A few days ago I came across a bookstore, fed my incessant book greed and bought these two. Then I spent a day wondering whom I’d rather start with from my two favourite writers.
I couldn’t decide which to read first, but I went with J.K.
When I read The Casual Vacancy, I commented that we could never really know an author and their works aren’t everything there is to say about them. No Harry Potter book could have made me think that was coming, and I enjoyed that new way of looking at an author I was so convinced I knew.
The Silkworm has made me realize something about J.K. Rowling and my intense love for all her writing – no, I’m not a Harry Potter fan claiming I like everything she writes just because. It’s how involved she is in all her works. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is probably not a story to her, but a whole world happening inside her head, into which she allows us selective peeks. That would explain the gossipy Rita Skeeter article about the Quidditch World Cup I was told she published recently. The criticism goes: it was too short a glimpse through too unreliable a narrator. I would like to believe Rowling didn’t sit down to write the story for the occasion but that the occasion wrote itself – which is to say that everything that takes place from the fight at Hogwarts to the seventeen years later (and after that) does actually play out in her head, and she chooses when to let us in. I mean, I doubt all the Pottermore stories were created just for the website.
In much the same way, the world of Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm, the life of ex-Army detective Cormoran Strike, is a story inside her head. As must be the life and work of Robert Galbraith. Rethinking over it now, I don’t think the pseudonym was a gimmick – I think a woman who has so many stories playing in her mind, such a vivid imagination, must have loved to write as another person, a man in fact, and enjoyed putting herself in the shoes of a first timer writing their debut book.
And that’s how I end up loving everything Rowling: be it the Harry Potter series, The Casual Vacancy or these newest mysteries, for all our expectations and suggestions – she should have stuck to Harry Potter, it is too gross, dark and full of “language”, I wanted it to be magical, what was she thinking? – I don’t believe she writes for us, she writes because she loves stories. And it is evident in the detail and the effortless switches of genre (though no self-respecting Harry Potter fan would say the books were just that: fantasy.)