I know I said we were done reporting on Harry Potter stuff. But as anticipation for the seventh and final book in J.K. Rowling’s series works its way into an exquisite frenzy just hours before the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it’s hard to think about anything else.

And, Ali Karimic grumblings aside, it’s also difficult not to be swept up in an excitement this vast. We’re all about books and reading around here. All of this excitement isn’t about a movie or a rock star or a sports personality. It’s about a book. A book for kids. How bad can that be?

This exquisite Potter frenzy is, of course, international in scope. Wherever on earth you look right this second, you encounter kids reading. (Albeit, a lot of them are dressed up in funny costumes.) And if they’re not reading, they’re thinking about reading very soon. And they will be, despite the fact that a rash of Internet spoilers have tried to ruin some of the fun, led — of all things — by the New York Times who broke the embargo with a review a couple of days ago. (The lack of link here is deliberate, btw. Embargo breakers don’t get linked to. At least, not from here. Here, however, is a link to one of the stories about how very pissed the author is about getting… um… pissed on.)

I happen to agree with the spokesperson from Rowling’s UK publisher, Bloomsbury, who called the NYT’s early review of Deathly Hallows “very sad.” That wasn’t breaking the story, it was breaking integrity.

The Times of India was angry enough about the whole affair, they sometimes skated pretty close to poetic:

Author J K Rowling has reacted with fury after a US paper run a review of the final book in the Harry Potter series two days before its official publication, thereby breaking the cloak of secrecy surrounding the book.

(I like that: “cloak of secrecy.” Too bad there won’t be a book eight: Rowling could have used that one.)

As far as international media for the launch of the new book goes, the NYT’s sad breach was just the tip of the iceberg, especially for an avid Australian fan who, in the dead of winter down under, had to be rescued from a frigid lake when his advance purchase receipt for Potter 7 went fluttering into the drink and he pitched himself in after it. (Note to self: reading the books does not give you magical powers.)

According to the Brisbane Times:

A security guard pulled the man from the water about 4pm (AEST) when he was found splashing around searching for his receipt.

He was stabilised by paramedics after suffering suspected mild hyperthermia and taken to Calvary Hospital in a stable condition.

It is believed a doctor at the hospital made contact with the book store that issued the voucher and arranged for a replacement in time for Saturday morning’s release.

[Editor’s note: though two national Australian newspapers have run with this item, neither mentions “the man’s” name. And both refer to “hyperthermia” which means the body temperature is much higher than normal: something one wouldn’t expect after a rescue from “frigid” waters. In all, it would seem to have several of the earmarks of an urban legend. (Or, in this case, a UL in the making.) We suspect the item may be apocryphal, but it was so much fun, we wanted to repeat it. After all, the story has all the heroism one would like to see in an HP fan on this momentous occasion.)

Even Aljazeera has commented, reporting today that “The book’s release has been carefully orchestrated in order to maximise suspense and sales — from London and New York to Mumbai and Australia’s outback.”

Aljazeera was also the first place I’d read that “in Britain, a phone counselling service for children expects a surge in calls when readers learn who is killed off.”

Which might be their way of saying that, one way or the other — and but for some crying — the frenzy is almost over.

News Reporter

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