|My Take on the Casual Vacancy
Author: thegirlwhoknew PM
It's completely unfair to compare Harry Potter with the Casual Vacancy, I agree. But what is it that makes Harry Potter a joy to read, that could have improved the Casual Vacancy? Hope.Rated: Fiction K - English - Tragedy - Words: 783 - Reviews: 2 - Published: 10-05-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3063208
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Many people must have been surprised that Jo Rowling was straying away from the security of children's fiction in publishing 'The Casual Vacancy'.
The Potters were the quickest selling books in history; unless you count 'Fifty Shades of Grey.' I, personally, do not. Harry Potter will be around for many years to come, it will become a classic. 'Fifty Shades of Grey' is cheap porn that will be comparatively forgotten in 5 minutes. But enough of that. I'm meant to be focusing on 'The Casual Vacancy.'
Judging from the many poor reviews out there, J.K. Rowling's new book has not gotten the positive attention expected by most. I must admit, when reading 'The Casual Vacancy', I was surprised at the first swear word I encountered. After that point, however, the swearing was liberal and often. When the c word was dropped, I felt like - I don't know - like my favourite teacher had started swearing in class.
This, of course, is completely ridiculous. I mean, every author is entitled to write whatever they like. Just because Jo wrote the most highly acclaimed children's series, ever, doesn't mean she has to continue to write kids material. If any other writer had written 'The Casual Vacancy', it wouldn't have received nearly as much media attention. It probably wouldn't have received any media attention at all. Actually, I probably wouldn't have picked it off the bookshelf at the book store if it hadn't the brand of J.K. Rowling upon the cover. The cover isn't even extremely attractive (in my not-so-humble opinion).
The main difference between 'The Casual Vacancy' and the Harry Potters is the quantities of hope. While I was reading the former, every now and then I would pick up a little glimmer of hope. Here's an example; the Weedon family is comprised of a single, heroin-addicted, prostitute mother, Terri, who had four kids. Two of them have been taken away from her and now she only has Krystal, aged 16, just about uneducated, and Robbie, aged 3 and a half. A social worker is at their house, and she finds the house in a state of disarray. Robbie is still in nappies, and underdeveloped for a child of his age. However, the influence of Krystal is there; Robbie's hair smells like shampoo. This is just about as hopeful as the tragic novel gets.
Harry Potter, on the other hand, is full of hope. A boy, whose parents have died, who's mistreated, underfed, turns out to be a wizard, a famous wizard at that. He makes friends, and against all the odds, fights against the evil wizard Voldemort and wins.
Maybe this would have improved 'The Casual Vacancy'. It's fine that all of the seven families featured in the book have their flaws; have big flaws. What could have been nice was a bit of hope, a bit of a chance that things could be better. Just because it's an adult's novel doesn't mean it has to be depressing and hopeless. It is a novel of drugs, rape, revenge, self-harm and inequality. The ending doesn't change this, the ending is worse, if possible.
Also, when I read 'The Casual Vacancy', I struggled to find a single likeable character. That is more hopeless than any unjustness, any horrible situations. Because if people argue that this is reality for some, it's important to write about, they should ask themselves if they know a town that has no likeable people at all. Sure, everyone has their faults. But everyone also has their strong points.
When Jo Rowling finished the Harry series, she felt some kind of loss. She had just finished writing what had transformed her; not only from poor to rich, but as a person. Harry was there for her through times when she was depressed, in a bad emotional state. So, finishing was like Harry dying.
Harry was so many people's hero, and I believe that he was Joanne's hero too. After the Harry Potter series, she would have been in mourning, grieving the loss of her hero, who had pulled her through.
Admitted by J.K. Rowling, the one true hero in 'The Casual Vacancy' was Barry Fairbrother. And what happened to him? He died before the first chapter began. This is similar to the finishing of Harry Potter for Jo; the death of a hero. The whole novel is centred around this death, the death of a hero.
Maybe, subconsciously, 'The Casual Vacancy' is about finishing Harry Potter.
Barry Fairbrother lived on in the hearts of the people who loved him, just as Harry Potter will live on in the hearts of his readers.
And if you don't call that hope, what is it?