Friday, February 23, 2007

"I Just Like To Think About What I'm Reading. Don't You?"

The line above is from Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I finally took the book off my TBR shelf earlier this week and am about halfway through it. It's a book for people who like to think about what they're reading.

Wicked's subtitle is "The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West." It is most definitely an adult spin and variation on The Wizard of Oz. And not just because there are sex scenes.

Wicked deals with the nature of good and evil, the nature of the soul. Just for a couple of things. The book has its own theology, created for the land of Oz, but with winks to our contemporary world. A pleasure faith? And of early adherents to a more austere religion, Elphaba (the wicked witch) says, "Some said the original evil was the vacuum caused by the Fairy Queen Lurline leaving us alone here. When goodness removes itself, the space it occupies corrodes and becomes evil, and maybe splits apart and multiplies. So every evil thing is a sign of the absence of deity."

I mention that because I've read a Christian description of sin as being the absence of God, a concept, I must admit, that pretty much shoots over my head. But it did seem similar to what Elphaba had been reading.

Our wicked witch, by the way, is the daughter of a minister. How cool is that? She also, at mid-point, is a revolutionary. Maguire's Oz isn't all sunshine and lollipops.

My only knowledge of The Wizard of Oz is the movie, so I don't know how much this book refers to the original series of Oz books. As far as I'm concerned, I don't need to know the references. Wicked is a complex, well-done world without my knowing much of the background at all.

It also has a map.

And don't think it's all dry theology and politics.

"I don't read very well. So I don't think I think very well either." Galinda smiled. "I dress to kill, though."

I do love this kind of revisionist literature.


Michele said...

Right. I'll have to borrow this back from the library. I had it out about a month ago, but then writing fiction took control of my brain and I decided I wasn't going to get around to reading it... I shall now make the effort...

Gail Gauthier said...

I think you'll find it worth it. It's pretty sophisticated stuff. Not a fast read, but it's still entertaining.

Michele said...

That's OK - I don't need fast reads at the moment (though I've got a stack of short novels on my TBR !).

lili said...

The musical is UNREAL. Quite different to the book, and some book-purists don't like that, but you know. A musical is a very different beast to a book.

I actually prefer a lot of the musical. The characters feel a lot more developed, even though they're simplified.

Anyway. Get the soundtrack, it will make you cry.