Category: jk rowling

The Casual Vacancy HBO TV Show; A Lot of Gay Sex In New York; The Pope Is At It Again

The Casual Vacancy HBO TV Show

The first novel J. K. Rowling wrote after the Harry Potter series titled, The Casual Vacancy, was recently made into an HBO mini-series with the same title. When I read the novel I loved it so much I made a point of reviewing it here. 

Here’s part of that book review:

Rowling could have held back in some instances, especially with regard to the male teenage characters. And yet she didn’t, and I found this aspect of the book more like a character study. It surprised me, too. As someone who never had read Harry Potter, I honestly didn’t think she had it in her. This is why I didn’t want to get into an overall plot description with this review. So many others have done that well in other reviews, and I wanted to add a few different thoughts…if that’s possible…for readers who might be thinking of reading The Casual Vacancy but aren’t sure if it’s the book for them.

All I can say if that if you like things glossed over and hidden, and you’re not a fan of really reading about some of the more intense things in life, this might not be the book for you. If you tend to take the more difficult aspects of life seriously and you carry images around in your head for a long time, this book might not be for you either. But if you are interested in reading something that gets into the realities and complications of what life is like today, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprsed at how J.K. Rowling managed to pull this off. And I hope there are more books like this one in her future.

I’ve already seen the first two installments of The Casual Vacancy on HBO and I recommend it highly, even if you didn’t read the book. You’ll also get to see what life is like in a quiet little English village, too…at least I’m assuming this is all accurate.

I don’t have any idea when the show airs again, but I do know that the first two installments are on On Demand. I’m sure if you check your cable listings with a search you’ll get all the information you need.

A Lot of Gay Sex In New York

This one is really nothing more than clickbait and an advertorial for a web series titled, Hunting Season. From what I gather it’s about all the sex gay men in their 20’s are getting in New York. It’s annoying for many reasons, but one of the most annoying reasons is that it suggests that only gay men in their 20’s, in New York, are getting a lot of sex. Which is pure bullshit…on all counts. 

When Alex runs into someone from his past he re-considers the consequences of his freedom and decides to make some changes, with unexpected results.  His two best friends are going through their own turmoil as well, as Tommy (Marc Sinoway) confronts someone who despises him and everything he stands for, and TJ (Jake Manabat) and his husband explore non-monogamy in their marriage.

You can read the rest of this tripe here. It’s the worst kind of advertorial, with cliches like “keeping his dance card filled.” However, as someone in the comments pointed out it’s pure escapism and fantasy and there’s nothing wrong with that. I just wish these PR and marketing idiots would realize that once in a while and say that.

The Pope Is At It Again

This is an interesting Pope. It seems that each time he opens his mouth something more unusual escapes and makes headlines. This time he’s claiming that heterosexual marriage is The “Masterpiece of Society.” Obviously, emphasizing the word “heterosexual.”

Jesus teaches us that the masterpiece of society is the family: the man and the woman who love each other. In many countries, the number of separations is increasing, while the number of children is in decline. Christians do not marry only for themselves. They marry in the lord in favor of all the community, of society as a whole.”

I noticed how he fails to mention that the Catholic church makes money on divorce in a highly interesting way. I’m going to simplify this, but here’s a link to more details. When a Catholic gets divorced he/she is not in the same high standing as the non-divorced Catholic. I don’t think anyone can dispute that, especially if they re-marry. In order to receive what is called a “Papal Annulment” from the church, which will put the re-married divorced Catholic back in good standing, the divorced Catholic has to go through a tribunal council and it winds up costing about ten thousands dollars to do this. I think the costs my vary from place to place. The people I know spent thousands. It also takes a great deal of time…years sometimes. I know several people who have been through this, and I’ve actually answered a ten page questionnaire for someone. And I hope I never have to do that again. They were some of the most personal, private, embarrassing questions I have ever seen in my life. It wasn’t something I enjoyed doing, but I couldn’t refuse either. However, my personal advice would have been don’t bother and spend that money on something more important.

