maintained both a police file for the prosaic researches he and his team of Metropolitan police did and a separate ‘True Book’ for his independent occult investigation.

He failed. In fact, he seemed to have lost his mind. Talbot’s son Gregory explains to Strike in Troubled Blood that Mrs Talbot had him “sectioned,” that is “detained under a ‘section’ (paragraph) of the Mental Health Act 1983,” because of his claim that he had successfully invoked the Whore of Babylon and that doctors discovered he was suffering from an “overactive thyroid.” The detective was put on medication for hyperthyroidism which helped him recover his wits and his disdain for the occult but not in time to save his career. He was forcibly retired and spent the rest of his life regretting how he ‘blew’ the Bamborough case.

Here’s the thing. Hyperthyroidism as a rule doesn’t have anything to do with mental health, not to mention causing those so afflicted to enter a “psychotic state.” Why did Talbot’s excess thyroxin result in his discarding pretty much everything he knew about how to investigate a case professionally and pursue occult means instead? [Update: Not True; hyperthyroidism can cause psychosis.]

I’m pretty sure that Rowling-Galbraith, in making her astrology and tarot consumed detective suffer from an “overactive thyroid,” is playing with the occult community’s ‘received opinion’ (via Manly Hall and others) that the pineal gland is the Eye of God and the locus of human contact with the psychic realm. Join me after the jump for the connection in belief if not in endocrine fact between the thyroid, the pituitary and pineal glands, and the netherworlds. Believe it or not, I think the surface disdain for and substantial truth of the occult ‘findings’ of Bill Talbot in Troubled Blood reveal something essential in Rowling’s artistry and her meaning in this series, not to mention the trajectory of Strike’s transformation. [Read more…]

Was 2020 A Bad Year for J. K. Rowling? Nominated for 3 British Book Awards

It is a reasonable conclusion for anyone who follows the news via Twitter and the tabloids that 2020 was a horrible year for J. K. Rowling. She was effectively blacklisted by the cognoscenti for her stand against transgender activist overreach and lost hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers. Harry Potter fandom did its best to demonstrate their group-mind with the Zeitgeist by uniformly condemning her as a “transphobe” and making her ‘She Who Shall Not Be Named’ (or pictured!) at The Leaky Cauldron, MuggleNet, and The Harry Potter Lexicon.

Pretty grim, no?

Yesterday, however, the British Book Awards — known as the ‘Nibbies’ because it used to be the ‘National Book Awards’ and, y’know, ‘nibs’ go with pens, ‘bibs’ with babes — announced their short lists of author-nominees in nine categories for 2020: Audiobooks, Children’s Fiction, Children’s Illustrated and Non-Fiction, Crime and Thriller, Adult Fiction, Fiction (Debut), Non-Fiction (Life-style), Non-Fiction (Narrative), and Pageturner. Rowling in her annus horribilis managed to take in three nominations across these categories. Troubled Blood was nominated for both the ‘Crime and Thriller‘ and the ‘Audiobook’ awards and The Ickabog for ‘Children’s Fiction.’

Rowling is no stranger to the Nibbies, as you’d expect. She was ‘Author of the Year’ in 2000, received two ‘Children’s Fiction’ awards (1998, 1999), one ‘Book of the Year’ (2006), an ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’ in 2007, and most recently a ‘Bestseller Award’ in 2017 for Cursed Child. She was even given a special award last year for Philosopher’s Stone as the Most Important Book of the Last Thirty Years.

She has, in brief, won more ‘Nibbies’ than any other author and the argument could be made that she deserved many more ‘Bestseller Awards’ than she received. I suspect that even today the Harry Potter titles in backlist are outselling even the best selling new releases not written by Rowling-Galbraith.

So how bad was 2020 for Rowling-Galbraith, really?

She lost twitter followers, certainly, and continues to shed them at a rate of a thousand a day — but she hasn’t posted since December and has retained fourteen million followers, the largest author platform and one all but forsaken for prudential reasons, marketing be damned.

Fantastic Beasts despite all the Covid 19 hullaballoo wrapped up filming last week and Cursed Child re-opened in Melbourne. No doubt other theaters will re-open soon around the world in short order.

I suppose being cast out and blacklisted by Harry Potter fandom sites for her heroic stand against the tide of political correctness and in defense of young people being all but forced into irreversible surgeries and ‘transitions’ was a downer. She has written, however, that her inbox has been flooded with e-owls of admiration and gratitude from doctors, health care providers, parents, and transgender people who have been effectively silenced by the online bullies of transgender activism. At least one major publication, too, gave her an award for bravery in writing the truth.

Rowling got her life back by turning away from Twitter, Fantastic Beasts and Cursed Child are on course, and she published two best selling books which were nominated for a record three Nibbies, all against unprecedented and hurricane force gale winds. If this was her worst possible year, a time that any other author would consider a pinnacle of success, she’s doing more than all right.

Congratulations are due to Rowling and her team of helpers for successfully navigating in 2020 the counter currents generated by and the outrage of the Professionally Offended classes. Here’s hoping she wins one or two British Book Awards this year as a rebuke to all the naysayers and nattering nabobs of negativism.

Guest Post: Leda Strike Was a ‘Fixer’ — The Dark Side of the Quicklime Girl

Serious Striker Chris Calderon speculates from the lyrics of the Blue Oyster Cult song ‘Mistress of the Salmon Salt’ and the band’s interpretation of the song that Leda Strike was much, much more than a “super-groupie.” She may have been, if the lyrics tattooed above her pudenda mean what the Cult band members say they mean, a repeated and practiced accessory to murder or “fixer,” a possibility that explains her erratic behaviors as a mother. Enjoy!

The Misadventures of Quicklime Girl: The Curious Absences of Leda Strike

A topic of interest was brought up not too long ago in ‘Leda Strike: Mistress of the Salmon Salt,’ a recent post by John Granger on this site. It all centered around the nature and meaning of the tattoo worn by the mother of Detective Cormoran Strike. Katya Slonenko started it all with a theory that the skin engraving meant that it was pointer to Leda Nancarrow being a cold-blooded killer. That really got a bit of conversation going, and the idea proved enough to spark more than a few theories around the topic.

I had the idea to go and see if Blue Oyster Cult, the band responsible for Leda’s lyric, had anything to say that would shed light on the nature of her choice of personal statement. According to Martin Popoff’s book-length band bio, Agents of Fortune, the group’s fellow Cult members did have one or two insights to offer about their 1973 hit single, Mistress of the Salmon Salt.

Bolle figures the ‘Mistress’ lyric is about, “Love. I guess it’s a groupie song, sex.” “Super dark,” adds Buck. “We were going for a Rolling Stones kind of evil on that one.” Albert (Bouchard, sic) offers a few words on this characteristically weird tune. “Well, that was actually a song I’d written called ‘Checkout Girl’ (laughs) and it wasn’t much of a song. Sandy said ‘I re-wrote the lyrics for ‘Checkout Girl’ and he gave me this ‘Quicklime Girl’. Of course I was like, ‘Okay this we can use, but we’re going to have to make it more scary (laughs). These lyrics are really bizarre, you know, the famous story of the person that kills people, or actually I don’t think she kills people, but she performs a service. She would bury the murdered dead, and use them as fertilizer for her plants” (40-41). Join me after the jump to see if we can unpack the meaning of this statement, and what it might tell us about the curious past of Leda Strike. [Read more…]