A Harry Decision: ‘NYT’ and ‘The Sun’ Break Embargo on Potter Book

By: E&P Staff

It was the most closely held literary secret anyone can remember, and the “embargo” was supposed to hold for a two more days yet, but The New York Times and The Sun of Baltimore appear to be first out of the gate with a review of the new Harry Potter novel.

The Washington Post said it would honor the embargo.

The Times explained that it bought a copy in a New York City store. Often “embargoed” books accidentally, or on purpose, get put out for sale early.

The Sun said that the relative of a newsroom staffer had ordered a copy and it arrived early (the publisher had admitted that some 1,200 copies were sent out before scheduled). It said it had not paid for it, and after some debate, ran the review, by staffer Mary Carole McCauley.

She did not give away the ending, but revealed some plot twists, so a few dozen angry fans protested at the Sun’s newly redesigned Web site.

The Times review was written by longtime staff critic Machiko Kakutani.

In her summary: “J. K. Rowling?s monumental, spellbinding epic, 10 years in the making, is deeply rooted in traditional literature and Hollywood sagas ? from the Greek myths to Dickens and Tolkien to Star Wars. And true to its roots, it ends not with modernist, ‘Soprano’-esque equivocation, but with good old-fashioned closure: a big-screen, heart-racing, bone-chilling confrontation and an epilogue that clearly lays out people?s fates.

“Getting to the finish line is not seamless ? the last part of ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,’ the seventh and final book in the series, has some lumpy passages of exposition and a couple of clunky detours ? but the overall conclusion and its determination of the main characters? story lines possess a convincing inevitability that make some of the prepublication speculation seem curiously blinkered in retrospect.”

From the Sun review: “Suffice it to say, though, that once you have consumed the final sentence on the final page crafted by Rowling, the ending seems inevitable. It is a tribute to the author’s consummate storytelling skills that once the pieces fall into place, it all seems rather obvious. No other outcome would have been as plausible.”


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