Rowling Talks Harry Potter

I meant to post this a couple of weeks ago but I got busy. Rebecca Traister wrote a good article on Salon that discussed the pros and cons of J.K. Rowling continuing to talk about the characters and various subplots of her Harry Potter books even after the last one has been published:

I am a devoted reader and admirer of J.K. Rowling, and it honestly pains me a bit to say this, but from a literary perspective, she's out of control here. Her abundant generosity with information is surely a response to a vast, insatiable fan base that does not have a high tolerance for never-ending suspense, ambiguity or nuance. As she told the "Today" show's Meredith Vieira back in July, "I'm dealing with a level of obsession in some of my fans that will not rest until they know the middle names of Harry's great-great-grandparents."

She's not the first to do this either, explains Traister, since J.R.R. Tolkien did just that for years after he published The Lord of the Rings. At one level, it's downright hard for Rowling to stop telling her story, especially when it's already in her head and, really, there was no real need for her to have ended it where she did (except, of course, for the fact that her most major subplot, well, ended). 

Traister continues:

My brother, an adult reader who has been irritated by Rowling's loquaciousness and was sent over the edge by this latest round of fortune-telling, said to me this weekend, "If she wants to tell us what happens, I wish she would write it in a book, because until she does, then as far as I'm concerned, she's just describing what's showing on the teeny TV screen inside her head, and that's not playing fair."

The problem, of course, is that Rowling has announced that she won't write any more Harry Potter books. Except for an encyclopedia-type book that will catalogue the past, present, and future of her characters in more detail. Sort of like the appendices that Tolkien included with LoTR. In other words, it'll contain all the little tidbits that she is feeding her adoring fans during her US book tour.

What Traister's article boils down to, though, is the question of how much of a story you want to remain untold -- and up to your imagination -- at the end of a book. In this day and age of long-running book series and TV shows than span several seasons, ending your story at what appears to be a relatively arbitrary point -- that is, not when a network executive has canceled it or when you've gone on for eleven seasons and it's time to move on already -- only makes you want more from the author. On the other hand, you really have to stop sometime. In my opinion, then, while I like that Rowling is up for some more storytelling, I do hope she knows when to stop.