I came to Harry Potter fandom late in the game. I still can’t get through the first book; I’ve tried a dozen times and get stuck on page 20 every single one of them. But after seeing the film version of The Prisoner of Azkaban, I devoured the fourth and fifth books in one weekend, finding them all kinds of silly fun, and then I read a good portion of the fanfiction, too, so I was up for a little Harry fever this week. Mr. Athenae reserved his copy of the book maybe a year ago; the bookstore was having an all-night Potter Party, he asked, I agreed.
Which experience leaves me with a question, devoted Potterfen: Is Harry Potter, in some way, Goth? Because amongst the parade of bad fashion choices tonight (what is WITH that lace tank top thing and can it stop now, please?) were quite a few people in full goth regalia, white makeup and all. Has Anne Rice bequeathed her fans to Ms. Rowling, is that what’s going on? Also, Draco? Nasty racist little shit, I thought, till I overheard girls cooing about him while I hid myself in a corner finishing up “Good in Bed.” “He’s like a Beatle,” one of them earnestly said. Explain this to me.
The bookstore was crowded mostly with the aforementioned lace-tank-topped, ruffle-skirted Hilton imitators and their emo-kid boyfriends, long-suffering moms, and people in various shades of what the guy in front of us in line called “Faire Wear,” corset tops and wizardy-looking cloaks. The guy in line in front of us and his wife, perhaps united with us in the strangeness of being there without a kidlet in tow, participated in a long conversaton about God, Philip K. Dick, the Pope and rabbinical school. He described God as a kaleidescope, shifting with each turn of the wheel. We shook hands when we finally reached the checkout counter.
People cheered when the clock hit midnight and the clerks started ripping open boxes of the books. I don’t care how overblown it’s gotten, people cheering for a book is something, it really is. As we walked home, I pointed out the Potter posters in the windows of the “Christian” bookstore, a place that sells rosaries, those “Success” posters alongside Chicken Soup For the Soul and other neo-spiritual devotional bullshit artistry. At first I was surprised, figuring the store would find such books endorsements of witchcraft or some other silliness. A sign over the store’s entrance read “Scribbelous.”
I guess no one is immune from the spell.