J.K. Rowling made some news when she admitted to Emma Watson in an interview that she now believes that Hermione Granger should have been romantically paired with Harry Potter, rather than Ron Weasley.
Speaking to the actress who brought Hermione to cinematic life, Rowling called the Ron/Hermione coupling "a form of wish fulfillment." She said, "For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron."
This piece first ran in Printers Row Journal, delivered to Printers Row members with the Sunday Chicago Tribune and by digital edition via email. Click here to learn about joining Printers Row.
It's worth noting that fan fiction writers have been hooking up Harry and Hermione for years, not to mention Harry and Ron, and in some of the racier rewrites, Harry, Hermione and Ron.
Rowling isn't the first author to believe she got her own story a little bit wrong. Maybe she's even tempted to rewrite it. I don't know how much her readers would appreciate it, but on behalf of the publishing industry and the entire retail economy let me say, "yes, please."
It's not an altogether crazy notion. There's actually a long and distinguished history of authors taking books that are already really popular and going back in for revisions in subsequently published versions.
The 1823 version of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" that most of us are familiar with is significantly revised from the original edition of 1818 that was published anonymously.
Stephen King restored hundreds of pages of cuts to "The Stand" for its 1990 rerelease. Presumably, King acquired enough clout subsequent to the book's initial 1978 publication to put out the novel in any way he well pleased.
Tolkien altered "The Hobbit" to make it more consistent with "The Lord of the Rings." In 1991, Robert Heinlein's heirs restored cuts of material from "Stranger in a Strange Land" that had been judged objectionable in 1961.
But my favorite rewrite story is John Fowles' "The Magus." Thanks to the Meryl Streep-starring film adaptation, Fowles is probably most remembered for "The French Lieutenant's Woman," but upon its initial publication in 1965, "The Magus" was an international best-seller, a kind of instant cult classic. It's the story of Nicholas Urfe a young Englishman adrift who finds himself teaching at a prep school on an exotic Greek island. He falls under the spell of a local, rich recluse, Maurice Conchis, a cross between Howard Hughes and Aristotle Onassis.
From there, things get … freaky. The events of the novel are sort of impossible to summarize other than to say fantasy and reality start to blend, and Nicholas engages in a lot of weird, erotic sexy time.
My best friend in graduate school bought me a copy of the novel for my 25th birthday because I was the same age as Urfe.
More than a decade later, after securing his reputation, prior to a re-release of "The Magus," Fowles decided to rewrite it from beginning to end. In the introduction, he makes it clear that the revisions are not meant to address any criticisms. All of the sins reviewers identified in the original they'll see repeated. While it was the third novel he published, it was the first he started, and he believed that the original text had too strong a scent of juvenilia. Even so, of the revised version he remarked, that it's "a novel of adolescence written by a retarded adolescent."
Maybe this is why it captivated me at first reading. I must have identified with the sentiment as a not-so-young person, not yet sure how to be an adult.
I haven't reread the novel, but I treasure that battered mass-market copy from my friend.
Biblioracle John Warner is author of "The Funny Man." Follow him on Twitter @Biblioracle.
The Biblioracle offers his recommendations
1. "Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
2. "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak
3. "Life After Life" by Kate Atkinson
4. "The Woman Upstairs" by Claire Messud
5. "The Silver Star" by Jeanette Walls
Joy B., Crystal Lake
Mrs. Biblioracle is looking over my shoulder and saying I should recommend "The Invention of Wings" by Sue Monk Kidd, but I haven't read it, and besides, it's an Oprah book and I like to operate at a higher degree of difficulty than parroting the recommendations of the most successful book recommender in the history of recommending. This pick is a bit of a risk because this is not an author for everybody, but I think it works for Joy, "The Stranger's Child" by Alan Hollinghurst
1. "The Game of Kings" by Dorothy Dunnett
2. "Handling Sin" by Michael Malone
3. "The Blackhouse" by Peter May
4. "How the Light Gets In" by Louise Penny
5. "Life After Life" by Kate Atkinson
Sharon W., Blue Island
This is a tough one. History, mystery, romance and to make it more difficult, Sharon tells me she's already read Hilary Hillary Mantel, which, as she suspects, is the obvious place to go. So I'm recommending another British author of significant stature, A.S. Byatt and "The Children's Book."
1. "The Bully Pulpit" by Doris Kearns Goodwin
2. "Johnny Cash: The Life" by Robert Hilburn
3. "Breakdown" by Sara Paretsky
4. "The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth" by Leigh Montville
5. "The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern
Betsy E., Flossmoor
Another eclectic mix, though a definite biographical focus. I'm going to split the difference and go with a biographical novel with solid Chicago roots, Nancy Horan's exploration of Frank Lloyd Wright through the voice of his lover, Mamah Borthwick Cheney, "Loving Frank."
Get a reading from the Biblioracle!
Send your last five books to firstname.lastname@example.org. Write "Biblioracle" in the subject line.