Sometimes I suspect that everything I loved in childhood was an elaborate prank by adults to lure me into spending the rest of my life buying things I did not want.
“You love “Star Wars” movies? Well, hey, we’re re-releasing them very slowly in 3D.”
“You enjoyed this magical tale of witchcraft, wizardry and plucky bands of friends overcoming adversity using ersatz Latin? Boy, oh boy, do I have a novel for you. For adults. About a municipal election, petty terrible people, and the inevitable disappointments of life.”
How else to explain “The Casual Vacancy”?
We are adults now, officially, I guess. And we read novels for adults. So much for those days when you would glimpse a forbidding-looking biker at a bar with a thick tome, and it would turn out to be “Harry Potter,” without the cover. He was being taken to a dreamworld of magic, and he didn’t care what you had to say.
We are adults now, and we can buy novels for adults, novels that include phrases about discarded condoms “glistening in the grass beside her feet, like the gossamer cocoon of some huge grub.” About racism and sex and cursing and other things that you don’t generally line up at midnight to encounter.
The phrase “J. K. Rowling has a new book coming out” used to mean that my friends would pile into bookstores at midnight dressed as wizards. I am not saying that this did not happen this time, but it was frowned upon. You can try dressing up in keeping with the theme of the new book, but it leads to awkwardness.
“Hey,” I told a sad-looking middle-aged man, standing outside the bookstore. “Decided to dress up for the big unveil, huh? I like your attention to detail.”
He turned away.
Thousands and thousands of people are piling into bookstores or lining up by their e-readers for the big unveil. That, at least, is like old times.
My role on such occasions was to drive past shouting, “Snape kills Dumbledore!” and now, I have to say, I feel a little lost.
Here are some spoilers, for old times’ sake.
●Barry Fairbrother dies, but it turns out that Snape had nothing to do with it.
●The election for his “casual vacancy” unearths a lot of tensions
●A lot of petty and small-minded people are trapped in disappointing lives, and there’s an election.
You know what, never mind. My heart’s not in it.
I feel so grown-up. I don’t like it.