Sunday, July 29, 2007

End of story

I started reading Harry Potter books in my first year in Cambridge. The fourth book had been out for a while, and I borrowed the first two books from my neighbour and then signed up at the Cambridge City Library to get out the third one. I've bought the rest of the books pretty much immediately after they've been out, the 6th book on the opening night. And now, the seventh and the last book.

I'm hectically trying to squeeze out one more chapter of my t***** before moving back to Finland next week. I won't be able to submit the whole thing before leaving, but I'm confident it will be done by the end of next month. That's when teaching starts, and I really don't want to be writing up while starting to teach "for real" for the first time...

So basically, it's the worst time ever for the new Potter to come out, as they are totally unputdownable. (That IS a word, I've seen it in The Times). So, I thought I could be smart this time, buy the book but use it as a reward: the faster you do the day's work, the faster you can go home to read Potter. Of course the same thing happened that happens to every piece of chocolate or brownie I get to spur me on. I place it on the side table, and I tell myself that I'll get it once this or that is done. G&B Chocolate, it will be sooo good, better get on with the old writing... And in about 5 minutes I just can't take it anymore, as all I can think of is that damn slab of chocolate, and so I eat it all, just to get my concentration back.

With HP7, I managed pretty well until yesterday, or about half way down the book. Reading it a bit in the morning with coffee, then in the evening... then it just got too much, and yesterday I read until I fell asleep, woke up, tried to stay awake so I could continue reading it, but had to give up. When I woke up in the morning, instead of coming to work I continued reading until I had finished the book at about 3.15 in the afternoon. I had had a meeting at 3, but luckily the person I was meeting understands how these things work and wasn't too cross for me being late. In fact, I could almost blame her for this, as she had said she wouldn't be able to not talk about The Ending so I'd better read it before we meet...

Anyone who has read the previous books will want to know how the story ends. No wonder it was the biggest and fastest selling book, as everyone wanted to read it immediately, as the longer you leave it, the more likely it will be that someone blurts out The Ending, thinking that you must have read it already. So, I won't be saying anything about the plot, but I can say that this is the darkest, and most emotional book yet. I did cry a bit. And as it brings things to a close, it seals the septet of books together. The discussion about which is your favourite HP book can now end. As the whole storyline is there, it is clear that it is the whole seven-episode saga that has the magic, and the individual parts no longer matter. It's almost like some of the spells and potions and charms etc. in the book: when the ingredients or components are separated, they are normal everyday things, but bring them together and something special happens.

All this finishing-business and things coming to an end of course fits well with what's going on with me at the moment. I had already felt depressed as two truly eternal PhD students went and graduated before me: Mike Slackenerny from the PhD Comics, and Brian May of Queen (class of -71, although he hasn't actually submitted yet, he will in a week or so).

At least Harry didn't graduate before I did.

(This wasn't a spoiler, we all know that in the sixth book he decided to drop out of Hogwarts to wage full-time war against You-Know-Who. Just shows that his attitude to education is healthy; learning for life, not for diplomas. Atta boy Harry, well done.)

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