Wednesday, July 20, 2011

After Harry

Have you ever been to a wedding where either the bride or the groom was a really good friend, and you were super happy for the couple, and you dressed carefully and danced joyously and cheered and toasted and threw all your love and heart into celebrating their good fortune, even as you knew that after the ceremony and reception they were moving away and you'd probably never see them again?

Well, we saw the Harry Potter movie this afternoon, and now the series is truly over, and that's how it feels. The characters are past-tense now and maybe I'll see them for a couple of hours on late-night cable, which is the equivalent of another friend's wedding or a five-year class reunion, but their narrative and mine have now parted ways, because theirs reached its final conclusion, and I, of course, don't live on pages or on screen and keep living new lines.

I will miss them.

I keep thinking, though, not about this movie, which was excellent except for the parts that weren't, which were all the parts where I yelled at the screen for deviating from the true story, which is to say the book form; nor about Harry per se, nor about Mrs. Weasley nor Neville nor Aberforth, but about the magic of any story that is so enthralling that one falls in love with it.

I did cry, of course, in the darkened theater today, and I cried when Beth died in Little Women and in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn when Francie's mom told her that they didn't need the tin can in the closet for saving pennies anymore, because her father's burial plot meant that they now owned land in America (if you haven't read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn do not speak to me again until you've remedied that oversight) and I've cried for decades because of books, so absorbing are their stories.

Before I changed direction for a career in visual arts (that never materialized due to another direction change, but that's another story) my college goal was to study the American short story. I love the short story form because every word matters; it's story telling simmered down to its essence. I spent years thinking about short stories and writing about them and, I realized today, I never spent any time thinking critically about their complement, the epic. I was drawn to the potency of language in the short story but in the epic, what flourishes instead are layered, nuanced character development and interwoven, architectural plot lines.

That's what I love in Harry, and that's also what I love in blogging.

You didn't think that's where this post was going and I'm not sure I did, either, but I've spent the afternoon thinking about JK Rowling, and the gratitude I feel toward her for her characters, and also the regard I feel for how she could have crafted such an epic. She's said many times that she wrote the final chapter years ago, because she needed to know herself how the story would end, but that she didn't always know how to get it there.

And I don't know where I'm going next, and that's always been a feeling that made me uncomfortable. I love to know what's expected and what's ahead, but I've always loved the short story, the discrete, encapsulated tidy little pill of a story. I've never shown enough appreciation for the unfolding itself of a long and winding road.

Interesting to think about, no? Pin It