You can check the Pope out here. 

Here’s an excerpt from the link above:

The wait for a decision from the Tribunal can be frustrating, as the process may take many months.  Because of the number of marriage cases pending before the Tribunal and the detailed and careful process with which each one is handled, it is never possible to expedite any one’s request for a declaration of nullity, or to promise a definite date of conclusion, or even to promise a favorable decision.  Because of this, if you are seeking an Decree of Invalidity with a future remarriage in mind, please know that the priest or deacon assisting you in your preparations is not able, and not permitted, to set even a tentative date for a new marriage until you have a final and favorable decision, in writing, from the Tribunal.

Amazon review:

5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Fun Story! April 30, 2015

Verified Purchase

The Rainbow Detective Agency is owned by two gay men – Proctor Gamble and Blair Huntingdon. Proctor is 36 years old and was once a male swimsuit model. The case they are working on now involves a C List celebrity/model named Isaac Luke. He’s a closet gay and also has a very rare physical affliction. He has worked in the past for a designer named Lion Hewitt and has also been personally involved with him.

Isaac is kidnapped and Lion Hewitt hires The Rainbow Detective Agency to find Isaac and to keep the physical affliction from becoming public knowledge. It all turns out to be fun and games until poor Isaac finds his luck has ran completely dry!

The playful banter between Proctor and Blair was a lot of fun and they remind me of Oscar and Felix on the Odd Couple. They are passionate men so you can expect to read quite a bit of steamy scenes with these two. Both, Proctor and Blair were very excited to get acquainted with Isaac and see his special package ( so to speak).

A very fun story! It reads like a smooth dream and the characters have a lot of energy, heart, and charm.

JK Rowling on Hogwarts; Book Promotion Boot Camp; 9 Rejected Great Books

JK Rowling on Hogwarts

It’s been sixteen years since the Battle of Hogwarts and JK Rowling tweeted about it this morning.

Rowling confessed that she “hated killing some of those people.” As of this writing, the Harry Potter author’s message has been re-tweeted more than 83,000 times. Which of the characters do you love most?

There’s more here. I’ve never read the Harry Potter series, but love Rowling’s other fiction. I always feel as if I’m missing out on something. But that kind of kid/fantasy thing wasn’t for me as a kid and it’s just not for me now.

Book Promotion Boot Camp

This kind of surprised me because from the way it looks it’s being sponsored by Mediabistro. I’m not knocking it. I think anything writers can learn about book promotion is probably helpful, if it pays off. But this course is not cheap. And I wonder if it talks about the more furtive side of book promotion that honest authors are up against now. You know, trying to compete against “the other ones” who pay for fake five star reviews, put books up early for pre-release and start hawking the bestseller lists, pay for fake awards, have illegal contests…and well, etc… You get my point. You can’t be an honest writer promoting a book these days without knowing what you’re up against in the old wild west of book promotion where it seems everything is fair game. In fact, I’m starting to wonder if it’s possible to be an honest writer anymore.

Our brand new boot camp, Book Promotion & Publicity  starts July 10! In this intensive boot camp, you will learn the publicity skills needed to ensure a successful book launch using various promotional techniques, whether you’re an author who’s already working with a big publisher or are self-published! Register before May 29 and save $50 with Early Bird Pricing! Register now! 

The regular course price is $349. If you register now it’s $299. You can also register for weekly webcasts. If you do that now they are $199, regularly $249.

I’m putting a call out to anyone who has taken this course or will be taking it. I’d like to know how much it helped you after all is said and done. And I’m not talking about how much valuable information you gained that made you a better person. I’m not talking about how it helped you grow emotionally and spiritually. I’m talking about whether or not you at least doubled your $349 investment. Because we’re talking about writing as a business, not a funtime hobby. And I would want to at least double my investment with something like this. I would expect it. Feel free to contact me here: I’ll even give you and open blog spot for that day to post whatever you wish. If the course did help you I think you should share. If it didn’t, I would hope that you’d want to share.

