Interesting Miscellany: Three Bits of Stuff on my Desk

Every once in a while I need to clear my desk of these notes I think you might be interested in. Today’s pile includes the story of a man and magician who has made predictions of exactly how Deathly Hallows will end, the thoughts of a favorite L.O.O.N. who is anything but Loony, and a review of Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader on Amazon I hope you can read.

First, the magic man who knows the ending of Deathly Hallows:

I know this man. His daughters were my star Latin students when I lived in Port Townsend, WA, and, as we translated the Latin version of Philosopher’s Stone in class, I have had my share of conversations about the boy wizard with Mr. Pipia. Joey and I even have done talks together about magic and literature at libraries and book stores. My children, all children, adore him because his magic is that good and there are few men as funny and kind as Joey Pipia.

But has he lost his mind?

According to the article in The Port Townsend Leader, Joey has typed out the last paragraph of Deathly Hallows which will be read the evening of 21 July. And, better, well, read for yourself:

It should be no surprise that Joey Pipia of Port Townsend is fond of the series of books that have gone into the Harry Potter series by British author J.K. Rowland. Pipia has been a performing magician since he was 17 years old, and the world of magicians has never had the attention it is getting through Rowland’s popular books.

With the final book of the series expected to be available on July 21 – and not a day before – Pipia is marking the occasion with his own turn of magic right here in Port Townsend.

On Feb. 28, 2007, Pipia posted to the Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader via certified mail a U.S. Postal Service envelope that contains the exact ending paragraph of Rowland’s book. In addition, according to Pipia, the envelope also contains a passage that will, during his public show on July 21, be randomly selected by a member of the audience.

On July 21, the small safe will be removed from the large safe at The Leader. The small safe will go, unopened, to Pipia’s public performance, where it will be opened to reveal the envelope.

Both the book ending and the randomly selected passage will be pulled from the envelope and shown to the public during Pipia’s July 21 evening presentation at his Chameleon Theater at 800 Park Ave. West, Suite 2, in the Port Townsend Business Park. Utterly amazing!

How will Pipia do it? He said he has no idea.

“This is called going out on a limb,” said Pipia last week. “Nobody is doing anything like this.

Pipia, in his cover letter to The Leader, said he’s been thinking about this act of clairvoyance for years.

“I understand that Las Vegas odds-makers are taking wagers on how the series will end,” he wrote. “I present this experiment only to challenge the imagination, and do not intend to profit from it nor will I give unscrupulous individuals that opportunity to do so. Perhaps more importantly, I cannot allow anyone to spoil the ending for the many children (and adults) who eagerly await the series’ conclusion.”

I’ve never been able to figure out how Joey does any of his “tricks” — and I’ve never seen him fail (in several of his Houdini stunts, he’s be dead if he had failed). I’m wishing I could be in Port Townsend the night of the 21st!

Sonorus 2007

If you’ve been cruising MuggleNet the last few days or The Leaky Cauldron, you may have seen the announcements about a Harry Potter One-Night conference this June called Sonorus 2007. If you live near LA — and I mean Los Angeles not Lower Alabama — I hope you can come. Because I’ll be there with Steve Vander Ark to talk about Deathly Hallows, literary alchemy, and why Steve insists on wearing Gryffindor pj’s to bed at least until July.

This promises to be a lot of fun and I’m already looking forward to seeing Janet and Carrie and other LA friends while I’m out there. Register today!

Reflections of a L.O.O.N.

If you ever find yourself or have ever found yourself in the position of being a target for nasty folk on the Internet, I hope you have a friend like Linda McCabe. Linda has not only saved me from embarrassment I deserved more times than any self-important guy wants to admit because she corrected me before I published or posted something stoopid, she has also defended me when I have been attacked and dragged through the mud by those even more self-important than I am. Linda has also shared with me her thoughts about the likelihood of Harry’s end by decapitation or by embracing Voldemort in an echo of King Arthur’s near demise that I never would have seen on my own and which seem two of the more important and credible theories of how the saga closes. Her facility with canon is unequalled in my experience.

Linda is also a lot of fun. Because she lives on the left coast, we only know each other by email, but she never fails to say the right thing to lower my blood pressure and make me snort whatever beverage I’m drinking through my nose when I read her fun notes.

Anyway, Linda has a weBlog called Reflections of a L.O.O.N. that you should check out, if only to read three points she makes about things that bother her about Harry Potter. Here’s a sample:

Barty Crouch, Jr.’s soulless body.

What happened to it? Here we have prima facie evidence that something grossly wrong had occurred. This man had been declared dead and buried at Azkaban prison years ago, and yet his living body is found at Hogwarts after the death of a student in the TriWizard Tournament. What? No investigation? And where did this zombie-like thing go? Is it hooked up to feeding tubes in St. Mungo’s?

The rest are even better.

Super Review

When folks review my books on Amazon, it’s hard not to take it personally. I confess, though I shouldn’t, that I wince when the anonymous nobody writes something silly and vicious on Amazon or about a book I’ve written. Part of it is vanity, part of it is insecurities I’m sure, and too much of it is knowing that until someone else writes a review this nastiness is what book buyers will be reading as they surf the Harry Potter bookstore online — including a lot of big-box book store owners.

