From Hogwarts to Pagmore: Rowling Works Her Magic

The cast of the Harry Potter series reunites to discuss the new J.K. Rowling book, The Casual Vacancy.

Harry: First off, I’d like to say how good it is to see you all again. I know everyone’s busy.

Ron: *coughs* Not really.

Hermione: Well, Harry, unlike you and Ron, I’ve been super busy trying to get photographers out from under my skirt every time I get out of a car.

Ron: You could wear trousers like the rest of us.

Hermione: That’s not the point, Ron!

Professor McGonagall: Hermione, dear, I can’t imagine what you’ve been through. It’s as though the moment you turned 18 you lost all rights to your innocence. If you ever decide to accept a chair at Hogwarts you’ll be able to spend your life in one of these wonderful shapeless black gowns.

Hermion: Thanks, Professor.

McGonagall (whipsering): I haven’t worn knickers in years!

Harry: Right. So, one of the criticisms that’s been leveled at our Creator’s new novel is that it doesn’t have the “magic” of the Harry Potter books. Would anyone like to address that?

Ron: What, people were disappointed there weren’t any spells or flying brooms in a story set in modern-day England? What an appalling letdown it must be for these readers, to walk around their towns every day without being besieged by Dementors.

Hermione: Or it could be that they just didn’t find themselves as swept up in the world of Pagford as they did in the world of Hogwarts. They might not be talking about literal magic.

McGonagall: Or they might just be idiots.

Ron: Or Americans.

McGonagall: Personally, I found myself very engaged with the town of Pagford the way she imagined it, it became absolutely vivid in my mind and I found myself caring quite a lot about the families that lived there and their stories.

Harry: But right off the bat, as a selling point, a novel about a parish council seat becoming vacant doesn’t really sound . . . terribly . . .

McGonagall: Vital?

Harry: Yes, exactly. Parish politics isn’t exactly saving the world from Evil in hand-to-hand combat.

Ron: You’re never going to get over yourself, are you?

Harry: See this scar on my forehead? Got one of those on your giant thick head?

Hermione: Boys, stop it! You’re getting us all off track. I think we should talk about the characters without spoiling any of the plot, if possible. I think Ms. Rowling did an amazing job of getting behind the eyes of so many different types of people. The self-satisfied members of the town’s elite, the Sikh family doctor and her troubled teenage daughter, the girl from the council estates who’d seen the most terrible side of life but who ended up being my favorite character, the way she was so fearless and funny.

McGonagall: And tragic.

Hermione: Yes.

McGonagall: I think Rowling’s teenage characters were wonderful, they were far more fully-realized than you lot.

Ron: Gee, thanks!

Harry: To be fair, they were allowed to text and have Facebook pages to torture each other with. We only had wands.

Hermione: And we weren’t allowed to shag!

McGonagall: Dumbledore wouldn’t hear of it. Personally, I loved how vivid Rowling made the world of Pagford, it was every bit as real to me as Hogwarts. But even more than that I admired the way she teased apart the web of interdependence we all live in. Nothing we do leaves others unaffected.

Ron: That’s enough to keep me from leaving the house ever again.

Harry: You will if they cut off your Internet.

Hermione: Didn’t Jane Austen say that writing about a small village and focusing on three or four families was just the thing for a novelist? I think Jo succeeded brilliantly at doing just that. Ron, what do you think?

Ron: Er, to tell the truth, I haven’t finished reading it yet.

Hermione: Ron!

Ron: I’ve been busy!

Hermione: Well, who’s your favorite character so far, and don’t say Fats . . .

Ron: Fats Walls.

Hermione: I knew it. The teen nihilist, the cool, snarky boy who’s above it all. Well, guess what happens to him in the end?

Ron: Don’t tell me!

Hermione: He gets eaten by a walrus.

Ron: Wait . . . there’s a walrus?

Hermione: A whole herd of walruses.

Harry: And the Professor Snape kills his father.

Ron: Whose father, Fats’ or the walrus?

McGonagall: Oh, for heaven’s sake, Ron, are you going to walk around the rest of your life believing whatever moronic things people tell you?

Ron: I wasn’t planning on it.

Harry: Well. thanks, everybody, I think we all agree that The Casual Vacancy is worth reading. It’s beautifully written, warm, funny, engaging, and full of murderous walruses.

Ron: Do you think I’m too old to play Fats in the movie?

Harry: Yes, but they’re still casting for the walrus.

Ron: God, I hate you.


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