9 Great Books That Almost Didn’t Make It

We talk about how rejection is subjective to the point where it often becomes cliché. However, it’s true and no one should ever take rejection seriously. But rejection isn’t the only reason some books almost never made it. Here’s a list of 9 great books that almost didn’t get published for various reasons.

In John Updike’s “Rabbit, Run,” protagonist Harry Angstrom contemplates his escape from the confines of his mid-century, middle-class American life. He observes, “There is this quality, in things, of the right way seeming wrong at first.” Angstrom’s no sage — he goes on to do some pretty terrible things — but there’s truth in this insight, especially when considering how many classic novels were originally rejected by perfectly smart and capable publishers. The most commonly-cited excuse? The stories were just too different.

You can read the list of 9 here.

I thought it was interesting that in Harper Lee’s case her book almost didn’t get published because she almost threw To Kill a Mockingbird out in the snow halfway through it.

Steve Kornacki Out; New Harry Potter Fiction; Sisssyboy Insult

Steve Kornacki Out

I rarely watch anything on MSNBC, but I do think it’s important to post about things like this in a general sense. We often take for granted that it’s simple for gay men to come out, and when they don’t I sometimes hear people slam them. There’s even a day set aside each year called National Coming Out Day that I’ve never fully supported because I’ve heard from some gay men it puts even more pressure on them. I personally can’t even imagine setting aside a day like that to come out. The concept just passes me by. I think this story about MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki is a good example of how difficult it can be to come out.

He had spent 15 years surpressing this core part of his personality before writing  a deeply personal column for Salon in the fall of 2011 that took readers into the compartmentalized world that a lot of men feel they must live in in order to have the life they want.

He told his family only the weekend before the piece was published by passing copies of the column around at lunch.
Their first words after reading it: ‘We’re proud of you.’

You can read more here. Kornacki gave an interview where he talks about what it was like to be in the closet, and then what it was like to come out.

Many of you may find this next quote unusual. I don’t. I still think many gay men are living lives they chose to live instead of the lives they were meant to live.

‘I’m not sure I would have reached adulthood with a willingness to even start exploring this side of me, and I can imagine ending up getting married to a woman, having kids, and settling down just because that was the only thing to do.’

New Harry Potter Fiction

Even though I don’t follow anything Harry Potter because I’ve never actually read the books…it’s not my genre…I think it’s interesting that JK Rowling will be writing new installments from what’s called a fictional Quidditch World Cup. I have no idea what this means. The only cup I’m interested in is the extra large one Daniel Radcliff wears when he plays sports. But I’m sure many will find this worthy of checking out.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling will be filing regular dispatches from the fictional 2014 Quidditch World Cup, which is “taking place” this month in the Patagonian desert. The initial updates, penned by Daily Prophet Quidditch correspondent and Harry Potter spouse Ginny Potter nee Weasley, make the faux South America-based World Cup sound far more exciting than the real one that will take place later this summer, though, depending on your opinion of soccer, that may be damning the Quidditch tournament with faint praise.

You can read the rest here. I do love Rowling’s other fiction, especially The Casual Vacancy, so one of these days I’m going to force myself to read the Potter series.

Sissyboy Insult

The fascinating thing about this link is that it happened to a straight male with a wife and kids. Phone company, Sprint, allegedly called the man a “gay sissyboy” in an e-mail.

‘I expressed my concerns to them and how serious this is to me and my wife,’ he said, as reported by NBC News.

 ‘I don’t live a homosexual life, I never gave Sprint anything to go on and think that, and even if I did I don’t think it would be fair to say this on my account.’

From what I can tell, the man did not get defensive or embarrassed about being called gay. Instead, he believes what the company did was degrading in a general sense to anyone because of the language used.

You can read more here. The company has since apologized.

