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John Eby: Nothing compares with Harry Potter since Beatles

Published 9:50pm Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Harry Potter always struck me as the biggest thing since the Beatles.

ebyThere likely will never be another band like the Fab Four, but seven books about a boy wizard will endure.

Unless you ask literary critic Harold Bloom, who said in 2002: “I loathe Harry Potter. Those books are hopeless and massively cliched – bad thinking and bad writing. And they will vanish. In spite of all the hype and all the 120 million copies, they’re bound for the rubbish heap in five, six years.”

Makes me wonder what ever became of thatNewsweek critic who panned Sgt. Pepper.

J.K. Rowling was born July 31, 1965. Harry came along on her birthday in 1980.

Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry in the eight movies, looked so much like Jordan when they were boys it was eerie, just as it was unsettling how much Harry resembled John Lennon on one of the jackets.

He was also born in July, on the 23rd in 1989.

Wish I had one of the 500 copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone published in England on June 30, 1997, 24 days after Logan was born.

I started reading them out of curiosity after Time magazine conjured a cover story from Pottermania.

RIght after Christmas in 1998 Harry made his first appearance on the New York Times bestseller list: “A Scottish boy, neglected by his relatives, finds his fortune attending a school of witchcraft.”

By July 2000, the Times would create a children’s bestseller list after Rowling’s first three books choked off all competition, reminiscent of when the Beatles owned Billboard’s top five spots.

With Potter banished to the kids’ ghetto, Danielle Steele could reclaim her proper place atop the literary universe.

I’ve never read “The House on Hope Street” or any of the others, but I’ve devoured all seven Potters.

We went to absurd lengths in July 2007 to obtain Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows not seen by me since I slept on a Detroit street to obtain tickets the first time I saw Paul McCartney.

It moved a mere 8.3 million copies its first 24 hours on sale.

When they surpassed 400 million volumes in 2008, Harry trailed only the Bible and Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book.

That same year, IBM introduced software that scans, sorts and stores personal memories, named Pensieve in tribute to gay headmaster Albus Dumbledore.

Still, that pales  in comparison to publisher Bloomsbury spending almost $20 million on guards, satellite tracking systems and legal contracts to plug leaks.

Still, 14 copies of Half-Blood Prince sell early in Vancouver, taking a court order to keep buyers from disclosing any content.

Even a Russian knockoff Rowling sued in 2002 sold more than 3 million copies.

Like the Beatles, Rowling created a whole parallel universe with her incredible imagination.

I loved the idea of people moving around in photos, quidditch gladiators astride brooms, invisibility cloaks and butterbeer, where the millionth serving was sold at Universal Studios’ Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando in January.

Last August Warner Bros. sued a Swiss company for making Harry Potter condoms.

We watched Daniel, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint grow up in a journey that has consumed half their lives.

Radcliffe, 17 in 2007, appeared nude in Equus in London.

The interminable wait between volume four, Goblet of Fire, in 2000 and Order of the Phoenix in 2003, reminded me of when the Beatles became studio wizards and more prolonged periods of darkness punctuated the light of new summer page-turners.

The 18 hours of movies are the highest-earning franchise of all time, eclipsing even Star Wars, at $6 billion, but good and reverent to Rowling as they are, I don’t think I’ve seen half of them because they’ll never match the Magical Mystery Tour I’ve taken in my mind.

Nothing personal, Steve Kloves.

It’s been 11 years since the first fan fiction appeared and almost 10 years since Harry made The Simpsons in the Halloween “Treehouse of Horror XII,” in which Bart and Lisa enroll at Springwart’s School of Magicry, clashing with Lord Montymort and Slithers his snaky sidekick.

Snape was another favorite.

German Joseph Ratzinger disparaged them two years before becoming pope, but he knew of these “subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and, by this, deeply distort Christianity in the soul before it can grow properly.”

Radcliffe has the good sense not to claim Pottermania is bigger than Jesus.

I have the good sense not to say the snake-snouted Ralph Fiennes’ name, just as I have not uttered the name of Lennon’s assassin.

Does this Beatle fan want the literary equivalent of a reunion (although the chance encounter on Saturday Night Live would have been acceptable)?

No, you still can’t reheat a souffle. Rereading Rowling will have to do.

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