pop culture's bravest

Year in Review: J.K. Rowling, Puppetmaster

Photo Illustration: Getty Images, Scholastic, Random copyright infringers, TIME Magazine, Warner Brothers

From now until the end of the year, Vulture will celebrate the people who made 2007 what it was: Pop Culture’s Bravest.

For those of us who took seriously the adventures and life passages of a fictional British teenage wizard — that is to say, almost everyone in the world, apparently — 2007 was a hell of a year. J.K. Rowling tugged our strings like the expert puppeteer she is; from fighting against book-leakers and early reviewers to waiting until everyone had finished Deathly Hallows to out Dumbledore, Rowling wanted to stage-manage the way readers experienced Harry Potter just as she had so expertly stage-managed Harry’s own story. If she could afford to buy everyone in the world a comfy chair to read the book in, she probably would’ve. Oh, wait — she could afford that.

Of course, the mischief makers and marauders’-map users of the world can’t be stopped, and so for every example of Rowling perfectly planning the Harry Potter theme park, there were a thousand fake Chinese editions or racy slash manga. Harry Potter and his friends were simply too lively to exist solely in Rowling’s imagination, and so despite her iron grip over them, they popped up everywhere: Simpsonized, onstage at the UCBT, in the book-to-film market, in Ohio, rocking out in Brooklyn.

In the end, though, it all came down to the book. Months of feverish anticipation, rich with theories, false clues, and quixotic attempts. Eight million copies were sold on that first crazy day, and we — like so many others— spent all weekend in our non-Rowling-sanctioned chair and devoured all 784 pages. In some ways it disappointed us; in some ways it made us really sad; in many ways we were thrilled to reach the end of such a momentous story.

What’s left for J.K. Rowling, and for Harry? Supposedly she’s working on a detective novel, which will undoubtedly be disappointing, for her and for us. Maybe one day we’ll get to read The Tales of Beedle the Bard or Rowling’s Harry Potter Encyclopedia. The movies are getting better and better, but there are only two left. Luckily, we have kids, so six or eight or ten years from now, we’ll get to hunker down with them and read the books all over again, this time watching as someone else’s imagination gets captured by Harry and his friends. And then, when we’ve finished the last book, and our daughters sit silently, their eyes shiny with tears as they think about the marvelous adventure they’ve just experienced, we’ll shout: “Surprise! Dumbledore’s gay!”

Year in Review: J.K. Rowling, Puppetmaster