For those who might be interested, there’s a web site, NSFW, dedicated to gay sissyboys.

JK Rowling on Hermione; 1M Moms Gets Pissed at Disney

JK Rowling on Hermione

I have to admit that I never read the Harry Potter series because it’s just not my genre. But I did read, and review, Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy and I loved it. So when I saw this article about JK Rowling kind of backtracking about how she would have re-written something in Harry Potter I thought it was interesting because most writers feel that way at one point or another. And it usually happens after a length of time has passed and you can stand back and look at things more objectively.

“I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That’s how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.”

“I know, I’m sorry, I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.”

Even though I don’t have a clue about Hermione or Ron, I do know how she feels. I’m dealing with that right now with the third book in the Glendora Hill series and I can’t decide whether or not I want the book to end the way I prefer it to end, or the way I think readers will prefer it to end. And this book could go two distinct ways, which doesn’t always happen. And, both will be happy endings.

You can read more about Rowling here.

1M Moms Gets Pissed at Disney

I once posted something about a group of conservatives called One Million Moms. They claimed to have been responsible for having gay TV show, The New Normal, canceled, which is ridiculous. The point is they don’t like any gay characters on TV, and now they are seething at the Disney channel for having a lesbian couple in the storyline.

One Million Moms launched an email campaign in 2013 that urged Disney officials to abandon their plans to corrupt the children’s network with LGBT content. However, Disney officials have not responded to the thousands of emails protesting their plans. Disney has decided to be politically correct instead of providing family-friendly programming. Disney should stick to entertaining, not pushing an agenda.

Conservative families need to urge Disney to avoid controversial topics that children are far too young to comprehend. This is the last place a parent would expect their children to be confronted with topics that are too difficult for them to understand. Mature issues of this nature are being introduced too early and too soon, and it is extremely unnecessary.

You can read more here, with a link to the full statement they made.

When I was a kid there were two single women living together in my small town in New Jersey. One was a school teacher, the other worked as a secretary. They lived together and shared their lives for over fifty years in the same home. I think one is still alive, but I’m not sure. In any event, even back then as kids we knew there was something different about them. No one had to tell us. We just knew. And of course adults would roll their eyes and make snide spinster jokes when they thought we weren’t listening. So is that what One Million Moms wants us to return to? That ignorant, intolerant, state of mind where we all knew it was there but just didn’t talk about it?

It’s not the kids that have problems with gay characters on TV, it’s the adults.

How Do You Feel About M/M Authors Using Different Names in M/M?

How Do You Feel About M/M Authors Using Different Names in M/M?

It’s been a longtime standard that when a writer ventures away from his or her own genre he/she often takes on a pen name. It’s done for many reasons, two of which are to keep established readers from getting confused and to introduce new readers to an author’s work without bias. In other words, JK Rowling recently used a pen name for a book she wrote in a different genre because she’s so well known for the Harry Potter series. However, when that pen name was disclosed there were quite a few mixed reactions.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve written several books with pen names because I was venturing outside of my genre. One was titled “Loving Daylight,” a hetero pg-rated romance that was part of a Home Shopping Network collection where I was paid a flat fee up front. I never promoted the book much because of the fact that I made the flat fee and I wasn’t counting on sales, and it’s still up on Amazon lingering in the middle of nowhere. Oddly, it’s one of my own favorite books that I’ve written. And, one of the few where I actually own a print copy.

I also wrote two gay erotic romance mystery/suspense novels, here and here, and used a pen name for that, too…Dale Bishop. In this case, because they were gay themed books, even though they were mystery/suspense I felt very uncomfortable using the pen name because I write so much in the gay romance genre, and gay erotica genre. It felt sneaky and shady and sleazy to take on a whole new persona and go out there and actively promote these books on social media as Dale Bishop. So at the time I wound up not promoting those books at all and they have also been lingering in Amazon nowhere land for a long time. And, once again, I loved writing these books and I think they were some of the sexiest pieces I’ve ever done.

