Wicked, take two, the book versus the musical

Apparently I first read Wicked before I started blogging about books. But I recently reread it because Matthew and I went to see the musical last month. And…

… I didn’t like it as much as I did the first time. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the book but I kind of wish I hadn’t been immersed it when we saw the show. I got distracted by the changes, which are substantial. The subtitle of the musical is “The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz” so it’s much more Glinda-heavy than the book is. I honestly prefer Elphaba, I love the moral ambiguity of Elphaba.

I just discovered when I went looking for the link to post to the book that Maguire has written a third volume in the series: A Lion Among Men, which is the story of the cowardly lion. Given that I didn’t love Son of a Witch, though, I might give it a pass.

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The Chronicles of Narnia

I can’t count the number of times I’ve read the first several Narnia books.  In fact, I’m quite certain that I’ve read all of them except The Last Battle more times than fingers.  I’m quite certain that I have only read The Last Battle three times.

When I was a kid I of course didn’t see the Christian allegory in these books.  Why would I have?  And really, it’s most present in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Magician’s Nephew, and The Last Battle.  Then I read them during college and felt like I’d been slapped in the face with it.

Now, having once again read the whole series front to back, I don’t feel slapped in the face with it.  It’s there, but it’s integrated so well into the fantasy of Narnia in general that… well, I can overlook it.  I still love the fantasy of it; The Horse and His Boy is still my favorite of the books.  And I can’t wait until the kid is old enough to appreciate them so we can read them together.

The Little House Books

When we were in OK over Thanksgiving, one of my tasks was to clean out the various boxes in my childhood room, as my parents are getting ready for retirement and that includes selling the house and moving to a different state.

I knew there were lots of children’s books in those boxes.  This included my box set of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, which I distinctly remember saving my allowance for for a LONG TIME so that I could buy it at the school book fair.  I think it cost me $24.  And so I set about re-reading all of them, which took me a grand total of about 10 days.

And they’re exactly as I remember them.  As an adult who loathes moving, I’m kind of in awe of Pa’s wanderlust, and of Ma’s tolerance of it.  There were a couple of things I picked up on that I would never have noticed as a kid – in Little House in the Big Woods, Pa sings a song about a “darky”.  On a similar note, I remember wondering as a kid why there was never any mention of the Civil War in any of the books.  Maybe it just didn’t enter the consciousness of folks living in the woods of Wisconsin?

I can’t wait to read these with my own daughter, and see what her very 21st-century mind makes of a world so very different from her own.

Charles Frazier: Cold Mountain

I am NOT a reader of the Civil War novel, not at all.  But we had a copy of Cold Mountain lying around the house and I picked it up.  and then I was completely unable to put it down.  It’s not so much a Civil War novel as it is a novel about two separate journeys.  Inman is trying to get home, Ada is trying to figure out how to be independent when all the odds are stacked against her.  And it’s not clear whether either of them will be successful.

I loved the way Frazier told the two stories along parallel tracks, and kept you wondering exactly how they were going to come together.  You knew they would, but exactly what would happen was, to me at least, a little mysterious.  The ending was so subtle… I held out hope that I might have leaped to the wrong conclusion until halfway through the epilogue, when I sat and counted on my fingers who was sitting down to dinner.  I held out hope in a way that I don’t think either Ada or Inman would have.  But then, I’m not on the same type of journey that they were on.

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The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

I grabbed Michael Chabon’s The Mysteries of Pittsburgh off of the library shelf three weeks ago. I was actually hoping for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, but it wasn’t there. I read Summerland years ago and loved it, so the combination of that and the reputation of Kavalier & Clay, made me feel confident taking a chance on his first novel.

Unfortunately I didn’t make notes of my thoughts when I finished the book, but I can say that I LOVED IT. I was totally engrossed in the characters, in the internal processes of Art, the mystery that is Cleveland (and oh, did he live up to the hype when he did show up!), the sexual tension, the insanity…

Definitely recommended.

(And, ooh, they made a movie of it, too, to be released this year!)

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1984

Somehow I made it to the ripe old age of 31 before reading 1984. Clearly this is a failing of my high school education. (Let’s blame my AP English teacher who had us reading Othello, Lear, and The Inferno instead.)

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