Book review: Symphony for the City of the Dead

If you’re a longtime reader, as in last month, you know that I’m a huge fan of author M. T. Anderson. Whether he’s being serious (Feed) or silly (Pals in Peril series), his writing is solid.  In some kind of synesthesia, I feel as if he provides you with a smooth, hard surface that you can walk across with confidence: there are no soft spots or distracting undergrowth to impede your progress.

When I was writing the review last month for Landscape with Invisible Hand, I popped over to Amazon to snag the URL for the book, and that’s when I noticed he had written another book I had missed: Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad.


I am a huge Shostakovich fan and here was a book about him by one of my favorite authors.  It implied that Anderson is also a fan, which made my heart go pitter-pat.  (Are you, Mr. A.?  If so, text me, bro.) I ordered it immediately.

This book is amazing. I knew the basis of the story: when the Nazi army laid siege to Leningrad in 1941, Shostakovich stayed in his hometown to be part of the war effort and decided to write a symphony that glorified the bravery of the Soviet citizenry. Word got out, and the entire world (at war) waited to hear the results.  When it was finished, the score was microfilmed and rushed to the West in a pretty bizarre sequence of events, where it was performed to general acclaim as part of the war effort.

I didn’t know the half of it.  Anderson has given us a thoroughly researched book that is simultaneously a biography of Shostakovich, a history of the Soviet Union, a political examination of Stalin and Hitler, a telling of the horrific story of the siege, and a musicological look at the Symphony No. 7 while it is being composed.  Like a skilled cinematographer, Anderson leads us from scene to scene, directing our focus in a way that gives us the context to understand both the larger frame of the war and the intimate setting of Shostakovich’s personal life.

Even as I was reading it, my meta-reader’s mind became fascinated with what it must have taken for Anderson to write this book — the staggering amount of research; the pulling-together of all the facts, quotes, context; the balancing of definite facts and the “what-ifs,” of which there are more than a few in the Stalin era.  And what possessed him to write the book in the first place?  These are the things that I will ask him once he texts me and we become BFF.

In the meantime, I have these resources:

Top Elf: a review

Yes, I know that every day before Thanksgiving that you decorate for Christmas an elf dies, and honestly I wasn’t going to read my friend Caleb‘s new book Top Elf until December, but one night I picked it up and then couldn’t stop.

Caleb was an RA at GHP back when I was director, and now he works at Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA, which is owned and operated by another former RA, Janet Geddis.  Both are extremely wonderful people, and so when I read that Caleb had written a book — not only written but published — I was excited for both of them.

So I ordered it and got my autographed copy (thank you for the kind words, Caleb) and tried not to read it until December. Which I failed to do.

Top Elf is a whiz-bang adventure, narrated by Ollie Elf, a youngster who loves loves LOVES Christmas.  He’s also a nervous child, often doubting himself and bursting into emotional tears.  When Santa announces his retirement and a competition to replace him — unnerving his oldest son Klaus — Ollie and his best friend Celia decide they’ll go for it.  We follow them through the familiar tropes of reality-TV competitions as one competitor after another is eliminated.

The book is thick with pop culture references, stupid jokes, and sly allusions.  Most of it would go over a younger reader’s head, but I’m sure there were some references in there that went right under mine as well.  There is a fun twist ending that I’m pleased to say I didn’t see coming, and a satisfying (if After School Special) ending. (Well, how else could you end it? Fight Club?)

I asked Caleb if it had been optioned yet for a movie — if nothing else, it would make a spectacular TV movie or even series — and he just laughed.  But if you’re listening, Hollywood (or Atlanta, at this point)…

Recommended as a Christmas gift for older elementary readers, especially those who like gaming.

Marketing, feh.

M. T. Anderson is one of my favorite authors, young adult or otherwise.  His serious works, like Feed or The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, will radically alter the way you perceive what you thought was established reality. His comic works, like Whales on Stilts and Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware, are gaspingly funny.

Since I’ve been retired from checking out books to kindergarteners for six years now, I’m often behind on when YA authors have written something new.  So it was with Anderson’s Landscape with Invisible Hand, which I ordered as soon as I stumbled across it.

It’s a slim volume, only 149 pages, but it is an incredibly tough read.  Not because it’s densely written, but because of the world depicted in the book.

