…or at least another friend.
You know those times you see something so hilarious, incongruous or downright extraordinary that you just have to show someone? When telling someone about it later just doesn’t accurately convey the genuine overflow of excitement and you are met with a, “maybe you had to be there…” sort of look that sucks the fun right out of your story? Once I was in one of those two dollar shops typically run by Asian families and saw some fake dog poo labeled, aptly, “Dog Shit”. It was hanging on a peg amongst various child-friendly gags with child-appropriate names, and I simply had to show someone. The only person around was a total stranger and his girlfriend and so, barely able to contain my laughter, I pointed it out to them. They managed an awkward half-hearted chuckle before hot-footing it to the opposite end of the aisle.
I have since come to discover that mobile telephones come with cameras installed these days (what’ll they think of next?) and occasionally I’m lucky enough to have a bystander close at hand with whom I am already acquainted. On one such instance I was walking down King St with my best bud Ellie and we strolled past Simplicity Funerals. There was a wheelie bin out the front and I casually mentioned that with a name like theirs, you really do seem to get what you pay for. Ellie nearly wet herself laughing as I wondered how many people’s remains were in the bin awaiting the morning collection. I actually had to stop walking and backtrack; she couldn’t walk for laughing. Naturally I started laughing too and we received a few odd looks as we tried to take a photo. I hardly thought we were the strangest loons out that night. It was Newtown, after all.
More recently I was reading a biography on J. K. Rowling that I immediately knew would be a dud. It looked self-published to me, which is rarely a good sign. It wasn’t, but it might as well have been as I’m sure no self-respecting JKR fan would deign to submit it for publishing. First of all was the fact that the blurb included dot points stating what FAQs would be answered within. Incidentally, few were. The “about the author” section spelt his daughter’s name “Rachael” though in the dedications her name was “Rachel”. I strongly suspected that an author who couldn’t decide on the spelling of his daughter’s name may not be the world’s greatest authority on anyone else. Indeed, I was correct. At one point he writes, “Joanne Kathleen Rowling came kicking and screaming into the world…” and fortunately for me, I had a fellow Potterhead on standby to share in my outrage. As just about every fan of the books would know, she doesn’t have a middle name. After being told by her publishers to choose a middle name so she could use the initial as part of a professional pseudonym, she chose her favourite grandma’s name. So she did NOT come kicking and screaming into the world as Joanne Kathleen Rowling and didn’t take on the name until many years later.
Marc Shapiro, the offending author in question, describes how he would not like to meet Voldemort or “the Dementor” on a dark night, as if there is only one. He goes on to say that “banks are run by owls,” which is an obvious and glaring error. Unless post is actually delivered by goblins and I’ve had the wrong end of the stick all this time. The character of Nearly Headless Nick is referred to as “Nick the Nearly Headless Ghost,” which, while not technically incorrect, is a title that never appears in the series. And don't get me started on "Cho Chan", not to mention the description of JLR "living literally inside a fishbowl." I nearly tore the book in half then and there; it only narrowly escaped the recycling bin and instead met my forehead with as much force as I could muster. The only sound was the book FIGURATIVELY echoing for lack of informative content or verified fact. For all the “research” Shapiro supposedly did, there was not a single interview or piece of information passed on to him first hand: it all came from previous interviews and public appearances, many of which I had already read transcripts of myself. I’m not sure I learnt a single thing from this book I didn’t already know. Needless to say, I was disappointed. Hardly surprising given his other published titles include biographies of Justin Bieber, E. L. James (infamous she-devil known for the “Fifty Shades” series), Selena Gomez and Katie Holmes.
Now I hate being interrupted while I’m reading, which I think pretty obvious seeing as I use a cross-stitched bookmark that says “fuck off, I’m reading,” and as such, try my utmost not to impose this annoyance upon others. While my friend Pixie sat across from me, leaving nose prints on her Kobo, she showed few signs of frustration with me as I pointed out the multitude of errors hiding in plain sight. She was annoyed for the same reasons as I and we discussed at length how much better we could have written this book ourselves. There were simply too many mistakes for me to take photos of all of them. And to whom would I send them? Pretty sure Facebook users are bombarded with enough waste-of-space posts and photos of food and I don’t think they’d appreciate an entire album of my JKR-obsessed rants. JKR puns, on the other hand… well, if you’re my friend on Facebook, you’ll already know about that.
In reading another Harry-related book (“Harry Potter and Psychology”) I had a few more “someone has to see this,” moments. One essay spells Ron’s brother’s name “Charley” on several occasions. This book of essays came out before the end of the series, and I genuinely Laugh(ed) Out Loud at some of the predictions. One psychologist predicted that, having recruited the giant population, Voldemort would somehow piss them off and they’d become part of his demise. Readers were even warned of this possible spoiler. Pixie and I had a good laugh then went back to our respective texts.
All in all, I’m becoming rather disenchanted with these publications that stray so far from canon. Perhaps I’ll start writing erotic fan-fiction and become an overnight sensation myself. In the meantime, perhaps it’s best to have a marching band follow me around for those special “you have to see this!” moments. That said, these moments will no doubt be fewer and farther between with a musical entourage in tow. Work friends once gave me a book entitled “How to Improve Your Luck,” however it’s entirely likely I’ll pick the holes out of that one too and my luck won’t improve in any case. I’d like to be more optimistic, but I’m already foolish enough without going to that extent. I’d rather be pleasantly surprised.