All the news they conjured up

There’s sort of an unwritten rule for young journalists.
Worship at the feet of The New York Times.
Even those of us sacrificing the fame and glory (and the money) for jobs in the small town papers drop our voices when we’re talking about “The Times.”
Like Madonna or Elvis, it stands on its own.
In reverential tones, we discuss THE front page, the only front page that really matters.
When someone compliments the Democrat on its old-fashioned broadsheet layout, I chuckle demurely (if that’s possible).
“Well, you know, it works for The Times.”
But build someone a towering pedestal and one day they’re destined to come crashing to the ground.
And Thursday I joined all the Muggles of the world in an echoing “harrumph.”
We journalists all like to be first, but come now… we also like to be best!
And even though I’ve heard the Times’ review of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” was positive and their finagling of the hard-to-find hardback legal, I was cranky.
I wanted to savor my last magical ride from Platform 93⁄4 to the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix and back again.
So it’s not exactly “The Sun Also Rises” or “The Grapes of Wrath.”
That’s exactly the point!

Like that last blueberry of summer or the last Cadbury’s crème egg stored away after Easter, the exploits of one boy wizard and his two best friends have been sweet and exceedingly satisfying dashes back into childhood.
That butterfly-in-your-stomach, watch-at-the-window-for-the-UPS-man feeling is one I haven’t felt since I was 9 or 10, waiting for the Christmas visitor I was sure would be coming with a paper bag full of brand new books just for me.
I devoured books when I was a child, the way some kids race through the levels on the latest video game, thumbs flying over the controller, eyes intent on the screen.
Nowadays stolen moments before bed and the interminable wait at the doctor’s office offer my best chance for solid, uninterrupted reading.
Stories too often enter one half of my brain through my eyes while the other half calculates how much is left in the checking account to cover the mortgage and the car insurance or debates whether it should be meatloaf or hamburgers for dinner.
But not with Harry.
When the Order of the Phoenix arrived in 2003, I smuggled the giant hardcover into work in my bag and dedicated my lunch break to the noble task of getting as far as I could before someone spoiled the secrets at the end.
On maternity leave when the Half-Blood Prince landed on my doorstep in 2005, I gave up my precious naps when Jillian slept, forcing my drooping new-mother eyes to read, read, read.
Harry Potter has been a bit of fun, and The Times and other media outlets treating it as a business tarnishes something imbued with the purity of childhood.
Maybe I’m overreacting.
Maybe I’m just grouchy because my Harry didn’t arrive in time, despite those promises from Amazon.
Or maybe, just maybe, I’m suffering a bit at the feet of my hero.
They got ahold of the book ahead of time, and I didn’t!

Speak Your Mind