I picked up J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy at Palm Springs Airport yesterday afternoon, before boarding my flight to Salt Lake City, and then on to New Orleans. The book is billed as Rowling’s first novel for adult readers.
The first line, "Barry Fairbrother did not want to go out to dinner," reminded me of the first line of Flannery O'Connor's short story, A Good Man is Hard to Find, "The grandmother did not want to go to Florida." Curiously, in short order, both Barry Fairbrother and the grandmother were dead.
A number of the characters in The Casual Vacancy seem familiar, not because I've read Rowling before, which I haven't; I've never read Harry Potter or seen the movies. Rowling's characters in The Casual Vacancy have some of the same moral qualities as O'Connor's characters, who I'm very familiar with. For example, Fats Walls reminds me of Hazel Moats in O'Connor's Wise Blood. Or, Shirley Mollison, who reminds me of Ruby Turpin in O'Connor's Revelation.
I've only just begun The Casual Vacancy, but I'm drawn into the complex characters and their relationships to each other.