Posted on 4:23 pm,
September 30, 2012

Listen Live
Subscribe on iTunes
Download podcast episode
Podcast RSS Feed

The latest episode of MuggleCast has arrived, and we primarily focus on J.K. Rowling’s new book The Casual Vacancy while discussing her recent interviews.

Note: We do not spoil the story, so don’t worry!

– The Casual Vacancy is here!
– None of the hosts have FINISHED the novel but discuss what they think so far.
– Is the book different than the book that was marketed? What was our impression of what the book would be like from the advertisement (or lack thereof)?
– Are there any Potter references in the book?
– As a novel, do the opening pages grab you?
– Let’s talk about sex.
– Twitter feedback from fans/readers like YOU!
– What has J.K. Rowling said in Interviews so far about the book? What have critics thought?
– Andrew and Eric review the “Perks of Being a Wallflower” movie, newly released.
– John and Bre, makers of “Finding Hogwarts” discuss their fan film, out now on DVD and Blu-Ray!
– Plans to discuss the Casual Vacancy in future MuggleCast episodes.

This episode's hosts: Andrew Sims, Selina Wilken, Micah Tannenbaum, Eric Scull

  • rabbitrabbit

    casual vacancy was so different! i kept yearning for some harry potter magic, but those ending scenes had a magical feeling about them. You can really tell Jo was excited and super into writing them.

    I didn’t find the book all too humourous though (it’s being marketed as a dark comedy :S). But it’s really eye opening and really pulls you into the psyche of being a human and being part of a community.

    • Victoria

      Jo did mention in an interview that she thought calling it a “dark comedy” was off-base. She considered it more of a tragedy or something like that, I couldn’t find the exact quote, unfortunately. But yeah, Jo agreed that “dark comedy” wasn’t the way she would have described it too, and I agree as well.

      • SonickedYou

        She described it as more of being a “comic tragedy”, if my memory serves me right! :)

        • RabbitRabbit

          check out the video about her Q&A on hypable. In it she states that she considers the book a humourous book

          (I can’t include the link or her quote because disqus is identifying it as spam)

          • RabbitRabbit

            search “Video from J.K. Rowling’s live ‘Casual Vacancy’ reading and Q&A now available” it’s at 3:44.

  • Hermione Granger

    Something I wanted to mention–you guys (and a lot of others) said that The Casual Vacancy is a totally different type of book than HP because HP has wizards and witches and horcruxes, while TCV deals with “real life”. I just want to make an important distinction here. The reason HP was so amazing, and so different from other ‘children’s fantasy’ novels is because it DOES deal with real life–especially stuff like politics (Ministry of Magic) and media and the reasons we believe what we believe. I think it resonated with a lot of people because the setting was in some ways, far enough outside of our own that we could all look at the problems in the Wizarding World and say “Oh my god, how could people not thing Voldemort would be back? Why would they believe Fudge?” while not entirely realizing that similar things happen in our own lives all the time. It was an interesting way to get a message across. Basically, though TCV might be set in a more real place, that doesn’t make the messages of it more ‘real’ and that of HP’s less ‘real’.

  • Ryan Wilkinson

    Great episode guys! I thought TCV was pretty good, it didn’t blow me away but it was well written and definitely thought-provoking.

  • Chris

    Thanks for the new episode guys! Can’t wait to listen, but midterms are killing me right now :(

  • Jason

    I haven’t finished it either, but I’ve admittedly been rushing through it a bit just so I could get to this episode. Now I can sit back and take my time with J.K. Rowling’s adverbs.

    • Jenny Leigh

      I totally was too, and now that I know they’re not finished I feel like I can slow down :p

  • Kate

    Wow, Selina, this is a story “that didn’t need to be told”? And “there is no story there at all”? I respectfully disagree. I’m nearly through with the book, and The Casual Vacancy has explored so much about current politics and timeless human nature….to me, that’s always the type of story worth telling, especially when told by a writer as skilled as Jo. I applaud her being able to write a story so radically different from Harry Potter, knowing how so many fans wouldn’t “get it” or feel connected to it. Sure, it’s bleak, but I think the prose sparkles and the characters are very vivid and the issues very relevant and worthy of a novel.
    The review in Time magazine closest lines up with my viewpoint.

    • Kate

      Also, kind of condescending of Andrew to tell how he thinks JKR “should have” handled her post-Potter career. She can write whatever she damn well pleases. No need to make baby steps away from young adult toward adult.
      I don’t think the book was marketed wrongly – every description I read of it stated very clearly that it is an ADULT novel. All the blurbs mentioned politics, sex, etc.

