Let’s see now, Harry Potter, that’s the one with the witches and stuff. Is that right, or is that Lord of the Rings? No, I think that’s the one with Hobbits and elves and all. Do I have that right, or is it the other way around?
In that statement it goes without saying that I am not a keen follower of tales about stuff that never was nor ever will be. I try and I try and I just can’t muster up any interest in children’s stories that seem to be so universally embraced by not just children – which is a good thing, because anything that encourages the little blighters to read is just dandy – but also other self-respecting and intelligent adults.
What’s wrong with me? I have a decent enough sense of fantasy and imagination, so it’s not just that these are fanciful tales. I think it’s mainly that they involve as story devices things that I, oh somewhere about the time I discovered Mickey Spillane at about the age of 13, left behind. I preferred, I found, tough gumshoes, villains and B-girls with curves that just wouldn’t quit.
I later moved on to more grown-up fare.
One of my exes – the one that was the elementary school teacher – once tried to get me to read The Hobbit, so enraptured was she by that Ring stuff.
I tried. I gave it a good 20-minutes before asking her if it was normal for one’s eyes to glaze over at about the 15-minute mark. She harrumphed out of the room – she did that a lot; often for good reason – and told me I had no sense of fantasy and that the kids loved it.
“Maybe that’s because they’re kids,” I opined, “And I’m not.”
“That’s debatable,” she replied, harrumphing again in her lingering walk out of the room.
And that’s all I know about Lord of the Rings except it has somebody named Frodo in it. Don’t know why I know that.
Harry Potter, on the other hand, made trillions of dollars for its author and all that does for me is make me pathologically envious and renews my hope for the lottery because I know by now I’ll never write anything that will earn me that sort of filthy lucre.
And I know it has kids at some school for witchcraft and has given a latter-day job to a guy who was once a primo Shakespearian, Ian McKellen. Wait, that’s Lord of the Rings. OK, forget about it.
But, speaking of Shakespeare, now there was a guy who could whip up witches I could relate to – the hag triumvirate in Macbeth, with all their eyes of newts and wings of bats. Those witches I got because Shakespeare wrote for big people with aspirations to scholasticism, like I was when I was young and filled with ego-snobbery. As opposed to now. Never mind.
I also liked Witch Hazel in the wonderful Little Lulu comics. She wasn’t scary, just funny. And nobody asked you to believe that she was anything other than a character in a consistently underrated (in terms of wit) comic book.
I have nothing more to say on the topic, other than I always liked the old song Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.