J.K. Rowling – ‘Depressingly clichéd and wilfully banal’

Posted: September 28, 2012 in Uncategorized
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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2209443/JK-Rowlings-new-book-slated-America-critics.html?openGraphAuthor=%2Fhome%2Fsearch.html%3Fs%3D%26authornamef%3DRob%2BPreece&videoPlayerURL=http%3A%2F%2Fc.brightcove.com%2Fservices%2Fviewer%2Ffederated_f9%3FisVid%3D1%26isUI%3D1%26publisherID%3D1418450360%26playerID%3D72484359001%26domain%3Dembed%26videoId%3D&hasBCVideo=true&BCVideoID=1864465898001

American reviewers slate J.K. Rowling

Author’s first full-length book for five years went on sale today

The Casual Vacancy is Rowling’s first novel aimed at adults

Book attracts mixed reviews on both sides of the Atlantic

But industry experts say first-day sales are best since Dan Brown in 2009

Stores opened early in anticipation of high demand 

She became a multi-millionaire as her fantasy novels chronicling the adventures of a young wizard became the biggest-selling book series in history.

But Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s first foray into the world of adult fiction wasn’t greeted with the same acclaim today, as critics in the US panned her long-awaited novel The Casual Vacancy on the day of its release in Britain.

And although bookshops across the UK opened their doors early in anticipation of high demand, one central London store sold only four copies of the text in its first hour of trading.

Nevertheless, industry figures said the novel – Rowling’s first full-length offering for five years – had enjoyed the best first-day sales of any book for three years.

She became a multi-millionaire as her fantasy novels chronicling the adventures of a young wizard became the biggest-selling book series in history.

But Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s first foray into the world of adult fiction wasn’t greeted with the same acclaim today, as critics in the US panned her long-awaited novel The Casual Vacancy on the day of its release in Britain.

And although bookshops across the UK opened their doors early in anticipation of high demand, one central London store sold only four copies of the text in its first hour of trading.

Nevertheless, industry figures said the novel – Rowling’s first full-length offering for five years – had enjoyed the best first-day sales of any book for three years.

‘We had a lot of shoppers who were loyalists who had gathered together. What was really interesting about them is that they were coming into the stores in groups.

‘A lot of sales are going through our shops and the vast majority of customers are buying The Casual Vacancy. We expect that pattern to continue throughout the day.

‘The figures are looking very good. They are the best first-day figures that we have had since Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol in 2009.’

Readers who bought the book were clearly undeterred by unfavourable reviews on both sides of the Atlantic.

Michiko Kakutani, writing in The New York Times, wrote: ‘Unfortunately, the real-life world she (Rowling) has limned in these pages is so willfully banal, so depressingly clichéd that The Casual Vacancy is not only disappointing — it’s dull.’

LA Times writer David Ulin found the novel’s characters to be ‘two-dimensional’.

In Britain, the Daily Mail’s Jan Moir wrote: ‘Can The Casual Vacancy ever live up to the hype? On balance, I would have to say no.

‘Not unless you want to have more than 500 pages of relentless socialist manifesto, masquerading as literature, crammed down your throat.

‘From start to finish, J.K. Rowling’s main area of conflict is between the selfish middle-class villagers and the noble savages on the poverty-stricken estate.

‘J.K. Rowling likes to describe her new book as a comic tragedy, yet there are few laughs to pierce the blanket of gloom in this bleak, rather one-sided vision of life in modern England.’

Early indications suggest that the book has not proved as popular as the Harry Potter series was at its peak. Worldwide sales of the fantasy books are estimated to be about 450million.

And there was certainly a more muted reception at Foyles bookshop in Charing Cross Road, central London, which opened at 8am but sold only four copies in the first hour of trading.

Miriam Robinson, Foyles’s head of marketing. said that by 4pm today ‘a couple of a hundred’ copies had been sold across its six branches – five in London, one in Bristol.

But she said the company had ordered 1,000 copies and expected to sell every one.

Foyles expects to sell a further 900 copies at a South Bank launch event for the book tonight, which has sold out.