      • Megan Slife

        So.. a podcast is where people share their opinions.. if you don’t like them, don’t listen. Andrew or Selina can say whatever they please seeing as it is their podcast. Just saying.

        • Kate

          I like the podcast, that’s why I listen. But I don’t have to agree with their opinions or only respond to what I agree with. They can say whatever they please, and I can respond however I like.

    • Selina

      That’s not exactly what I meant, and if you listened to the rest of the podcast I did do my best to backtrack on that point later – what I was trying to say wasn’t that there was no story, but that it wasn’t a story that I personally found worth reading, or got anything out of. The plot of the Casual Vacancy, of ordinary people reacting ordinarily to an ordinary man’s death, doesn’t add anything to my life I couldn’t get from going outside and seeing how depressing and monotonous real life is. This book is real life transferred directly onto the pages of a book, and that takes HUGE literary skill on JK Rowling’s part, I’m not saying it doesn’t. But that doesn’t mean I’ll find that the novel speaks to me personally or that I have to enjoy it.

      The novel exemplifies life itself, no details spared or harsh truths glossed over, and therefore it holds a lot of value as a piece of social commentary. But that’s not what I’m looking for in a book – I find it much more worthwhile to explore real life through the lens of some kind of exciting plot or fantastical setting, as opposed to through no lens at all. That’s what I was trying to say.

      • Kate

        I listened to the rest of the podcast, and I understand now what you’re saying. I think that JKR’s writing elevates the story and it is exciting to me – I find it difficult to put down. I see glimpses of people I know in several characters, and the commentary on human nature helps me look inward and analyze my own motivations and flaws. I guess I don’t need a fantastical setting or huge good vs. evil plot to grab me, but I recognize that’s not everyone’s taste.

        • Selina

          I’m glad you’re enjoying it :) It definitely is a taste issue as opposed to a quality one!

    • Laurie

      People just have to deal with the fact that JK Rowling isn’t going to spend the rest of her life writing Harry Potter books. It’s the fault of Harry Potter fans trying to shoehorn Jo into the role of a fantasy only author, and their own expectations that TCV would be similar to HP. I think writing The Casual Vacancy was a good thing for Jo. She’s proving that she isn’t limited to fantasy. Nobody seems to have a problem with the Harry Potter actors doing the same in their acting careers. Daniel Radcliffe goes from bespectacled wizard boy to naked on stage in Equus. Nobody wants to be typecast. As to the “lack of marketing”, The Casual Vacancy was never marketed towards Harry Potter fans. It was made very clear from the start that this was Jo’s first ADULT novel. Harry Potter fans were given plenty of warning that this book was not going to be anything like Harry Potter, but if they kept expecting it anyways as they read, well, no wonder they were disappointed.

    • Laurie

      So Kate, I completely agree with you.

  • ladybirds

    I am not going to listen to this episode until I finish the book, and I liked it so far. :-)

  • Jon

    Im in the middle of the book and so far i enjoy it alot. After each chapter there is always something that Jo writes that makes me stop reading and just sit there and think about. its like a little gem at the end of the chapter. Although it might not be as exciting as HP, it is still thought provoking and interesting. JKR has DEFINITELY proved herself with this book. The writing in it is AMAZING and the story is told beautifully. Im sure all of you will appreciate the book when you read the end because Its supposed to be really good.

  • greg

    Hey Selina, I’d appreciate it if U could do a spoiler-free review of AVPSY at leakycon for all us starkids who couldn’t be there. Thanks!

  • Tran Nguyen

    I haven’t read the book. I eventually will just because Jo is the author, but it never appealed to me at all, ever since the synopsis was released. This episode was great though, but sort of confirmed that it’s not exactly my cup of tea. I’ll still read it one day. Maybe it’ll prove me wrong.

  • Martrel A. Howard

    First, the marketing was deliberately minuscule for the simple fact that they clearly didn’t want the “harry potter fanfare”. Secondly it was clearly denoted as being an “Adult Novel”. We knew this wasn’t fantasy, we knew it was a political drama. Why are you mad that she as an author, who can do whatever she wants to do wrote a book like this. You didn’t have to buy it or read it. From the synopsis you could have decided if you found the plot interesting or not. My only issue with The Casual Vacancy isn’t the story itself, my problem is the price of the book, it is quite overpriced even for a new release.