What prompted me to write this post was a link I found where a few established m/m romance authors were speaking in a video for a few minutes. It wasn’t anything long, but it was long enough to make me wonder when they clearly and proudly introduced themselves, on camera, as completely different people. I had to go back and watch again to be certain I hadn’t missed anything. And when I saw that I was, indeed, correct I did a quick search to see if I could find an explanation. Evidently, these established m/m authors are now writing YA m/m. I guess that’s considered a different genre in m/m. I’m not that familiar with m/m to really know.

I just thought it was interesting to see authors go on camera and actually introduce himself and herself as completely different people than what we’ve always known them to be. I can’t even describe it well in this post because I’ve never seen it done before. JK Rowling didn’t do that with her pen name. She worked hard to keep it a secret until someone with a huge mouth outed her. She actually filed suit and won…the money went to charity. But more important, she really was reaching out to a new audience in a completely different genre, not a related genre or sub-genre of Harry Potter.

Rowling sued Chris Gossage, a partner at her former law firm, Russells, and his friend, Judith Callegari. Gossage had revealed to Callegari that Rowling was the real author of The Cuckoo’s Calling, which she wrote under the pen name Robert Galbraith. Callegari then passed the information on to a Sunday Times columnist via Twitter, leading the newspaper to investigate, and eventually confirm and publish, Rowling’s true identity.

Rowling made a gracious statement about it.

“I always knew that if and when I was discovered I would ask for my royalties to be paid to ABF The Soldier’s Charity,” Rowling said in a statement. “This is partly as a thank you to the people who helped with research, but also because researching and writing the character of [detective Cormoran] Strike has given me an even greater appreciation and understanding of exactly how much this charity does for serving soldiers, ex-servicemen and their families, and how much that support is needed.”

I have seen authors who use pen names introduce themselves with their known identity and then explain they are writing with a pen name for various reasons. And those reasons are usually valid, just like Rowling’s reasons. I’ve seen it in bios and I’ve seen it in articles about the writer, but always with an explanation. I just never saw it done on camera, and without an explanation, and it took me by surprise. I think I even blinked a few times. And now I’m wondering how readers feel about this. I’m guessing it’s okay? If I were to go on camera (or use a photo with my image) and introduce myself as Dale Bishop without an explanation you guys wouldn’t mind?

But I’m still debating on whether or not to change my bio and add the pen names. At the time, I felt like I was doing something underhanded by writing as Dale Bishop with the Manhandled series because it was gay themed, and yet at the same time mystery/suspense. I guess I was just being too careful? Notice the questions marks I keep using. I’m still not sure yet. And I’d really love to know what readers think. Feel free to e-mail me in private… 

Anthony Weiner Sexts; Channing Tatum on Broadway; J.K. Rowling Number One

Anthony Weiner Sexts

When I post things here on this blog, I actually do make a conscious effort to keep with the theme of Naughty Guys with Strong Stories. Mostly that’s about my fiction, however, I don’t think there’s been a naughtier guy with a stronger story than Anthony Weiner since the Bill Clinton era. And now that’s he’s running for mayor of New York City more information about his penchant for sexting has surfaced and every crooked politician in NY seems to have jumped onto the band wagon to seize Weinder’s weak spot, and they are calling for him to drop out of the race.

Three of his rivals for mayor — Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former City Councilman Sal Albanese, both Democrats, and billionaire John Catsimatidis, a Republican — also called on Weiner to quit the race.

“Enough is enough,” de Blasio said. “The sideshows of this election have gotten in the way of the debate we should be having about the future of this city.”

So far, Weiner has the support of his wife and he’s not making any moves to drop out. And frankly, I hope he doesn’t.

