As probably even the most isolated member of the most isolated tribe on the most isolated island in the most isolated portion of the planet knows, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in J.K. Rowling's astonishingly popular series, is due for release at a tick past midnight on July 21. Predictably, Internet pranksters have been flooding the web with alleged scoops about the plot and, most importantly, Harry's fate; here's a typical example. More surprisingly, though, two major newspapers -- the New York Times and the Baltimore Sun -- have published reviews of the book, which they managed to snag early, and while the notices don't give away everything, they provide more info than many readers would like to have before they crack open their own copies.
I'm not going to harsh anyone's experience here. Suffice it to say that the Times piece is the more revealing of the two,while the Sun effort bears the marks of having been slapped together too quickly. (The latter doesn't even mention the book's title until its last few paragraphs.) Rowling is predictably pissed that this is happening, as she makes clear in a statement included in this article.
More interesting, though, is the decision by the Times and the Sun to play this particular game. Obviously, their web hits will go through the roof, and in today's media environment, that makes up for a multitude of sins. Still, it's a shame that representatives of the mainstream press are following the example of malicious or over-eager onliners, thereby forcing Potter-philes into virtual isolation if they want to experience Rowling's concluding volume as the author intended. Such folks should resist the urge to click the links above, since the Times and the Sun are obviously more interested in racking up Internet visits than in saving any surprises.
Oh yeah: In The Sixth Sense, Bruce Willis' character is dead. Sorry if I spoiled that for anyone, but I think the statute of limitations has finally expired.-- Michael Roberts