Katharine Kerr July 27th, 2007
What follows is a letter I wrote to a book reviewer in this morning’s San Francisco Chronicle. The review is available online; I have tried to post the URL here several times with no luck. If you want to read it — it’s quite good otherwise — go to sfgate.com, at the top you’ll see SF CHRONICLE in Gothic type. Click on that. Click on Datebook on its masthead. The Harry review should be at the top of the list of contents.
Dear M(s, Mr?) Mcmahon,
I am NOT writing to complain about your posting spoilers, first off.
I was very surprised by your remark that the Potter books have “some of the trappings” of fantasy genre fiction but “transcend genre.” I can only conclude that you don’t know much about modern fantasy fiction, or about British “school stories,” such as the “Boys’ Own Paper” genre. The Potter books are a very clever, very well-done arrangment of motifs, themes, character types, and situations from both genres — to say nothing of their over-arching plot, which is typical, not original.
I’m not saying this to disparage them. They’re well done. But why you’d call them “literature” while sneering at the genre fiction that gave them birth is beyond me. As a writer of fantasy fiction, it bothers me when reviewers make that sort of dismissive statement, especially when they are reviewing a piece that most definitely fits into genre.