Step away from Pottermore, JK Rowling. Your new Harry Potter stories are driving me mad

Why won't she leave her characters alone?

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The Independent Online

The author J.K. Rowling, of The Casual Vacancy fame,  has once again broken a week-long silence on the subject of the fictional magic universe she created several years ago in a series of popular children’s books. Writing on the website Pottermore (don’t ask), Rowling today revealed the inspiration for the villain Dolores Umbridge, and went on to claim that the fictional character is a “half-blood”. In the Potter universe, this is what you call someone with one magic parent and one non-magic. Fans are duly lapping up this scintillating new tidbit. I am not.

Why won’t Rowling - who appears to be a sensible, funny, altogether likable person - leave her characters alone? In 2007, she caused a whopping stir by claiming that Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of the magic school in her books, is gay - despite not having mentioned it in any of the seven books in which he features.

Speaking to an audience at Carnegie Hall, she said: “Dumbledore is gay,” and added that he was smitten with rival Gellert Grindelwald, who he beat in a battle between good and bad wizards long ago. Why is she doing this? She must be perfectly aware that the only way a character of hers can be gay is if she, J. K. Rowling, writes a passage in one of her books in which he either calls himself gay or is seen at some point getting it on with another wizard. Everything else that she says after the books have been published is immaterial.  She can't now 'make' him gay, just by saying it.

I can’t work out if Rowling is merely playing along with her readers, happy to keep feeding the fans these bits of trumped up nonsense, or if she has actually become delusional and believes her characters exist beyond the physical ending of her manuscript. The danger, of course, is that in years to come she goes nuclear on her own universe, terrifying fans by announcing that Hermione has by now become a crack addict living under the Westway, leaving Ron to look after their seven children, or that McGonagall was actually a massive racist. “If you go back and read the books, you’ll see that it makes perfect sense that she was a member of the KKK all along,” Rowling will claim - and who can stop or refute her?

Rowling now reminds me of a character in a story by James Thurber, called ‘The Curb In The Sky’. In the story, Charlie Deshler, a gifted raconteur, finds that his new wife ruins his anecdotes by finishing off his sentences or correcting factual details in his stories. He starts going mad, and to prevent her from correcting his stories, starts telling people about fantastic dreams he has had, figuring that since she wasn’t there she won’t be able to deny that he parked his car on a cloud, and so on. The story ends with Deshler being visited in an insane asylum by a friend, who finds the wife in the midst of correcting one of the made-up anecdotes, saying something to the effect of, “No no, you parked your car on a cloud, remember?”

We, the readers, should do this to Rowling. When she tells us Dumbledore was gay, let us raise our voices to say, “No, he was actually a gender dysmorphic bi-genitalia pansexual!” If she says that Harry went on to become an adventurer, let us say, “That’s quite wrong - he settled down with his second wife in Sheffield. I saw him in my Post Office.” Umbridge was a half-blood? “No she was actually a panther who could body-shift.” Only then will we be able to wrest back control over the line between fact and fiction. This madness must cease.

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