Quick summary: it’s earth, in the future near enough that we can recognize our society, and the aliens who have been buzzing us since the last century have finally revealed themselves to us, bearing amazing technology which they are perfectly willing to share with us.  Our narrator, teen Adam, is an artist.

Here’s my complaint—and it’s not with the book, which is brilliant.  My complaint is with the marketing department: the inside of the dust jacket gives us a plot summary without giving away the nexus of the story, and then it says this:

“M. T. Anderson, winner of the National Book Award and author of Feed, returns to future Earth in this sharply wrought satire of art and truth in the midst of colonization.”


That’s not what this book is about.

I mean to say, it’s right there in the title, marketing department!

The aliens—called the vuvv—are perfectly willing to share their amazing technology with us,  for a price. They can cure any disease if you can pay them. They can raise food and manufacture goods cheaper and better than any Earth company, which promptly puts Earth companies out of business, with a staggering loss of jobs and income for most of the citizenry.

The rich, of course, are unaffected: they are able to invest in vuvv technologies.  They live in floating homes/apartment complexes that block out the sun below. Their lives go on much as they do now.

The vuvv are not cruel.  They are simply intergalactic capitalists unconcerned about anything but trade.

And that’s what the book is about: unrestrained capitalism, colonization/imperialism, and the impact it has on the powerless.  Anderson’s socioeconomic logic is relentless and inescapable, and Landscape is one of the more frighteningly disconcerting books I’ve ever read.

But I think there’s more here than meets the eye. Here’s my question to M. T. Anderson: there’s more to come, isn’t there?  We’re actually following Adam’s radicalization, aren’t we? That bucolic ending in Asheville was false hope, wasn’t it?  Jebus.

The Fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars

Last Friday I had occasion to visit Peachtree Publishers in Atlanta and meet their president Margaret Quinlin.  She gave me a copy of their newest big publication, Fault Lines in the Constitution: the framers, their fights, and the flaws that affect us today, by Cynthia Levinson and Sanford Levinson.  It is a triumph and this is a rave review.

The book is aimed at the middle reader, but as far as I’m concerned every sentient being in this country[1] should read it and discuss it everywhere.  The authors are thorough, honest, and more than a little skeptical about the solidity of our governing document.  They have reason to be.

A little background: back in 1987, at the bicentennial of the Constitutional Convention, the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society asked the Newnan Community Theatre Company to come up with some kind of presentation/performance for them that addressed this epochal moment in our history.  It fell to me as artistic director at the time to devise the entertainment.

That summer, at GHP, I read the complete The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, compiled and edited by Max Farrand.  Even though the delegates worked in absolute secrecy and the recording secretary burned all deliberations, James Madison kept copious notes (which he edited selectively later in life).  To this document, Farrand added all other diaries/letters/correspondence that he could find, and the result is a fascinating read.  Those men argued over everything: every word, every comma, every idea.

The point is that the Constitution we ended up with was by no means foreordained.  In fact, the eventual performance piece NCTC came up with asked the audience members (seated in groups relative to the size of the thirteen colonies) to decide the nature of the Executive, and both nights they dumped our current arrangement in favor of a single executive elected for a single term of six years.  Expecting a worshipful experience of a perfect document, they were surprised and delighted to be shown there was more to it.

Fault Lines covers this concept of argument and compromise brilliantly.  Each chapter follows the same outline:

  1. Introductory story of some recent foofaraw which illustrates a problem springing from the Constitution as written
  2. “Meanwhile, back in 1787…”, in which the debate over the problem is discussed and the reasons given for the final decision
  3. “So what’s the big problem?”, which details why the compromise has unraveled or caused problems, often because of vagueness in wording or the founders’ astonishing lack of prescience for 200 years in the future
  4. “There are other ways”, outlining how the states and other countries deal with the issue (spoiler alert: there are other ways)
  5. “The story continues” with the authors looping back around to the introductory story and giving us the upshot

The final section is the most agitating, in every sense of the word.  The authors grade the Constitution and how well it has delivered on the promises in the Preamble.  (It gets an overall C+.)  Then the authors, responding to James Madison’s comment that “it is incumbent on their successors to improve and perpetuate it,” list some very uncomfortable ways we might go about doing that:

  1. Change Senate rules (i.e., get rid of the filibuster)
  2. Pass new laws (mostly about the structure of representation)
  3. Develop work-arounds to the Electoral College
  4. Amend the Constitution, with a long laundry list of items derived from the discussions in the rest of the book

Finally, the authors have a one-on-one debate as to the wisdom of going full Leeroy Jenkins with a Constitutional Convention to upset the entire apple cart.  It’s enough to keep you up at night, which at this point in our history is saying something.  (I should say that the book is very current, referencing the current administration and some of its actions.  The section on the 25th Amendment is particularly pointed and reflects some of my own writing, here and here.)

