Friday, July 15, 2005


Yeah, I'm a fan. I resisted for years - mostly because I am turned off by anything that gets hyped that much - but finally I was given the first book as a gift, and I was hooked. I read the first three in one gulp and then could hardly wait for the fourth to come out. Two years ago, when The Order of the Phoenix finally arrived, I was so desperate after finishing it that I was casting about for anything else I could read in a "similar" vein - actually, I discovered Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy during that period and they are absolutely fantastic.

No, it's not the same quality as the Chronicles of Narnia or Tolkien or Ursula LeGuin or - whatever, name your poison. But Rowley is a damn good story-teller. And that's what it should be all about. The movies have for the most part been weaker: though the third (most recent) one was by far the best. The first one, though extremely faithful, really just had no feeling to it. It felt like just someone going through the motions of presenting each necessary scene, in order. I simply didn't feel Harry's misery with the Dursley's. I didn't feel much of anything. But you can say that about most movies that come out of Hollywood these days.

It's hard to believe that it was two years ago that I read the last book, and that has a particular resonance with me because it was two years ago, while I was reading that book, that my current health problems began. First with the "prostatitis" - or whatever it was (it was a lot of pain) - and then with the cure that turned out to be vastly worse than the disease: a course each of Cipro and Levaquin, two Fluoroquinolone antibiotics that left me with innumerable symptoms ever since: massive numbers of floaters in each eye, distracting and uncomfortable whenever I read, constant high-pitched tinnitus in both ears, tics ands spasms that move about from body part to body part, periods of numbness, pins and needles, or excrutiatingly painful burning sensations in my hands and feet, and worst of all, constant chronic pain around the joints and tendons and debilitating "brain fog" and fatigue.

I remember well sitting on my back porch trying to read The Order of the Phoenix and not being able to focus on the page because everything in my vision seemed to be "dancing" - it wasn't until (thank God) I discovered and that I found that thousands of others had the same symptoms I was having and I realized I had to get off the Levaquin before things got even worse. In hindsight, I know now that I wasn't in my right mind while I was on the stuff: it was like I was "tripping" on something. (Another Boston-area "floxie" I have come to know was found wandering a parking lot while she was on a fluoroquinolone antibiotic and had forgotten the previous six months of her life, including the fact that she had moved to Boston! - and the psychoactive effects of Lariam (Mefloquine), an anti-malarial drug that is chemically very similar to fluoroquinolone antibiotics, and which was implicated in a series of murder-suicides on Army bases, are also well known: not to mention that a young man in Memphis is in jail on multiple attempted manslaughter charges for stabbing his family while on Cipro - none of whom died, and all of whom are blaming the drug and supporting the kid.)

Given the shape I was in - by the 6th day of Levaquin (after 14 days of Cipro) I wasn't even able to stand without someone helping me - I doubt I would have survived if I had tried to finish the entire 21-day course. At least the worst of the psychoactive symptoms went away as soon as I stopped the drug, and I recovered to the point of being able to walk unaided again and - of course - to finish reading Phoenix. But I've been a shred of the man I was, ever since. I'm looking forward to reading the latest installment, but it's bittersweet.

In fact, in keeping with my chronic post-FQ fatigue, I'm just too tired to stay up tonight to make it to the Harry Potter party at our local independent bookstore, Porter Square Books; plus, I'm in class the next two weeks, at 8:30 am some days, and so I'm trying to re-set my sleep schedule to an earlier slot in preparation for the ordeal. (I work at home most days since my "floxing", as they call it, so I'm not used to having to go in every day: let alone at the crack of dawn.) It's ok, I don't need to start reading it tonight: we already pre-ordered our copies and can pick them up tomorrow with the dogs (they'll want their treats at the counter, after all). But I wish I had more energy, of course. And I bet it would have been fun.

A couple miles further away, Harvard Square's only remaining independent general-purpose bookstore, Harvard Book Store, is having an even bigger "do". It's so much fun that I'm taking the liberty of pasting it in here. Anybody (as if I had any readers) who reads this will find it too late to join the party, but at least I fixed up their links so if you click on them you can actually order from them and support an independent bookstore (for this post, at least):

From :

Scholastic, Inc.


20% Off: $23.96

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince PARTY

The wait is almost over!

Celebrate with other Harry Potter fans at Harvard Book Store on July 15th at 10:30 p.m., as we prepare ourselves for the commencement of Year Six at Hogwarts and the continuing adventures of our hero as told in the forthcoming Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

As we wait for the stroke of midnight and the official release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, we’ll be keeping things fun for kids and adults.

  • Test your knowledge of Hogwarts history with our roving “triviadours” for a chance to win a temporary Harry Potter tattoo
  • Receive a lightening bolt scar just like Harry’s, courtesy of Harvard Book Store face painters
  • Enter our Diagon Alley Raffle for special treats straight from Flourish & Blotts Bookstore, Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor, and Ollivander's Wand Shop
  • One lucky student from each Hogwarts House will capture a Golden Snitch with their purchased copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Each Snitch wins one fabulous audio book of the new Harry Potter adventure! (retailed at $75 for CD and $50 Cassette)
  • Costumes highly encouraged—come dressed as your favorite character from J.K. Rowling’s beloved series!

No tickets or purchases are necessary to attend Harvard Book Store’s Harry Potter celebration.

Copies of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince are 20% off at Harvard Book Store. Buy it in the store or order it online.

Boy. They've been creative. I hope they have a lot of fun, and I hope they sell a lot of books! (Porter Square books, too!) Anyway. Off to bed for me!!

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