Though i don’t think most of you don’t live under large geological hunks of stone, it bears reminding that JK Rowling recently released her eighth publish volume and first book for adults, The Casual Vacancy. (I’ve been anticipating this release for some time). I finished the book a week ago and, in an action so deviant from my normal behavior of plastering my literary opinions across all social media feeds within keyboard-tapping distance, i’ve kept the book between my teeth. Which, considering the novel’s grisly content and deeply grim characters, is probably the safest place to tuck it away. Where it’s always under threat of being bitten in two, but somehow permeating its savory and sour taste down your throat. Hard to swallow. Impossible not to.
I’ve a fuller review coming to you soon (it first shall be published in this week’s edition of The Mount Holyoke News, so after Thursday i can share it here) but for tonight, i’ll say this: i’m really, really glad to have read this book. Rowling’s mastercraft as a storyteller remains unparalleled: her characters are frighteningly real and her capacity for complexity in narration and plot is phenomenal. But this book left a rotting feeling in my sternum and bones, for the very power with which Rowling can tell a dark, dark story.
But for tonight! Rather than suffering through another presidential candidate debate, i chose to go to a livestreaming event sponsored by the Odyssey Bookshop and Verbosity, MHC’s literary magazine, with my own Padfoot. The event was a conversation between JK Rowling and Ann Patchett about the new book. It was hysterical (Jo Rowling, please be my friend), moving (Jo Rowling, please by my best friend), and a fantastic insight into her writing process and creative genuis (Jo Rowling, please, please, PLEASE be my best friend!).
Plus, there were delectable snitch-painted sugar cookies for sale.
Jo’s insistence on humility without retracting from the work she has done is especially moving for me, as a feminist who works with an organization centered on women claiming their voices for change. She’s unafraid to be human and humorous and weird in front of an audience, but she doesn’t try and write off the effort she has poured into her craft.
To see the love with which she had crafted the characters of Pagford, though, was easily the most moving component of the whole evening. These characters are not, universally, likeable. Most are downright despicable. But her attention to them and their wholeness is what makes her such a wickedly good writer – the woman knows and loves the people she creates. And because of that, i couldn’t put down the book that made my stomach churn and tumble into fretful bubbles of anguish.
current jam: ‘one more night’ maroon 5. judging pants are off!
best thing: the study abroad application was sent off this morning!