The Evening Standard reported that 150 people were seen queueing outside the Waterstone’s branch in Piccadilly before it opened, but most were there to see pop star Jessie J signing copies of her autobiography.

The Waterstones spokesman said: ‘Nothing much compares with Harry Potter at its peak – that really was exponential.

‘I don’t think we can compare it to The Casual Vacancy and I don’t think we should.

‘The success of the Potter series built up over a decade as people wanted to know what happened to the characters.’

Publisher Little, Brown said it was too early to provide an indication of sales figures for The Casual Vacancy.

A spokesman said that the company hoped to release more information tomorrow.

Rhiane Jones was the first to get her hands on the novel at Foyles in Charing Cross Road.

The 29-year-old, from Wood Green, north London, said: ‘Harry Potter was a large part of the experience of growing up so I was quite curious about what she’d produce.

‘I think her fan base will be curious about a novel that is targeted at them now they’ve grown up. And people who’ve bought into the hype around the book and just want a good story will be interested.

‘She may not be the most stylish user of language but she’s an amazing storyteller. It will be a good read.’

Publishers have gone to extreme lengths to keep details of the novel under wraps before its release.

It has been described as a ‘blackly comic’ tale about an idyllic town ripped apart by an election.

The story is set in Pagford, a dreamy spot with a cobbled market square and ancient abbey, which becomes a town at war with itself.

Published simultaneously in e-book and audio formats, it begins with the unexpected death of Barry Fairweather, whose demise in his early 40s leaves a space on the parish council.

Booksellers took delivery of the novel yesterday and the boxes were unsealed just minutes before shops opened at 8am.

Emma Watson, who played Hermione Granger in movies based on the Harry Potter books, said she hoped readers would be open-minded about Rowling’s change of direction.

‘There’s no way that it isn’t nerve-wracking when you have so much attention on what you do and your choices and everything, but she’s so wonderful and so clever and there’s no way it’s not going to be brilliant

‘I just hope that people are open-minded enough to be supportive,’ she said.

Rowling, 47, has amassed a fortune estimated to be around £620million from her seven Harry Potter books for children and all the spin-off rights.

She said she left ‘the door ajar’ for a return to the world of Harry Potter but there would be no more books about the young wizard.

‘There’s only one reason to write now: for me,’ she told the BBC.

It was ‘murder’ saying goodbye to her most famous character, she added.

‘But truly, where Harry’s story is concerned, I’m done,’ Rowling said. I just think it would be for the sake of milking it and that’s just not in me.

‘Now, having said all of that, I have always left the door ajar because I’m not that cruel. If I had a fabulous idea that came out of that world, because I loved writing it, I would do it.

‘But I’ve got to have a great idea. I don’t want to go mechanically into that world and pick up odds and ends and glue them together and say “Here we go, we can sell this”.

‘It would make a mockery of what those books were to me. They really kept me going through some very rough times… so I just don’t want to betray them in that sense.’

Rowling said she was tempted to rewrite some of the books, as ‘a director’s cut’, because she wrote them too quickly and that the next book she writes would be for slightly younger children than her Harry Potter audience.

Sion Hamilton, general manager at Foyles book shop, in Charing Cross Road, said he expected the novel to be one of the biggest sellers of the year.

‘We are expecting big sales of this book but it’s not necessarily going to be the mad rush we saw with Harry Potter,’ he said.

‘I think she’s going to get new fans and there are a lot of people grew up with the Harry Potter books.

‘I think they’ll be interested to see how she’s developed.

‘The voice that will be in the book, even though it will be aimed at adults, will still be hers.

‘It’s from her pen and I think there’ll be a lot of curiosity about it.’

Dave says –

I’m sorry but if ANY publisher dared to ask me what i was writing next when i had 600 million in the bank I would be a little sarcastic at best ! the fact she wrote anything at all tells me that she loves writing. Her first foray out of her established comfort zone may be a tad like watching someone ‘grow up’ or mature as a writer in public – but I think that is a little unfair when half of the critics bought her entire back catalogue out of their pocket money!!

Cut the lady some slack – we know she can write .

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