    • RabbitRabbit

      I also think it’s important to note that if they marketed the book the way the hosts suggest (i.e. only for adults, not for harry potter fans, focusing on that it is non-magical non-fantasy slow plot, etc) it will discourage people to buy the book and hinder the profit they receive. With the limited marketing, it ensures that many people of various backgrounds and ages went out and bought the book, even if they didn’t ultimately enjoy it.
      I’m assuming Little Brown was banking on pre-orders and release-date purchases. Therefore bad reviews, although they may have hurt purchases down the line, didn’t hurt the bulk of the profit (which was pre-orders and release-date purchases)

  • Jackijd

    Great episode :D

  • Enz Millick

    Hey Guys,

    I am around 160 pages into The Casual Vacancy, and I must say that I am enjoying it very much. I find it to be both thought provoking and entertaining; Rowling has a lot of insight on the way people’s minds work and it really comes through in this novel. I realize that this book is not for everybody, and that some people are bound to disagree with me, but I thought I’d share my opinion.

    I just finished listening to your little Casual Vacancy chat, and somewhere along the way you brought up the opinion that Rowing should have, “worked her way up to this book”, and that she perhaps should have done something in the fantasy genre. Also, you said that maybe if her adult books don’t sell well, she’ll go back to Harry Potter. Guys, lets face it. Rowling does not give a crap what you, me, or my grandmother thinks of this book. She’s the most successful author of all time, she doesn’t need to sell more books to make a living. She’s just writing whatever her creative mind wants her to write, and personally I think that she should be allowed to do this. I would be very sad if she stopped writing what she wanted to because a bunch of whiny Harry Potter fans wanted to go back to Hogwarts. She deserves a break. Just my opinion.

    Been listening for two years and love the show, keep it up guys!

    • Clayton

      I agree 100%. I haven’t read the book, and I don’t intend to, but I know enough about it to take away that is very dark and unsettling, but that’s how J.K. Rowling intended it. Like you said, she probably doesn’t care what some fans stuck in Harry Potter say. She moved on from Harry, and I think that fans should too. Not necessarily give up on Harry Potter, but realize that sometimes people want to do what they want in life and not feed other people’s needs, but their own. I, personally am happy that Jo is moving on and writing what she wants, even if it’s not the type of book I like to read.

  • Victoria

    I just finished the book last night, and VERY surprisingly, I really enjoyed it! I did cry at the end; I closed the book feeling fine and then immediately burst unexpectedly into tears. It was VERY bleak, bitter, and raw, which I really thought would put me off. I was very worried I wouldn’t like this book, and I was quite surprised when I started reading and found myself not wanting to put it down. I did have the same feeling that one of the hosts (I don’t remember which) had, that I basically forgot that the book was by Jo while I was reading it. It made it a little easier to accept how completely and absolutely different it was from what I was used to. It’s almost a total departure from what I normally read.

    While I greatly enjoyed the book, I do admit that it’s not for everyone, not by a long shot. I have several friends who I’ve told not to read it because I know for a fact that they won’t enjoy it at all.

    I do find myself hoping that other people I know will hurry up and read/finish it, because I really would like to talk to them about it and discover their opinions.

    I don’t think anyone’s mentioned this sort of thing yet, but Krystal Weedon is definitely my favorite character, followed by some mix of Andrew, Tessa, and Kay. I can’t stand any of the Mollisons or Fats Wall. Anyone else have favorites and least favorites??

    • rabbitrabbit

      I actually heard Jo’s voice in my head as I was reading. Specially the climatic scene, where everyone is in the same location experiencing the ‘scene’ (I don’t want to mention spoilers, but I’m sure you know which scene I’m talking about).
      The point in which I felt Jo’s magic starting was when she said Gavin saw a little boy sitting on the bench. From that point I realized what Jo was doing and what she was setting up, and I sat up and read more intently taking in every description.

      (wouldn’t that scene be Perfect for a movie! )

  • Nicole Soor

    Did anyone else have any problems with audio for long parts during john and bre’s finding hogwarts interview?

  • guest777

    I really enjoyed listening to this episode, One of the best for a very long time indeed.
    I haven’t started reading the book yet as I have another that I need to finish. (Yup its Fifty shades) But i’m eager to start reading it as I want to know what My opinion is.

  • Ben

    I’m not a frequent listener, but I’ve certainly enjoyed what I have heard in the past. Indeed, I follow a number of the presenters on Twitter, as you can all be entertaining and relatable. But for me, this was certainly not the case in this podcast.

