The Casual Vacancy and respect
First of all a caveat: I have not read this book yet, though I will as soon as I have it. I have no information except the publisher blurb and don’t want anything more. This is more about how people are being truly ridiculous about the book already.
J.K. Rowling doesn’t need your money. She doesn’t need your love, your praise, your hate – she needs nothing. From anyone. Ever again. For a few lifetimes. She wrote a series of books that I grew to enjoy but that millions upon millions of people cherish so dearly they swoon. And that is incredible. What she did is truly an amazing thing and you can not, at the very least, respect her for it.
And in return she is now incredibly rich. I mean like seriously, mind-bogglingly, rich.
So she wants to write another book. Does she do Harry Potter part “Fuck You I’m Rich”? No. She writes a totally separate book aimed at a different audience. Because she wanted to. She doesn’t have to do anything she doesn’t feel like.
Seriously if she went and smacked every third Harry Potter fan and drove them all away she still wouldn’t hurt for money ever again. So in terms of actual consequence to her being – zero.
And yet she wrote this book – The Casual Vacancy. Because, I’m guessing, the story spoke to her. It was what she wanted to write and so she did. Is it a good book or a bad book – I don’t know yet for myself. Is it a book? Most certainly! Is it Harry Potter – no way!
And yet it does harken to some of the same issues. Here is the pub blurb:
When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…. Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?
A war of localized culture. A small scale society wrapped up in its own detritus so hard that it can’t untangle clean and gets twisted this way and that until in-fighting breaks out and, I’m assuming, threatens their life styles. It’s a war of culture, of class and age. The same issues she dealt with in Harry Potter, really. And that’s awesome! If this is a thing that captures her mind and she’s found a great way to explore it in an adult novel now – how cool!
Many writers have a tic that drives them. I tend to focus on betrayal and friendship myself (it pays to know your tics). The thing of it is – this book isn’t what she did before. So don’t be shocked when it, well, isn’t what she did before. Instead, why not, look at it as something new. Since that’s what it is.
If you adored Harry Potter – give her a chance to be a full-functional writer and human being and explore something new. Celebrate that she is doing something different and give her a fair shake at it!
If you hated Harry Potter – give her a fair shake at writing something different and don’t blow it off as that without seeing it.
I kinda like Harry Potter, but for reasons that I’ve noticed a lot of other people don’t seem to focus on. That’s me. Who cares? I was never in love with it. But someone whose writing can connect with that many kids and adults deserves to, at the least, be listened to and given a chance or three to do as many wild and new and exciting things as she can.
She doesn’t need us in terms of money or anything else. But she has earned us shutting up and judging her book by its own merits and not shoving her in a dark box labeled “Only open for Harry Potter” forever. If she gave you as series of stories you love that damn much then respect her, won’t you? Read the book, don’t read the book – but judge the book, after you’ve read it, for the book not for it not being what you wanted it to be. That’s not a writer’s job. That isn’t any writer’s job.
The only job of a writer is to tell stories and, if possible, by as true to themselves as they can.
Nothing will remove the books you already love from the world. Even if you hate this they will still be there to comfort you. So breathe and give her a fair chance. Why wouldn’t you?