How Austin proves that Harry Potter still has power

Harry Potter & the Cursed Child Midnight Release Party on Saturday, July 30 2016.  Erika Rich for American-Statesman
Harry Potter & the Cursed Child Midnight Release Party on Saturday, July 30 2016.
Erika Rich for American-Statesman

Now that we’ve had a few days to recover from the shock of actually receiving a new “Harry Potter” book – and to finish reading it and digest that wondrous plot – we can conclude that, after all these years, the Harry Potter series is still beloved.

At the midnight release party BookPeople threw Saturday for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” about 2,000 people showed up to celebrate the bespectacled wizard and his new adventure. That’s a considerable turnout given that we all thought we’d officially hung up our wizards’ robes for such a party many years ago.

» See more photos from BookPeople’s midnight release party for “The Cursed Child”

BookPeople’s marketing director, Abby Fennewald, said Tuesday evening that the response to the book “was probably higher than we originally anticipated.” The Austin bookstore sold about 75 percent as many copies of “The Cursed Child” at this party as compared to previous midnight release parties, she said; “We’ve already sold over 1,000 copies.”

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is a book in script form about Harry and his troubled son, Albus. (The play is currently in production at London’s West End.) Despite the different format from the previous novels, anxiously waiting Muggles appeared in droves at BookPeople and at Barnes & Noble as well for the release. BookPeople dusted off its old Diagon Alley set and had a variety of magical activities for attendees, including a costume contest, a House Cup Tournament, trivia and wizard dueling.

Harry Potter & the Cursed Child Midnight Release Party on Saturday, July 30 2016.  Erika Rich for American-Statesman
Harry Potter & the Cursed Child Midnight Release Party on Saturday, July 30 2016.
Erika Rich for American-Statesman

And the food trucks joining the fun in the parking lot also didn’t miss out on the theme: Amy’s Ice Creams, for one, was serving up three wizard-worthy flavors, including butterbeer, Gryffindor’s Tower with red velvet and Dementor’s Cloud with dark chocolate. The line to get butterbeer in drink form at another trailer was also long.

Chatter all around BookPeople’s “Harry Potter” party reflected how happy everyone was to be back together, costumed in their finest Hogwarts’ wizard robes. Kids were there, sure, but the majority of the crowd congregating from 10 p.m. to midnight were the original “Harry Potter” fans, now in their 20s, 30s and beyond.

And for BookPeople, all those enthusiastic fans meant the party was a rousing success.

Has “Cursed Child” turned out to be a worthy follow-up to the original story? Let us know in the comments. And don’t forget to check out our photo gallery chronicling the “Harry Potter” party at BookPeople.

‘City on Fire’ event at BookPeople; it’s a biggie

BookPeople will be hosting one of the fall’s hottest young authors – Garth Risk Hallberg — at 7 p.m. Thusday Oct. 22.

He’s the author of the massive “City on Fire,” which is being released this month and is considered one of the biggest literary events of the year. Knopf reportedly paid about $2 million for the manuscript, and is rolling out a publicity juggernaut.

Nearly everyone is raving, including the Washington Post and Kirkus Reviews.

Here’s part of what Kirkus says about the book:

“Rough-edged mid-1970s New York provides the backdrop for an epic panorama of musicians, writers, and power brokers and the surprising ways they connect.

“New Year’s Eve 1976: Sam, a fanzine author and hanger-on in the Manhattan punk scene, abandons her plan to attend a concert and instead heads to Central Park, where she’s later discovered shot and clinging to life. Why’d she head uptown? Who shot her? Thereby hangs a remarkably assured, multivalent tale that strives to explore multiple strata of Manhattan life with photographic realism.”

With more than 900 pages at his disposal, Hallberg gives his characters plenty of breathing room, but the story never feels overwritten, and the plotlines interlace without feeling pat.”

We’ll run a full review of the novel on Sunday, Oct. 25.