    A few seconds into the audio from the start of the novel, the listeners were of course greeted by ‘This is riveting.’ What can I say other than your attention span is awe-inspiring… Out of interest, if there’d been an American reader, would you have interrupted? Anyhow, the whole gang proceeded to talk over the extract, rendering it useless, with some *very* insightful comments about its similarity to various TV networks. I think you may have given me some idea of what the NBC coverage of the 2012 Olympics was like. Another great quote was ‘I feel like I’m learning to speak French right now.’ Slightly cryptic, I understand you were saying listening was tedious. Some people on this planet are English, I’m afraid.

    I apologise for the rather negative feedback there, but I wanted to give it. Just like Jo Rowling wanted to write The Casual Vacancy, a book which may not appeal to The Harry Potter Fan per se, but does it matter? Adults and teens alike who have no intentions to ever delve into the Potter series could well be attracted by this wonderfully observed work about real life. I love experiencing the different perspectives of each character in such a relatable, life-like manner. I believe it was Andrew who brought up the truthfulness of Jo’s observations on school life, but ultimately all of you were turned away by TCV’s lack of ‘story’. Selina talks of the ‘insignificant people’ in the novel, which strikes me as odd. I guess it comes down to one’s approach to reading and storytelling as a whole. Does Selina (or any of the other hosts) need a character do to truly remarkable things while they exist on the page for them to appeal to her? The broad spectrum of characters living in Pagford are no more going to vanquish a sorcerer than you or I. But does that mean their lives don’t deserve being written about? I don’t think so.

    I might suggest your difficulty in being unable to read it without constantly comparing and contrasting it to Potter (which is understandable, you devote a large amount of time to discussing HP) affected your outlook on the book. But readers have to accept that while Harry Potter and The Casual Vacancy are the creations of one wonderful lady, they aren’t the same. And in my mind, that’s something to embrace.

  • YuvalTheVal

    Guys, all I have to say is- KEEP READING. i’m sure you’ll change your opinion (excpect for selina, maybe). everybody I know either gave up on it- or LOVED it.

  • anonymous

    This might have already been said but I think your review of the book would have been much better and more informative if you had finished the book before criticizing it.

  • ladybirds

    Andrew said “it felt almost like a Harry potter book release.”

    I think that the people who did not like the book made a mistake by expecting this book to be like a Harry Potter book just because she wrote it. I agree about the lack of publicity. They should have emphasized how it covered drug, sex, violence, bullying etc etc. It might have clued some of the readers.

    I loved the book. My most favorite genre is fantasy but I love this kind of books too. They are difficult to read, and does not make you happy. Therefore I tend to read them less and when I feel most happy. But there is reality in them. I never knew people like Krystal Weedon or her mum. So the story made me realise or reminded me again there are people like her and/or her mum, felt really sorry for them. It is obvious there are reasons people end up like that. You learn why Tess end up like that in the story for example.

    I agree the story starts slow and you feel like there are a lot of characters but as you read ahead you get used to them and learn more details about their lives. Some of them disgusted me, I terrified for some of the children, as a parent I felt angry how some of them treated their children, as a human I felt ashamed by some of their inhumanity.

    The end made me cry a lot. I was so angry to the two women who did nothing to stop someone because of their selfishness (this is as best as I could write without giving any spoilers).

    Sorry I jumped from there to there. I wanted to write a lot more things but I do not remember what were they. However, I hope you guys finished it by now. It gets much more interesting.

    • ladybirds

      P.S. I smelled it after I bought it. :-D Because I have been reading ebooks for the last 3 years, I missed the smell of a printed book. :-D

  • Jaskins811

    I want Ben and Jaime back!!!

  • ayh85

    I loved Casual Vacancy. I believe that this book was very raw and I would strongly recommend it. It shows how really f’ed up the world is because the people apart of it are so selfish. Even the “do gooders” have completely messed up lives behind closed doors; no matter what someone always gets neglected/hurt. Point of the story…everything we do has consequences and if we don’t open our eyes and communicate we will loose our humanity. Pagford will never change, but we have a chance to change ourselves only if we have the courage to admit we are flawed.

Hypable encourages the community to use our Comments feature to hold thoughtful, polite, and critical discussions. We do NOT tolerate inappropriate, rude, or downright mean discussion towards the news story's subject matter or towards other Hypable users. We reserve the right to delete or ban comments and users who violate these guidelines.