I can almost feel sorry for J. K. Rowling. By age 40 she had published the most successful literature series in history, become the richest woman in England and, according to Forbes, was the first person ever to become a billionaire by writing books.
By any accounts, 40 is too young to retire. So what does one do for a second act?
Ms. Rowling tried turning her hand to crime novel writing, but the glare of Harry Potter washes out anything else connected with her name. After claiming she would never add to the series, now it seems that she is doing precisely that with a forthcoming sequel.
And why not? Better than the sad attempts to stir up controversy with her post-publication commentaries, which seem aimed at no goal other that remaining relevant after her book sales ceased to make headlines. First she told us that Albus Dumbledore is gay, an assessment that cooled the enthusiasm of many fans and met with incredulity from many others.
Then she began apologizing for killing off her characters, first Remus Lupin then, most recently, Fred Weasely.
If Leo Tolstoy were still alive, would we expect him to apologize for killing off Anna Karenina? Did William Shakespeare go too far by killing off Romeo and Juliet? Should Arthur Miller have re-imagined the saga of Willy Loman as Life of a Salesman? And is there anybody with more blood on his hands than Nicholas Sparks?
Ms. Rowling’s gift for making the fantastic seem believable depended upon lacing her stories with the kind of harsh and painful twists that are inevitable in the real world. Without these, her novels would never have struck such a resonant chord with readers who could be captivated by impossible flights of fancy while finding within the narrative a wealth of down-to-earth lessons and insights for every day living.
Of course, maybe Ms. Rowling didn’t mean any of it, like the April Fool’s joke of Harry being a figment of Ron’s imagination.
We can hope, while suggesting that the author remember the words of King Solomon: Do not say, “How is it that times gone by were better than these?” For that is not a question prompted by wisdom.
With a talent for storytelling like yours, Ms. Rowling, no apologies are necessary.