So, teachers, want a resource to celebrate our annual MANDATED CONSTITUTION DAY LESSONS COMRADE[2] on Sep 17?  Requisition a classroom set of this bombshell and watch the children’s minds crack open.  And probably their parents’ heads explode.


[1] I am aware this does not include everyone in this country.

[2] I’m actually in favor of requiring the study of the Constitution, just probably not in the way that the über-patriots who have mandated it intended.

Dear Mr. Dickle, I fixed it for you.

The other day my good friend Pilliard Dickle (no really) showed up in my labyrinth and gave me a copy of his new book, Avocado Avenue.  It is published by Boll Weevil Press, who will also publish Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy in a few short weeks.

It is, like all of Billiard’s work, inventive and twisted and funny and highly entertaining.

However,  I have to say that after reading the first eleven pages I was fully expecting that it would end in cataclysm and flame.  It only made sense, given the subtle buildup of absolute stasis on Sally and Rodney’s front porch.

I was severely disappointed, then, when it failed to live up to my expectations.  It was much the same when George Lucas failed to end Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in an appropriate manner.  Or when Peter Jackson made three Hobbit movies instead two.  Or when Michael Bay made movies.

This time, though, since Dilliard is such a dear friend, I am able to fix it for him.

And now, the exciting conclusion of Avocado Avenue


Sally opened the front door.  It was long past midnight.

“What on earth are you doing out here?” she asked. The old man was standing there, agitatedly staring out into the dark.

“It ain’t right,” the old man muttered.  “It ain’t right.”

“What’s not right?” asked Rodney, who had wakened to find Sally gone from their queen-sized bed.  Rodney had actually wanted a king-sized bed, but their bedroom wasn’t big enough handle a mattress of that width.  It still nagged at him.

Rodney never found out what was not right, because at that moment the old man trotted off the front porch into the night, picking up speed as he ran.

Sally and Rodney stared at each other in shock as they listened to the cries of “It ain’t right” diminishing in the distance.  Rodney fleetingly wondered whether the old man’s bedroom would hold a king before he too ran off into the dark.

“What on earth…?” Sally said, then she too began to run.

The old man was standing in the back yard of Doris and Delores’ house when Sally and Rodney caught up with him.  He was weeping openly.

“Whatever is the matter with you?” Rodney gasped as they ran up.  The old man turned to them.

“This…” he began in a hoarse whisper, but what he said next was overwhelmed by the sound of an explosion behind them.

Sally and Rodney never had time to realize that their house had exploded because Doris and Delores’ house was now similarly engulfed in a roaring fireball.

“Just like in the movies of Michael Bay,” thought Rodney, or at least that’s what he began thinking before thinking was no longer an option for him or for Sally.

“This is for you, Horace!” screamed the old man as he plunged into the conflagration.

Then there was only the night and the flame.

No one ever saw the lone female figure escaping into the darkness.  If they had, they might have wondered why she was nude.

There you go, Gilliard, a proper ending.  You’re welcome.


[1] You should probably read the book first before reading this.

A brief and frightening book

Recently fellow Lichtenbergian Daniel gave me a copy of George Saunders’ The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil.

Do not even read the rest of this.  Go buy a copy now.

It’s only 130 pages long, and the pages are small, but you will not be able to read it in one setting.  It will gut-punch you over and over, with the the beauty of its writing and the horror of its prescience.  You will have to stop to let your soul absorb the shock.

It was published in 2005, but it could easily have been published on Nov 9, 2016.  The rapid and easy rise of the evil, hate-driven megalomaniac Phil gives you a sickening jolt of familiarity, even as Saunders’ loopy and surreal subworld creation leaves your brain  scrambling to reconfigure its comprehension of what it’s seeing.  Trust me, it’s weird and wonderful.

