An Englishman in New York

Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, New York 1926. Credit:

J K Rowling
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them:
the Original Screenplay

Little, Brown 2016

Stage plays and screenplays are simply another form of text, and whilst it may take some while to adjust to their conventions they remain narratives as much as novels. There is no need to mount a defence of them; the only criterion that matters is whether they stand up as stories in their own right. With the screenplay of Fantastic Beasts made available for the mass market it becomes easier for the ordinary reader to judge whether their interest is maintained and expectations met in the absence of novelistic conventions or whether the presence of technical directions proves a barrier to enjoyment.

My first impression is that this will only make sense to someone who is already familiar with J K Rowling’s wizarding world. Without the whizz-bang-crash of onscreen special effects you’ll need a lot of imagination to picture what, say, ‘Disapparate’ involves. But then, there can’t be many people who haven’t got some inkling of this universe, and they aren’t the people likely to want to pick this book up in the first place.

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