23 October 2016

Return to Magic: A Review of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

The house is quiet. The son and hubby have vacated to hockey school, leaving me with a 20 pound turkey in the oven, a cup of honey-sweetened coffee and level of contentment only comprehended by a parent who is home alone. The 20 pound bird have you frozen in thought, late for Canadian, too early for American Thanksgiving? There is little point of having turkey without the leftovers, thus the roasting of the bird while I sit in my writing chair, looking out onto a perfect fallish day, feeling less saddened.

As I move along the mourning path, I realize my journey is a transformation. While the essence of me remains, my life will forever progress without the consistency that was my father. Somewhat adrift, the childhood shores of my past are no longer an isthmus of my present but an island of happiness. As friends who have wandered this winding track have forewarned me, you never really heal but life propels you down new avenues, leading to new joys. This past week I actively sought out the sun, revelling in my family moments, enjoying the hilarity that is us three. 

This girl's happiness stems around a few core items; park benches, leaves on trees, a funny hubby and books. Cramming my loaned copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child into my purse on Friday was the clearest indicator that my world was returning to it's normal levels of weirdness. What grown woman actively arranges her day around  a hard cover book?  While I may have the glorious bragging rights of being a representative of the generation of kids that Strange Things actively attempts to capture through film, my Harry Potter fandom is through the guise of adulthood. Early in my 30s, entrenched in my oversees teaching adventures, I consumed the first three of the series while navigating the windy streets of Istanbul. My copies over the years have slowly been replaced to a lovely bound set that now sits on the bookshelf, waiting for that moment when the little boy in this house begins his magical adventure.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a Jack Thorne screenplay; as such, it is slightly removed from the core 7, all the while maintaining the essence of J.K. Rowling's incredible vision. Clearly blessed by the author, the story advances the lives of the heroes into adulthood and all it's trepidatious meanderings that comes with parenthood. We are introduced to Albus Severus Potter, middle child of Harry and Ginny, troubled tween, reluctant to navigate the future that seems so clearly laid out for him, who finds solace with his only friend. Their adventures takes us down the winding, dark paths that we come to expect with the Harry Potter universe. 

Because Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a script, I was torn as a reader, spending half my time envisioning the play, the other living in a illusionary world. I was not able to rectify the story as a play, wanting Rowling's jovial, abundant words to expand the dialogue into a techno-coloured extravaganza of imagery. Even though my wants were purely a reflection of a reader's desire to sink into a good book, the script still easily sucked me down into Pottermore. I am fan, and thus the target buyer for this play bound book hence leaving me with a slight tinge of regret. 

As a play, Harry Potter and Cursed Child is alive. An offering of delights for the theatre, somewhat childish and predictable but still a must to see. Having now read the script, I have burst that theatrical bubble. The play when it most certainly will sweep through North America will offer less a thrill for me, because I have unveiled it's plot secrets and secured my own perceptions on it's design. Sometimes, a play should just be a play, perfect in it's purpose, not masquerading as a book, unwilling to compromise, keeping the Potter fans queued outside the theatre, and not as it has happened, the bookstore. 

25 September 2016

Haines, Alaska: Looking to the Skies, SF in Hand

As a child, the autumnal beat of summer's demise, signified my grandparents' annual 
migration North to us, who waited impatiently in Whitehorse, Yukon for, beyond our parents, the two people my brother and I could not adore more. And while Ida and Clare Hedegard's destination was family centred, my grandfather Clare had the fishing bug firmly implanted in his brain. With the Chilkoot Lake and river outside of Haines, Alaska teeming with five thriving varieties of salmon, my father and grandfather were on a mission: who would get to the coveted spot first. 

A flat expanse of shield rock, pommeled by retreating glaziers, meters from the shore,
offered the perfect footing to cast off from. The quick river currents that drained from the fjord were teaming with sockeye. The salmon run was my father's and grandfather's delight, our family albums stocked with both happily showcasing their catch of those days. Whomever got down to the slippery bank first, haphazardly making way through the river currents to that rock seemed always to return to camp with the bounty. 

From the high tides of the Bay of Fundy to Grey Mountain over-looking the valley of Whitehorse, my geographically inspired childhood marked me as an outdoors girl. Hard to believe, so firmly now ensconced in the big city lifestyle of Toronto, house firmly nestled inches from it's neighbour, my world-view still sits firmly within the canopy of my backyard maple tree. I prefer outside; as long as there is a stretch of trees, a parcel of blue sky to raise my eyes up to, I am good. Somewhat, the 10-year-old me, firmly nestled in my soul, who waits for Dad to pass the fishing rod so I can scramble down to the fjord banks to try my luck with the Dolly Varden's is thoroughly puzzled with the city buzz. Where is the crispness to the air, the yellow expanses of boreal forests, the high-bush blueberries, the dusting of snow-covered peaks, the expressive talk of the salmon that got away?

The seasonal shift signifies a myriad of emotions for me and with the passing of my dear father this September I keep tightly bound to my memories of joy. As this very sad summer comes to an end, and my stack of detective novels tower beside me, I am happy to report that my SF bug is back. I spent nary a minute reading science fiction, needing the comforting English-inspired murder mystery as anchor to the turbulent waters of grief. Some lean on food, I require fifty whodunnits

And luck be the one who waits, for what came in through the library system this week but Daniel O'Malley's sophomore novel Stiletto. A rather embarrassing gleeful fan of The Rook, with me badgering countless friends to read it, Stiletto is my salvation. A little humour amidst the tears is much needed, and so I tucked into it's large tome post haste. Half read and not willing to simply bypass a proper review I digress, returning to fishing, and all the Dads who baited their daughters' hooks. 

The path of grief is trodden by us all, and as I follow down it's memory laden, saddened grounds, I walk with tears in my eyes, and happiness in my heart. I am the daughter of a great man. As I look to the skies, SF book in hand I shall remember to live my Best life.