In this new feature, I will be posting brief open letters lauding or taking issue with books, characters, authors, publishers, booksellers, or the industry in general. You are not only welcome but encouraged to submit your own contributions in the comments. Keep it civil, refrain from more egregious swearing, and limit yourself to 300 words. I shall abide by the same constraints.
Dear J.K. Rowling,
I was interested to hear you express your regret in not pairing Hermione with Harry rather than Ron. As a writer myself, I understand the constant, fickle desire to revise your own work and cannot imagine it would end when your books have been printed and released into the world. But if we’re going to go back and review the roads not taken, I cannot but wonder if perhaps a Harry/Hermione pairing would have been as ill-advised as you now believe Ron/Hermione to be. To be sure, Harry/Hermione is less disturbing than the reality that Harry, in marrying Ginny, has basically married his mother’s doppelganger, becoming James and Lily Potter 2.0. Still, Harry/Hermione, as with so many relationships in the latter books in your series, seems forced. Admittedly you know your own characters better than we readers could ever hope to, but the impression given by the books as written was that Harry and Hermione, while able to understand and relate to each other arguably better than Ron and Hermione, never had more than a platonic or familial chemistry. Most of all, I question whether Harry or Hermione needs to be paired with anyone at all. Must everyone be matched, married and produce 2.5 children to find contentment and healing after the war? Is such a thing even as universally possible as your epilogue makes it out to be for characters who have been through as much, are as damaged, as Harry Potter?
(And I’m not just saying this because I don’t want to retroactively lose the huge argument I had with my roommate when I studied abroad in college.)
With the books long-concluded, these thoughts are little more than “what-ifs”, but I wouldn’t mind seeing them become part of the discussion.
The Annotated Bibliophile
Dear Barnes & Noble,
I understand that the division of YA fantasy/sci-fi novels into your “Paranormal Romance” and “Sci-Fi/Fantasy Adventure” sections is largely arbitrary. I also understand that with book copy descriptions being what they are, you might not always be able to tell that a novel is in fact fantasy or science fiction, and that you probably lack the time needed to investigate further to be certain you’ve shelved each book in the right section. That said, your shelving system causes me no end of frustrations. I cannot begin to count the number of times I went searching for a fantasy novel and was unable to find it because you’d shelved it in the wrong place. I learned quickly enough to check the “Paranormal Romance” section on the off-chance you’d decided (however wrongly) that the book belonged there, but in what universe do fantasy novels belong in the standard fiction section? Your new system, in which all YA literature is funneled into “Teen Fiction”, “Teen Romance”, and “Teen Adventure” (or whatever you’re calling it now), as if all novels fall into one of those three categories, is even worse. It’s bad enough that you insist on only stocking the over-hyped and “trendy”, and that your selection steadfastly refuses to change from week to week, but now I can’t even find what few books I want that you do stock without spending an hour scanning the entire section title by title. Why must you, one of the only booksellers remaining in town, persist in doing your level best to make book-browsing in person as difficult as it is on Amazon? It is infuriating.
You might want to take a look at that.
The Annotated Bibliophile