The premise is simple: in the midst of  the country of Outer Horner, there exists the country of Inner Horner, a country so small that only one of its citizens can live in it at a time.  The other six citizens have to huddle in the Short-Term Residency Zone right outside, surrounded by the unfriendly Outer Horner.  Spurred by an unrequited love of Inner Hornerite Carol, the odious Phil jacks up his fellow Outer Hornerians to suspect, tax, and eventually disassemble the hapless minority.

And then Phil’s brain slips out of its rack.

Trust me.  You want to read this.  (There is a website, of course.)

Yippee (not to mention Heigh-ho!)

Look what came in the mail today, you guys!

I haven’t really blogged about M.T. Anderson’s Pals in Peril series, and so now I shall.

M.T. Anderson is a whiz of a young adult author whose range is fearsome: the dystopian classic Feed (you will never ever again think that Google Glass is a good idea); the alternative Revolutionary War history of Octavian Nothing; and on a completely different level, the awesomely silly Pals in Peril books.

It began with Whales on Stilts, and I was hooked.  Anderson took on the world of children’s book series and scored a direct hit. Lily, our heroine, is nothing special (although her dad obliviously works for a semi-cetaceous evil genius), but her friends Jasper Dash and Katie Mulligan lead such exciting lives that they’ve had whole books written about them.

Jasper Dash, Boy Technonaut, seems permanently suspended in 1930s brio.  (Think Tom Swift.)  Katie lives in Horror Hollow and is always having to deal with creepy supernatural goings-on.  (Think R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps.)  All three save the world from whales on stilts (with lasers!) in the first book, and from there it gets really silly.

Anderson is very funny, with the potshots at children’s literature and popular culture embedded so cleverly that most young readers will never see them.  But for adults of a certain age (mentally 9-13, I’m thinking) his wit is devastating.  Here’s a simple descriptive passage of their hometown:

Pelt—where Jasper, Katie, and Lily lived—was not a very exciting place… To pep up business on Main Street, store owners had put mannequins out on the sidewalk, advertising dusty sweaters or pillbox hats, but the mannequins were just assaulted by gulls.

No kid could possibly recognize the reference to Hitchcock’s The Birds, but the discerning adult will already have laughed out loud.

The pinnacle of the series so far is the third, Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware, in which Anderson’s world-creation is so supremely loopy that to this day it is one of the funniest books I have ever read.  It’s as if the absurdist anarchy of Green Acres were translated onto an earnest children’s adventure tale: much to the astonishment of Lily and Katie, every goofy thing that Jasper mentions turns out to be true in spades, up to and including the monks who live in grand seclusion in the mountains of Delaware.

[Our heroes are in Jasper’s Gyroscopic Sky Suite (because of course they are) heading to Dover to begin their trek to the monastery of Vbngoom in the mountains of Delaware.]

“Okay,” said Katie, “I really am only going to say this one time… [list of incorrect things Jasper has been saying about their destination] …and there are no—hear me—no no no mountains in—”

“Behold: Dover.  Capital of Delaware,” said Jasper.

Its domes and minarets lay before them, glowing gold in the sunlight amid the hanging gardens, the pleasant palaces, the spired roofs of ancient temples; in the harbor, the purpe-sailed ships of Wilmington plied the waves, and the dragon-headed prows of the barbarian kingdoms to the south dipped their oars in wrinkled waters while plesiosaurs turned capers at their sides.  The Zeppelin-Lords of frosty Elsmere drifted above the city, their balloons gilded with the tropical sun, eating sherbet on their porphyry verandas.  Huge tortoises fifteen feet across lumbered through the widest avenues, carry nomads’ tents upon their backs.  Processions wandering through the streets glittered with gold and ancient costumery.

Grand silliness, and yet at the end of the book I found my eyes quite moist as Anderson describes the monks of Vbngoom flying joyfully from trampoline to trampoline between the crags of the monastery, celebrating their victory over the robot gangsters.

But here’s a weird thing: I thought I had a copy of Jasper Dash, but I must have given it away—so I ordered a paperback copy, and Anderson has changed the ending.  It no longer includes that passage, with its boom camera pullback and pan up to sky and fade to black.  Instead, the writing fades into a montage of adventure themes before fading to black.  There’s a new appendix with the “state song” of Delaware, plus a copy of the letter the actual governor of Delaware wrote to Anderson, deliciously funny itself.  (Early in the book, Anderson excoriates writers who spend a couple of weeks in a country and then write books about the place as if they truly understand it.  He assures us he’s not that guy; he’s never even been to Delaware, so he’s completely untrustworthy.  However, since Simon & Schuster value accuracy in their books, Anderson instructs anyone who finds an “error” in his geography, etc., to put that in a letter and send it to //page turn// the Office of the Governor, followed by the full address of the Delawarian governor.)

