“THE YOUNGER CHARACTERS get up to things that Harry probably never dreamed of: taking drugs, swearing, self-harming, having grimy casual sex, singing along to Rihanna”.
So says The Guardian about JK Rowling’s eagerly awaited first book for adults The Casual Vacancy.
The Guardian also points out that the book contains the phrase “miraculously unguarded vagina”, so obviously the new book was dubbed ‘Harry Potter and the Miraculously Unguarded Vagina”. We like it.
The Guardian’s verdict?
… [it's] no masterpiece, but it’s not bad at all: intelligent, workmanlike and often funny.
“We read it and… we LOVED it” – Time
The reviewer for Time magazine admits that he’s a JK Rowling/Harry Potter ‘fanboy’ but says that the Potter books “have too many adverbs in them, and not enough sex”.
If any of the reviews so far are to be believed, The Casual Vacancy is full of filth (and let’s not forget that singing along to Rihanna) and lots of it. The New York Daily News, which broke the review embargo yesterday said that Rowling had gone from “Potter to potty-mouth”.
Time magazine ultimately concludes that The Casual Vacancy is:
… big, ambitious, brilliant, profane, funny, deeply upsetting and magnificently eloquent.
Tell us how you really feel JK (via Twitter)
“It’s not only disappointing, it’s dull” – New York Times
According to the New York Times the world Rowling creates is “willfully banal” and “depressingly clichéd” with suicide, rape, heroin addiction and “thoughts of patricide percolating its pages”. The review takes a shot at the characters (“much less fully imagined than the ones in the Harry Potter epic”) and the writing:
We are treated to tedious descriptions of the political squabbles….
Fair to say The New York Times reviewer won’t be sneaking off to the jacks for another quick read this afternoon.
“It’s a departure that will shock many fans” - Syndey Morning Herald
The review of The Casual Vacancy in the Sydney Morning Herald opens with some examples of the violence and graphic language that has dominated the chatter about the book so far.
Allison Pearson’s review, like many others, identifies that most of the characters are deeply unlikeable:
… [they] seem to be entered in a previously unknown category at the village fete: Most Gratuitously Unpleasant Human being.
The ending is “howlingly bleak” and book “explodes towards the end, losing shape in its fury at the dirty, unfair England that we Muggles have made for ourselves”.
“Where’s the magic in this tale of middle-class monsters?” – The Daily Mail
Jan Moir’s Daily Mail review pulls no punches, calling The Casual Vacancy “more than 500 pages of relentless socialist manifesto masquerading as literature”.
The Daily Mail is not happy with Rowling’s portrayal of the:
poor underclasses as plucky but blighted, and the British middle class as a lumpen mass of the mad and bad.
Neither is Moir enamoured with the BBC’s Arts Editor “gush[ing] forth in an embarrassing fountain of flattery” upon meeting Rowling, or with The Guardian’s interviewer telling the author how much they loved the The Casual Vacancy.
That’s a thumbs down from The Daily Mail then.
Harry Potter and the All-Ireland winners… here’s what happened with Daniel Radcliffe in Dublin on Sunday night>