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Friday, July 20, 2007

No spoilers here

I couldn't call myself a book blogger and not write about one of the biggest book events of the decade: the release of the final Harry Potter book.

I've read with ambivalence the outcry over the early review published in a New York paper. On one hand, I understand the journalistic urge. It really is a coup to be able to publish the first Harry Potter review--something that a newspaper can't do unless it gets an advance copy. For them, it's a triumph.

However, there is really no way to review this book without including spoilers. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a book that doesn't need reviews. People already know it is coming, know its exact release time and know whether or not they want to read it.

What readers can use are critiques--but those won't be useful to readers until after they've already read the book. It is after they read that they're going to be looking to engage in discussion and they're going to want the vocabulary to have a discussion that goes beyond "I really liked it" or "I hated it."

Ultimately, that is the job of a good critic and a good artist. The artist provides the art that engages people. The critic helps people to understand why it engaged them and to help them enter into a deeper connection with the art.

So while it was a journalistic coup, I'm not sure the New York Times paper did themselves any favors by publishing an article that people are going to purposely avoid until after they've had time to read the book themselves.

In the mean time...13 more hours and 10 minutes.

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