I may have to go find a library copy to see if I’m completely inventing this memory of the ending of the book.

Still, you see why I’m excited about the newest Pals in Peril book.   Something fun without deep meaning to crack open—that’s the ticket!

An odd memory

I don’t know why I thought of this last night, but I was meditating out by the fire in the labyrinth, and for some reason Summer Reading Clubs came to mind.

You  might think that my childhood bedroom was plastered with Summer Reading Club certificates, but you would be wrong.  I rarely earned one.

That is not to say, of course, that I didn’t read in the summer.  Au contraire, I read voraciously, hitting the Carnegie Public Library on the Court Square regularly all summer.  We would even walk or ride our bikes to downtown to get new books.

I read all the time, devouring science fiction series and nonfiction books about science and theatre.  Lots of art books, tons of “how-to” project books.  I even haunted the reference section which had art history books with actual tipped-in illustrations, and even at a young age I was put out that someone (I’m looking at you, Mrs. Wood) had cut out the Rubens nudes with scissors.  Seriously—just rip the entire tipped-in reproduction out if that’s your inclination; why go in and cut around the naked ladies?  (It occurs to me that it might not have been censorship, but porno-vandalism.  Simpler times.1)

So what was the problem?  I dutifully got my little Reading Club flyer at the beginning of each summer, and I dutifully noted which books I had read, often filling up the form.

But I didn’t read the right kinds of books.

That’s right, my sweetlings, our Summer Reading Clubs were severely prescriptive in what you were “encouraged” to read.  You had to do so many nonfiction books, and so many fiction, and of those you had to read certain kinds, and if you didn’t, you didn’t earn the certificate.

As I sat by the fire last night, I just marveled and chortled at how stupid that was—but that’s the way education used to be (AND LARGELY STILL IS) through and through: the Way It Spozed to Be, as it were. (The linked title was published in 1969.  Nothing much has changed.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE??)

Why not provide alternative forms or checklists for different kinds of readers?  Given that boys gravitate towards nonfiction, why not tilt their requirements in that direction?  Why not let girls read nothing but Nancy Drew or Sweet Valley High?  Why not just say, “Hey, kid, read 25 books in these eight weeks, and you’re golden!”?

But no: a well-read young person reads broadly, not necessarily deeply.  Boys like nonfiction?  Girls like romances?  That is a deficiency which we must correct through our Summer Reading Program.  The whole thing was prescriptive: Thou shalt… and Thou shalt not…, with no thought to the inner life of the reader.

Ludicrous bullshit, of course, and I would like to think that summer reading programs are a little better set up here in the 21st century.  However, I don’t want to go find out.  I’m going to pretend that fifty years later, we’re doing it right.


1 Actually, not simpler at all.  If you wanted to gaze upon naked ladies, you had to jump through some serious hoops and cover some serious tracks.  Titian and Rubens might be your best bet to see a booby, and who am I to judge those who managed to excise their very own Sleeping Angelica for their prurient delights?  And God help you if you preferred naked men instead.  These modern times are much simpler, and better, and so say we all.


Here are a couple of books I have read recently and can highly, highly recommend: Autobiography of Red, and Red Doc>, both by Anne Carson.

They are amazing.  They were recommended to me by Daniel Conlan, a hardcore reader, during a discussion of Seven Dreams of Falling and its use of myth. Carson uses the mythical characters of Geryon, a red-winged monster, and Herakles, who kills him as one of his Labors.


In Carson’s story, Geryon is a boy, still red and winged, who struggles through his autobiography to come to terms with who he is, both as a human and as an artist.  Herakles comes into his life as a teenager, a ne’er-do-well, only to part after a brief affair.  Years later Geryon, now a photographer, re-encounters Herakles and his new boyfriend in Buenos Aires.

It is gorgeously, sumptuously written in prose poetry, and your head spins with the imagery and music in the language.  You come to love and pity and admire Geryon while not quite hating Herakles nor his boyfriend.

Somehow Geryon made it to adolescence.


Then he met Herakles and the kingdoms of his life all shifted down a few notches.

