It happened on a dark night, somewhere in the middle of Book IV. For three years, I had dutifully read the "Harry Potter" series to my daughter, my voice growing raspy with the effort, page after page. But lately, whole paragraphs of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" had started to slip by without my hearing a word. I'd snap back to attention and realize the action had moved from Harry's room to Hagrid's house, and I had no idea what was happening.
And that's when my daughter broke the spell: "Do we have to keep reading this?"
O, the shame of it: a 10-year-old girl and a book critic who had had enough of "Harry Potter." We were both a little sad, but also a little relieved. Although we'd had some good times at Hogwarts, deep down we weren't wild about Harry, and the freedom of finally confessing this secret to each other made us feel like co-conspirators.
Along with changing diapers and supervising geometry homework, reading "Harry Potter" was one of those chores of parenthood that I was happy to do -- and then happy to stop.
Ordinarily, I'd be inclined to give Charles a break because taste is individual and whatnot, but his essay isn't just a personal dissent, but an attack on those who like Harry Potter: He charges that we suffer from "cultural infantilism."
For my own part, of course, guilty as charged. But I'd like to stick up for the rest of you, the legions of reasonably sophisticated people who enjoy Harry Potter.
There's no need for a point-by-point refutation of Charles, since his entire argument for how childish the Harry Potter series is rests on his assertion that he and his daughter were bored by it. QED. So I'll simply suggest that this essay is such a perfectly predictable miniaturization of counter-intuition for its own sake that the only thing surprising or interesting about it is that it didn't run in Slate.