There's Something About Harry
Thursday, June 29, 2000
The fourth book in J.K. Rowling''s enormously popular Harry Potter series will hit the streets on Saturday, July 8. This is the only fact in this entire article that we know to be absolutely, unrefutably true. So thick is the veil of secrecy surrounding the breathlessly awaited book that no one even knows, or will admit to knowing its title.
For the benefit of Muggles (non-magical people), Harry Potter is an orphan who lived with his cruel aunt and uncle and their spoiled son, Dudley, for 10 years in a cupboard under the stairs. When he turned 11, Harry learned that he was really a wizard whose parents were murdered by the evil Lord Voldemort. As Book Four begins, Harry is in his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he has been studying subjects like "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" and "A Beginner''s Guide to Transfiguration."
What''s going to happen in Book Four? ArtiFacts'' unimpeachable inside sources say that 1) Voldemort will kill at least one beloved character; 2) Harry, Ron and Hermione will become smitten with unsuitable people; and 3) the Dursleys will fall upon hard times. There are also hordes of unsubstantiated rumors swirling around, most of which are probably untrue but we''ll pass them on anyway: a) The character that Voldemort kills is Dumbldore! b) Crabbe and George Weasley also die! c) Harry becomes captain of the Quidditch team! and d) the corpulent Dudley goes on a diet (!).
How are local bookstores dealing with Pottermania? An informal ArtiFactual Poll revealed that most are well prepared to weather the wizardly onslaught. The book''s on-sale date isn''t until July 8, so all the bookstores polled plan to keep bartenders'' hours on Friday, July 7, so they can start selling the book at the stroke of midnight on the 8th. All stores also have daytime festivities planned for July 8.
Bookworks in Pacific Grove is staying open until 1am, and assistant manager Germaine Hatcher says they are offering a 25 percent discount on Book Four. Of the 100 copies coming in, 25 have been reserved. Borders in Sand City has ordered 400 books, with a couple hundred already reserved. The store''s release party starts at midnight.
Bay Books in Monterey will begin selling at the witching hour of 12:01 am. Store manager Ann Congleton says the bookstore has 200 books in its first shipment. "The way the phenomenon is going we won''t be surprised if we sell out the first weekend," she says.
At Thunderbird Books in Carmel, resident Pottermeister Richard Tobin couldn''t divulge the number of books in Thunderbird''s first shipment, except to say that they''ve already sold out and more have been ordered. The bookstore will close at its normal time on Friday, July 7, only to reopen at midnight and begin selling at 12:01 am. "We''ve got more reservations than we''ve ever had in the history of the store," Tobin says, sounding mighty calm for a man who''s got a baby dragon sleeping in a crate on the floor of the bookstore. Really. We don''t make this stuff up. The store is also festooned with other Potterphernalia such as a maze of signs, a large jar of Every-flavor beans, a flight of owls on the ceiling and a Nimbus 2000 (the latest thing in flying brooms).
Will Tobin venture any theories about the plot? "It''s been a complete secret," he says, although he conjectures that it''s "about time for some type of love triangle."
News Flash: As we go to press, J.K.Rowling''s publishers announced that the title of Book Four has been leaked and is now all over the Internet. Here at ArtiFacts, however, we refuse to be part of this secret-spilling. When the last mystery in the world is gutted and exposed, at least we''ll have the satisfaction of saying: You didn''t hear it from us.