They were two superior eels

at the bottom of the tank and they recognized each other like italics.

(Autobiography of Red, p. 39)

And then I ordered Red Doc>, the sequel.  It just came out last year.

From the back of the book:

“Some years ago I wrote a book about a boy named Geryon who was red and had wings and fell in love with Herakles.  Recently I began to wonder what happened to them in later life.  Red Doc> continues their adventures in a very different style and with changed names.

“To live past the end of your myth is a perilous thing.”

Well, that’s an understatement.  If Autobiography was gorgeous, there are no words for Red Doc>.  Hallucinatory, perhaps.  Hallucinogenic, even.



photographs he had them
out the other day spread
all over the floor I said
who cut out the faces. He
said I can’t sleep I can’t
remember what to think
about when I’m sleeping I
said why think just sleep.
He said I found her bloody
eyeglasses in the grass
after nothing else was left
not even.  Not even what I
said. Not even the
stupidfuck white plastic
shopping nothing her
family could. Bury
identify keep turn. One
lens smashed the other.
Why cut I said he said
they needed more shadow.
Okay.     The    other
okay.      The     other

(Red Doc>, p. 94)

The beauty, it burns.  I’m about halfway through Red Doc>, and I’m taking it slowly.  Otherwise I emerge gasping for light with no clear idea of where I’ve been.

How is it possible to create something this beautiful?

Harry Potter

Recently I found myself with some free time but without the willpower to make my brain work, somehow, and so I set about re-reading the Harry Potter series.

First of all, the last book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released in 2007.  Seven years ago.  The first book was released in 1997: seventeen years ago.  Wow.

The good news is that they still hold up.  They’re still terrific reads, still funny and exciting and clever.  Harry is still an annoying twerp and Dumbledore is still my role model.

In fact, I enjoyed them even more this time around because it was fascinating watching the entire plot—not just the plot we thought we were reading—unfold through the seven books.  I remember thinking when we got to the third book (Prisoner of Azkaban) that we were watching something larger happen . Then Jo Rowling said in an interview that she had plotted all seven books ahead of time and that she had seven shoeboxes into which she put index cards of every spell, person, event, object, everything, spreading them across the Potterverse with meticulous care.  I knew we were sunk.

I began to read every book like a mystery: what were the clues she was so blithely throwing in our way?  She always withheld something essential, but there was enough in every book to at least tip you off to the possibility of the ending of that book.  But it meant that you had to read ever so carefully; I began keeping notes on each book, noting “insignificant” details and writing questions that I thought should be answered.  She still fooled me every time.

Except for the big one.  When we got to Half-Blood Prince, I began to suspect that what she was leading us to believe about Severus Snape was not, shall we say, the Truth.  While we waited for Deathly Hallows, I went back and re-read the series again, and one sentence jumped out at me:

“And what the ruddy hell are dementors?” [asked Uncle Vernon]

“They guard the wizard prison, Azkaban,” said Aunt Petunia.1

“How d’you know that?” [Harry] asked her, astonished.

“I heard — that awful boy — telling her about them — years ago,” she said jerkily.

“If you mean my mum and dad, why don’t you use their names?” said Harry loudly…

Indeed, Petunia, why not call “that awful boy” by his name?   This was classic Rowling misdirection, and that meant that Petunia was not referring to James Potter.  It didn’t take a lot of thought to come up with the idea that Severus Snape must have been a part of the Evans family landscape, possibly before Hogwarts even.  Was it possible that Snape was in love with Lily Evans?

If so, that explained nearly everything: his hatred of James Potter and his son; Dumbledore’s continued trust in Snape; the constant references to Harry’s having Lily’s eyes; Snape continually saving Harry even though he hates him.  It all clicked.

And so the big reveal in the last book was not a complete surprise to me.  Since I had been playing Snape in GHP’s annual Hogwarts Night, I was gratified to have it confirmed that Severus was in fact the hero of the series; we Slytherins get so few attaboys…

In sum, the books were not just a fad at the turn of the century.  I think they will stand the test of time and will still be read in another 50 years, just like all of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work.


1 The summer that Half-Blood Prince came out, I was visited at GHP by my son and the two other teens.  Even though they were all of driving age, they willingly sat down to have Story Time.  I read the first two chapters to them, and when Petunia let slip that she knew what dementors were, they literally jumped up and screamed in astonishment and delight.  Fun times.