While I do think that Weiner’s lack of discretion has created most of his problems because we live in a society that likes to cover these issues up all the time, I don’t think his issues should be a deciding factor on whether or not he can run the city of New York. At least in his case we know he’s an exhibitionist, he takes care of his body, and he happens to enjoy sex. Compare this to past politicians like John F. Kennedy or even the late mayor of NY, Ed Koch, and the only thing Weiner is guilty of doing is showing a little too much too often. The hidden sex lies about Kennedy were never actually addressed in public, and openly acknowledged. To this day, there are still people who think Jack and Jackie Kennedy were the perfect married couple. And Mayor Koch lived his entire life as a closeted gay man who didn’t even acknowledge the AIDS virus…and he was mayor during a time when thousands of gay men were dying from it. On another note, it took over two hundred years to acknowledge that Thomas Jefferson not only had slaves, but that he made his living…a very good living…on breeding slaves and selling human beings for profit. Maybe I’m wrong about this, but I think sexting falls into an entirely different category than selling human beings to make a buck.

Weiner’s wife has openly supported him so far. Anyone who has ever been married knows that what happens between spouses, gay or straight, is unique and not all circumstances are handled the same way. And unless you can stand up and say you have the ultimate perfect marriage, I don’t think anyone should be pointing fingers at anyone else. And, anyone who has been married knows that there is no such thing as the perfect marriage and that marriage is more about learning to compromise, mostly in ways you never could have portended when you were single. The levels or degrees on which we’re willing to compromise differ from person to person, however, no one has it perfect. And sex is a big part of everyone’s life and no one is willing to admit that openly. I personally know a few closeted gay politicians, Democrat and Republican, who come to New Hope because it’s a safe gay community, to visit their kept male lovers. These men are married with children and they live double lives. I wrote about this in the upcoming book, The Palm Beach Stud, with a minor character.

Anthony Weiner is obviously not perfect, but no one is perfect. At least he’s been open about his mistakes. Or at least I hope he’s been open about them. And that’s far more than we can say about any politician, including those who cruise men’s rooms and lie about that all the time. Most of the time we get nothing more than a spin and what they want us to know, thanks to crafty PR people and those who stand to gain a great deal of money from the system. At least we know Weiner’s not perfect.

Channing Tatum on Broadway

As with most things these days, this came from a tweet. Channing Tatum posted on twitter that the stage version of his recent film, Magic Mike, is headed for Broadway.

 “Magic Mike, The Musical” will be written by Aguirre-Sacasa, who co-wrote the book for “Spider Man: Turn Off The Dark.” Tony winning songwriters, Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, creators of “Next To Normal,” are set to write the songs for the musical.

Anyone who follows me regularly knows that I have never been a fan of torch songs, Broadway show tunes, or anything even remotely related to musical comedy. In fact, I dislike them so much I love to parody them…I’m still thinking about writing an erotic romance titled, Banging in the Rain based on Singing in the Rain. However, I passed on seeing Magic Mike in the theaters, and I even passed on renting it on demand because I didn’t think I would like it. From everything I had read about it at the time I imagined a bunch of straight guys involved in a typical hetero romance plot. So when I finally did see in on one of the premium channels I was a little amazed at how good it was, and how much I liked the storyline. I hope they do justice to the film with the play.

J.K. Rowling Number One

Who didn’t actually think this would happen? Seriously. I posted about Rowling’s pen name being disclosed last week, and about her new mystery suspense, Cuckoo’s Calling, and I didn’t have a doubt in my mind she’d hit the number one on more than a few bestseller lists.

J. K. Rowling will land at No. 1 on USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list on Thursday – but this time as Robert Galbraith.

As most of the world now knows, Galbraith is the pseudonym Rowling used when she released a detective novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, in April. Despite good reviews, it sold fewer than 1,000 copies.

Even though I loved her adult book, The Casual Vacancy, I’m not planning to read the new book right away because mystery suspense is just not my thing, and lack of time. But I do find it interesting that a book with a pen name written by Rowling lingers around without doing much for a while, plus good reviews, and then it hits all the bestseller lists the instant her real name is revealed.

