9.28.2012

A Casual Review

As promised, I will be doing a little review on JK Rowlings new book A Casual Vacancy.
If you are a Potter Fan, let me tell you now: the wizards never show up. I was crossing my fingers for a cold breeze of Dementors, an unexplained owl, maybe even a passerby in a strange robe. Don't hold your breath, this lot is just a bunch of muggles.

In the first 50 or so pages, you have a pretty good idea of what the main thread of the story is going to cover; in the lovely village of Pagford a man on the town council dies just before an important vote. As the opposing parties are scramble to find someone to fill the spot, ugly secrets bubble to the surface and burst over the unsuspecting citizens. So 50 pages in, your pretty much saying to yourself:
1. How does this go on for 450 more pages?
2. I already deal with enough politics on Facebook.
3. I need an English slang dictionary.

To be honest, I don't think most of you would like this book. I wouldn't recommend it to a stranger. But I am so glad I read it. Once you let go of your preconceived notions of what this book should be, it's beautiful in its tangled simplicity. This is a story about a group of average people. No one is the hero, the admirable characters have vices and the demons have redeeming qualities (except Simon, we can all hate Simon). It's tragic and triumphant and messy and cleansing, a microcosm of the things we hide beneath our perfectly crafted lives. JK lived up to my expectations of intricate character sculpting, and surpassed them with a flawless passing narrative that shows a singular dedication to her craft. This is Rowling material, but if you are looking for Hogwarts Returns, this not the place to find it.

*I should add that JKs dip into adult literature was very adult. (Mom, I promise I closed my eyes through the bad parts.)

Just in case you were wondering, I did create a small key:
ring off = hang up
pet hates = pet peeves
surgery = doctors office
roaches = roll up cigarettes
nibbles = finger food
lezzer = lesbian
redundant = fired
theater = surgery
And "Arf" is an appropriate nickname for "Arthur" because the Brits in Pagford would pronounce it "Arfer."

UPDATE: I just listened to a BBC interview with Rowling where she says she has two more children's books already developed! The tease.

2 comments: