Harry Potter vs. Cormoran Strike vs. JK Rowling vs. Robert Galbraith
First of all, in a fight between Harry Potter and Cormoran Strike, Harry Potter would win. Most reasonable people would agree with that. But a struggle between JK Rowling and Robert Galbraith? I’m not so sure. I’m not comfortable with female vs. male match-ups. Maybe I’m sexist, and maybe I should be careful about how I word controversial ideas, but… sometimes men have physical advantages over women. Then again, JK Rowling claims that she’s Robert Galbraith, and so a JK Rowling-Robert Galbraith match-up would end up being an internal struggle, and those are always boring to watch.
I have to admit, I haven’t read any of the books involved. I started the first book in both series (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and The Cuckoo’s Calling), but I didn’t get far. Maybe I shouldn’t analyze novels I haven’t finished, but that hasn’t stopped me before. I write about Moby Dick all the time, and I’ve never read the whole thing. Maybe I’m the best person to write about these books because since I haven’t finished them, I have nothing emotionally invested in them and so I’m as unbiased as a book critic(?) can be.
I read 10 pages of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, but I stopped because of the word “Dumbledore.” I don’t know why I find “Dumbledore” annoying, but I do, and I can’t help what annoys me and what doesn’t. I was surprised that Dumbledore was enough to make me stop reading. I’ve read a lot of fantasy in my time, and I’m sure there are lots of names more annoying than Dumbledore, but I can’t think of them offhand.
Who knows? Maybe I could get past Dumbledore and read a Harry Potter book, but there are seven books in the series, and I don’t read more than three books from any author anymore, so I might as well not try. I won’t read A Song of Ice and Fire because it’s too many books, and I don’t think Dumbledore is even a name in Game of Thrones.
I read 50 pages of The Cuckoo’s Calling before I quit. I didn’t see any annoying names in The Cuckoo’s Calling, and if there isn’t an annoying name in the first 50 pages, a book is probably safe to read, but I didn’t quit reading The Cuckoo’s Calling because of a name. I quit because after 50 pages not much had happened
The first 50 pages of The Cuckoo’s Calling are kind of slow. I have a feeling that The Cuckoo’s Calling is a 450 page book with a 150 page story. When I read a mystery, I just want the case solved and justice served. I don’t care much for personal details about the detective. I like my 150 page mysteries solved in 150 pages (or maybe even 200 if the detective is really really interesting). There must be a market for 150 page mysteries in 450 page novels. I keep running into them in libraries and bookstores.
Maybe comparing JK Rowling to Robert Galbraith isn’t fair to Robert Galbraith. After all, Harry Potter was more groundbreaking for fantasy and YA literature than Cormoran Strike is for mysteries. And whether she deserves credit for this or not, JK Rowling is seen as mainstreaming fantasy at a time when it was for oddballs (and I mean that in a good way because I was an oddball who read fantasy… I just don’t like the name Dumbledore).
The conspiratorial side of me believes that JK Rowling isn’t really Robert Galbraith. The conspiratorial side of me believes that Robert Galbraith is a friend of JK Rowling and he wrote a book, and it didn’t sell that well, and so JK Rowling came to the rescue by having a lawyer “accidentally” reveal that she was using Robert Galbraith as a pseudonym. I know, I know, it sounds crazy and far-fetched, but if the U.S. government can stage a fake moon-landing, then JK Rowling could stage a fake pseudonym.
This fake pseudonym thing could be a new career move for JK Rowling. Whenever a decent new author writes a novel that struggles in sales, JK Rowling can swoop in and declare that she’s the real author trying a pseudonym, and the new book will become an instant bestseller. She could be like the next James Patterson, and she wouldn’t even have to share valuable cover space with a co-author.
If JK Rowling really wanted to, she could compete with James Patterson for most-books-sold-ever. I’m sure a bunch of new authors with no book sales wouldn’t mind. If JK Rowling came out one day and said Jimmy Norman was one of her pseudonyms, and she had written a short ebook called The Writing Prompt and that she also writes a blog called Dysfunctional Literacy, and The Writing Prompt became a bestseller, and Dysfunctional Literacy got millions of hits, I don’t think the real Jimmy Norman would mind, as long as he got a good chunk of money out of it. I’d even keep my mouth shut.
If this happened, I’d still badmouth James Patterson for having coauthors write (unknown portions of) his books for him. I might be a hypocrite, but I’d also be JK Rowling, so I could afford to be a hypocrite.
But enough about me. What do you think? If JK Rowling said you were her pseudonym, would you be okay with that? Is it okay to write about books that you barely started? Are the Robert Galbraith books as slow as I think they are? Was I wrong about who would win in each fight? Would you rather read a 150 page story in a 450 page novel, or a 150 page story in a 150 page novel, or a 450 page story in a 150 page novel? Is The Silkworm also a 150 page story in a 450 page book?