I do believe Rowling had nothing to do with revealing her name in public. But I can’t help thinking there’s also a problem with the book system as we know it and that we’re not getting all the information…or we’re not bothering to look for all the information…we need in order to find good books. So when I post about new web sites like Lazy Beagle Entertainment I’m hoping people will really start to take this seriously and that they will check it out and give a few new authors a try. Because the only difference between J.K. Rowling and an unknown author is that Rowling has a little more luck and a little more publicity on her side. And if that weren’t the case, her pen name, Robert Galbraith, would have hit all the bestseller lists, too, just based on the reviews alone. And that God awful title, Cuckoo’s Call, didn’t put her on the bestseller list. I’m not even sure WTF a Cuckoo is.

I don’t often talk about marketing and publicity here, especially PR firms like this one that represents Debbie Macomber and Nora Roberts, and is affliated with a few people who might suprise you because they keep it very toned down. But I think readers should know some of the things that happen behind the scenes, and I’m going to get into that more in the future. I may wind up in the river with a cinder block tied to my leg, but the information we are getting on a grand scale is not by accident. And those who often speak of full disclosure don’t always practice it. It wasn’t sheer talent that landed Debbie Macomber a movie deal with Hallmark. So there’s nothing more important nowadays than publicty and marketing, and the least of that deals with reviews.

Book Review: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

I don’t think I could add anything too different from what’s already been said about The Casual Vacancy in over three thousand Amazon reviews. I’ve noticed that the reviews are mixed, and about half either loved the book or half didn’t. I’d like to add up front that I did not read anything in the Harry Potter series because I’m not a fan of that genre. I saw a few of the movies and I yawned through them. Once again, because I’m not a fan of that particular genre.

But I am a fan of J.K. Rowling now and it’s all because of The Casual Vacancy. I’ve read where a lot of people didn’t like the fact that there are so many characters. I found this aspect not only refreshing, but also something most writers aren’t capable of doing. As a writer I know how difficult it is to weave multiple characters into a plot and I don’t do it often because it’s so difficult to keep the story flowing and at the same time keep reminding the reader who the characters are. And I didn’t have any issues following all the characters in The Casual Vacancy. In fact, what kept me reading and thinking about the book was what was going to happen to these characters. And there’s really nothing extraordinary about them, and yet you wind up caring about them.

I will admit that I started this book a while ago, and then I put it aside because I got busy with other things. But that’s something else I loved about it. I do that with authors like John Irving sometimes. I’ll start the book, get to a certain point, and then stop reading for a few weeks…even months sometimes…and then come back to it right where I left off. And after all that time, if the book is good enough, those characters and the plot are with me to a certain extent. I can’t say that about many other books I’ve read in my lifetime. And that’s because a book like The Casual Vacancy only comes along once in a while.

I noticed a lot of people compared TCV to Peyton Place. I would go so far as to say that it did remind me of Peyton Place, but I don’t think Grace Metalious was anywhere near the author J.K. Rowling is. If I had to compare Petyon Place to anything nowadays I would probably compare it to Fifty Shades of Grey instead of The Casual Vacancy because I think Metalious and E.L. James are probably on the same level as far as author skills go. And that’s by no means a slur to either of them. They both wrote great books and people loved them.

But there’s a literary quality to The Casual Vacancy that crosses that painfully thin line into mainstream commercial that truly interested me. From page one, I found myself caring about the people of Pagford and wondering what was going to happen to them. I also found reading about lifestyles in the UK just as interesting. In many ways, it’s not all that different from the US, and Pagford could have been my little town, New Hope, in Bucks County, PA….from the politics to the class warfare to the little secrets going on behind the scenes.

What some readers have commented on is that there’s a dark side to this book, and I just didn’t see that. There’s a realistic side. I saw that very plainly. But I didn’t see all the darkness and gloom. Like I said, it’s real and sometimes it’s intense. And sometimes there’s some wit and humor worked into the book when you don’t expect it. It’s also gossipy in the way many small towns are. But I just didn’t see all that darkness and gloom others talked about.