Which makes a positive review that much more exciting, especially as Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader begins its way into the broader marketplace. [It still hasn’t made it to Amazon or but an autographed copy can still be purchased for less on the Zossima Press website right now.]

Yesterday, the folks at Zossima called to tell me to go to the Unlocking Amazon page immediately. There was this wonderful review:

***** Five Stars Thorough, Intelligent, and Accessible Unlocking, March 17, 2007
Reviewer: Clio – See all my reviews

Maybe you are a life-long learner sort, or a college professor interested in acquiring an insightful, but thoroughly accessible book about Rowling’s series. Maybe you’re a thoughtful Christian, who suspects the anti-Potter denunciations are not quite on the mark, but you can’t quite articulate why. Maybe you just have a deep affection for the Harry Potter series and would like to discover more about the key techniques and overarching concerns embedded in these brilliant stories. Whatever the case, as long as you’ve actually read the Harry Potter books, and as long as you have the sort of mind that likes to go beneath and beyond the surface, I believe that you will appreciate Granger’s Unlocking Harry Potter. Thoroughly accessible and intelligent, Granger uses a writing style that is a mix of the professor who knows how to communicate credible arguments, and the fan who loves to talk to other fans about Harry, Hagrid, and house-elves (the high destiny of house-elves in number seven? Hmm…).

Because there are a number of books about Harry Potter on the market, let me give you a brief explanation of Granger’s goals, and a brief introduction to the chapters. His first and foremost goal is to argue that Rowling’s Harry Potter series makes for serious, reflective reading, despite its obvious popular appeal. This he does most compellingly, by demonstrating Rowling’s depth of intellect, literacy, and organizational powers. Granger also analyzes several fundamental aspects of both Rowling’s storytelling formula and her underlying worldview (he calls them “keys”). Because of Rowling’s fidelity to her formula and her worldview, predictions can be made about the upcoming Deathly Hallows, which, of course, Granger goes ahead and makes.

Chapter One discusses Rowling’s first key – narrative misdirection. This involves the “voice” of the story. So what, you may ask? Let me tell you, Granger’s explanation of narrative misdirection, how Rowling uses it, and what it means in the big picture, is great stuff – really great stuff. I’m not giving anything away here – you’ll just have to plunk the money down and read it yourself. I think you’ll be glad you spent the cash and the time.

Chapter Two discusses Rowling’s second key – alchemy. Although I first thought this would be the most dreary and esoteric of topics, for me, this was the most eye-opening of the “keys.” This is the key I now refer to the most when speaking to people who dismiss Harry either because of intellectual snobbery or bible-based opposition. In both this book, and his previous book, Looking for God in Harry Potter, Granger gives a great corrective about the meaning of alchemy both in history and in the Potter books. From the insights into Ron’s red hair and Hermione’s chemically-significant initials, to the more systematic explanation of how all the Potter books reflect a deeply spiritual process of personal transformation, Unlocking Harry Potter serves the thoughtful reader very well.

Chapter Three unpacks Rowling’s storytelling formula, the third key, while also showing that her stories are not at all flatly formulaic. The beginning, middle, and end of Harry’s yearly journeys all echo each other, for very significant reasons. It is also here that Granger predicts how, even though Half-Blood Prince seems to depart from the formula, in fact we will discover in the resolution of the seventh novel that the supposed departure is just another example of narrative misdirection (back to key one!)

Chapter Fours and Five speak to Rowling’s position of being “in” the postmodern world (the fourth key) while not being completely “of” the postmodern world (the fifth key). That is, both the things Rowling addresses, and the way she addresses them, speak our language, and thus we resonate with her narratives. On the other hand, as Granger demonstrates, she critiques some of the most destructive and deconstructive and tendencies of postmodernism. Granger points out Rowling’s criticisms of institutions (schools, the government, the press), that supposedly embody what we say are our most important ideals. Perhaps even more significantly, Granger systematically demonstrates that Rowling remains faithful to a fundamentally theistic worldview complete with real evil and real good.

Chapter Six is the chapter of predictions. What will happen in Deathly Hallows? These predictions are nothing like random guesses – if Granger is right about Rowling, then certain things should happen in book number seven. Now, Granger has made predictions before in other books and articles – some of the specific predictions were wrong. However (and this is a big however), details in successive Potter books have shown Granger to be substantially right about the Rowling “forest,” even if he has mistaken some “trees.” So, I’m looking forward even MORE to reading Deathly Hallows, not only to enjoy another Potter novel, but also to see how much of the forest, as well as how many of the trees, the author ultimately did get right.

I highly recommend this book.

You haven’t bought this book yet? Listen to Clio! Go to right now and do what this brilliant person says.


  1. John,

    Thank you so much for your kind words. I have enjoyed our friendship via correspondence as well.

    I am hoping that I might be able to make the trek down to Lancaster in June to see you and Steve speak. I am honored that you feel my “facility with canon is unequaled” since I know you are also in correspondence with Steve Vander Ark.

    I do owe you reviews of your books and have been remiss in that area. Hopefully I will be remedying that oversight soon.

    Linda McCabe, the self-described L.O.O.N.

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