Garth Risk Hallberg. Credit: Mark Vessey
Garth Risk Hallberg. Credit: Mark Vessey

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Elvis Costello coming to BookPeople Oct. 20

June 19, 2014: ATLANTA -- Elvis Costello solo performance at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. (Akili-Casundria Ramsess/Special to the AJC)
June 19, 2014: ATLANTA — Elvis Costello solo performance at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. (Akili-Casundria Ramsess/Special to the AJC)

Elvis Costello will discuss his new memoir, “Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink,” at 7 p.m. Oct. 20 at BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd.

The acclaimed musician will be in conversation with Evan Smith. Tickets, which are available at BookPeople, are required for the event and include a presigned copy of the memoir.

The memoir tracks his rise to music success and tells stories about his co-writers. But it also includes details about the less-appealing side of musical fame.

He also discusses the process or writing and recording such legendary albums like “My Aim Is True,” “This Year’s Model,” “Almost Blue,” “Imperial Bedroom” and “King of America.”

BookPeople’s event with Elvis Costello is one of several major author events hosted by the Austin store this fall. Events with John Irving, Mitch Albom, Nigella Lawson, Jonathan Franzen, Mary Karr, Chelsea Clinton and many others have already been announced. Visit bookpeople.com for a full calendar of upcoming events.

Tidbits from the Austin book scene

PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 20. American writer Jonathan Franzen poses during a portrait session held on September 20, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Ulf Andersen/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE – SEPTEMBER 20. American writer Jonathan Franzen poses during a portrait session held on September 20, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Ulf Andersen/Getty Images)

Several big events are coming up in books, including the Texas Teen Book Festival (September) and the Texas Book Festival on the Capitol grounds (October).

But we have lots of other prominent authors coming to town soon.

One of the biggest will be Jonathan Franzen, who’ll be at BookPeople at 7 p.m. Sept. 19. His latest is “Purity,” and it’s getting great reviews. Kirkus gives it a star, and those don’t come easily. Tickets are required for the signing.

We’ll publish the Kirkus piece the Sunday before Franzen’s appearance.

“Purity” deals with youthful idealism, extreme fidelity and murder, with a cast of characters that include good and bad parents, journalsits and leakers.

Three Austin authors, meanwhile, have new paperback releases coming up for their fine books: Elizabeth McCracken’s “Thunderstruck,” Amanda Eyre Ward’s “Under the Same Sky” and Elizabeth Crook’s “Monday, Monday.”

McCracken, meanwhile, is a big fan of another new book, “A Manual for Cleaning Women,” by Lucia Berlin. As is McCracken’s wont, she’s been tweeting about it and was quoted in a New York Times story.

Berlin died in 2004 at 68, and most critics consider her to be way-underappreciated. The new collection of her short stories was edited by Stephen Emerson and has a foreword by Lydia Davis. It’s a gritty volume, with a lot of caustic humor.

Chelsea Clinton coming to Austin for book signing

Chelsea Clinton ItsYourWorld cover

Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, will be signing her new book, “It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going,” at 7 p.m. Oct. 8 at BookPeople

Tickets are required for the signing and are available only with the purchase of a copy of the book from BookPeople. Books and tickets are now available to pre-order via www.bookpeople.com.

In the book, Chelsea Clinton uses charts, photographs and stories to give readers an understanding of the world and how readers can make a difference.

Sandra Brown coming to BookPeople Aug. 20

sandra2012-head

Arlington writer Sandra Brown, who’s one of the best-known romantic suspense writers, will be reading from her latest, “Friction,” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20, at BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd.

Brown has had 67 New York Times best-sellers, with more than 80 million copies of her books in print.

“Friction” focuses on Crawford Hunt, a Texas Ranger who wants his daughter back after losing custody.

Crawford went into a spiral after his wife’s death four years ago, but wants to get custody of 5-year-old Georgia back from her grandparents.

Judge Holly Spencer will rule on the custody battle. And Holly is wary of Crawford’s past. But when a gunman storms into the courtroom during the custody hearing, Crawford saves Holly from a bullet.

But the gunman escapes and Crawford tries to catch the person. Complications ensue, endangering Crawford’s custody hearing.

Wristbands are required to join the BookPeople signing line and are available at BookPeople beginning 9 a.m. Aug. 20.