Rowling could have held back in some instances, especially with regard to the male teenage characters. And yet she didn’t, and I found this aspect of the book more like a character study. It surprised me, too. As someone who never had read Harry Potter, I honestly didn’t think she had it in her. This is why I didn’t want to get into an overall plot description with this review. So many others have done that well in other reviews, and I wanted to add a few different thoughts…if that’s possible…for readers who might be thinking of reading The Casual Vacancy but aren’t sure if it’s the book for them.

All I can say if that if you like things glossed over and hidden, and you’re not a fan of really reading about some of the more intense things in life, this might not be the book for you. If you tend to take the more difficult aspects of life seriously and you carry images around in your head for a long time, this book might not be for you either. But if you are interested in reading something that gets into the realities and complications of what life is like today, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprsed at how J.K. Rowling managed to pull this off. And I hope there are more books like this one in her future.

Enjoying The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling…

I wanted to post something short about The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling because of a few reviews I saw, including one in the NYT. And based on these reviews, if I were an average reader who was thinking of purchasing TCV, I might be a little confused. I’m not disagreeing with the reviews. I’m just offering another opinion in case anyone is confused. And take into consideration that I’ve never read “Harry Potter,” nor do I ever intend to read HP. So I’m reading J.K. Rowling for the first time with TCV, and I have nothing to which to compare it.

But I know how to vet reviews when I’m shopping for books, and I know how to read between the lines of these reviews to know if I’ll like the book or not. I don’t always pay attention to the glowing reviews either. Of course it’s always a gamble with something new, but I decided to buy TCV based on the negative reviews because most of what I read in those reviews that other people didn’t like sounded like things I might like.

And I was right on target this time. I bought the Kindle version late last night and read well into the early hours of Saturday morning. First, the e-book is fine. I read somewhere there were issues with formatting; I didn’t find a single issue so far. I did not see any mistakes at all in formatting, nor have I seen any other problems so far. If I do, I will post more about that. But as it stands, the quality of the e-book is just as good as any other I’ve read before. And I tend to be very particular about formatting based on my own experiences with my own e-books.

So this is a “so far” review, in case anyone is thinking about buying the book but isn’t sure. I’ve only read the first third of the book and these are my opinions…so far. I like the characters and don’t think they are dark and gloomy. I think they are real, and they remind me of a cross between the characters in an Anne Tyler novel, in a Jonathan Franzen novel, and in a Grace Metalious novel. If you don’t know who Grace Metalious is, look her up. It’s worth the effort.

The storyline begins with something shocking…our worst nightmare…and takes off from there by getting into the lives of people who live in a small town in England, Pagford. Try not to read the Amazon blurb because it gives out a spoiler right away. I didn’t read it and I’m glad I didn’t. It would have ruined the first two chapters for me. Aside from this, it seems to be about family, about the interaction between couples, and about small town relationships with friends. For those who live in small towns or are familiar with small towns, you’ll find yourself relating to more than a few things.

It’s also well written and moves quickly. Nothing offensive like so many things I see nowadays in fiction with respect to said bookisms and bad dialouge tags overloaded with adverbs. This writing is tight and concise. There’s nothing that will take you out of the storyline. I tend to be particular about these things as well. And when someone like J.K. Rowling writes a novel like this I’m expecting her to live up to her reputation. And so far she has. I don’t have one single complaint.

That’s about all I can say for now. I will post a full review when I’m finished reading. I hope this might help someone who is thinking about buying TCV but isn’t sure because of the reviews they’ve read so far. It didn’t take long for the author to pull me into the story and that doesn’t always happen. And I don’t have that “I’ll keep reading and hope it gets better” feeling. This time I can’t wait to pick up my e-reader and get back into it.