Maguire's WICKED: I don't get it

I received Gregory Maguire’s Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West for Christmas. It came highly recommended by several people whose opinions and intelligence I respect, but I had a very difficult time finishing it as it’s just a very implausible premise that requires enormous suspension of disbelief even moreso than most fantasies.

I’m not a huge fan of the fantasy genre to begin with (though I would count the SANDMAN comics among my favorite reading in any genre) and perhaps part of the problem was I was expecting something light-hearted or satirical in nature and it was neither. For comparison (for those who haven’t read it), imagine a novel set in The World of Make-Believe from the Mr. Rogers show in which King Friday, a “puppet king” who serves full-sized human masters, has ordered all non-human looking puppets to report for registration as meanwhile Lady Elaine Fairchild is poisoning the queen through incantation and Daniel Striped Bear is plotting the assassination of Prince Tuesday to avenge the registration of animal puppets.

Also, two of the book’s most important bits

Elfaba’s green skin and her allergy to water

are never explained.

I’m curious to read what others thought of this book. Did you like it overall, and why or why not?

PS- The sheol? I haven’t used that Simsons line as a signature in well over a year.

I think that would rock :cool:

Seriously, if that’s the reason that you don’t like it, then you’ll just have to settle for not liking it.

Sampiro, I didn’t “get” it either, though it passed the time pleasantly enough. Gregory Maguire seems a decent writer, so I tried Confessions of An Ugly Stepsister next, but it didn’t do anything for me either. Maybe I’ll give him another shot if he comes out with something that interests me more than Cinderella or TWOZ.

Daniel Striped Tiger. :smiley:

But yeah, I’m with you on this one. I got about 2/3 the way through and… I just couldn’t go any further. I expected more about the weird mystical puppet show and stuff, and it just seemed to meander further and further and not make any sense at all. Very disapointing.

I think this is one of those things where if you don’t get it, it can’t be explained to you. I loved the book. I think this is probably the best one Maguire’s ever written, because Wicked Stepsister and Lost simply did nothing for me.

The secret, for me, is to accept that this is an off-angle take on Oz. The land has a culture, complete with religions and social classes and politics, which is never seen in the Baum books.

And I can’t explain it to you, anymore than I could explain why it’s perfectly logical for a giant constructed world to be both sentient and malignantly inclined toward its inhabitants (Varney’s Titan series) or why an immortal spirit of evil periodically needs to torment and kill children (King’s It). If you don’t get it, you don’t get it.

I liked Wicked a lot on first reading it, but when I recently started to reread it, the prose seemed self-consciously dense and pretentious. I think initially I was just impressed by the hutzpah involved in taking a well-known and beloved fantasy milieu like Oz – another writer’s creation – and putting a different spin on it. Also, I was glad to find I wasn’t the only reader who thought the Wizard was the most sinister character in Baum’s book.

(Incidentally, I wonder if I’m the only adult male who watched the movie The Wizard of Oz for the first time since childhood and suddenly thought, “You know, that Wicked Witch is kind of hot!” Possibly.)

Forgot to add – Sometimes, if you don’t get it, you don’t get it. But sometimes, if you don’t get it, the writer didn’t do his job well enough.

I enjoyed Wicked when I read it a few years back. I recently read Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, and thought it was a book that pretended to be more deep than it was, and didn’t find it all that interesting.

I have a feeling Maguire’s books are all going to be the same. He had one burst of creativity in Wicked and made Confessions a totally uninspired duplicate.

I grew up seeing her as the old lady on the Folger’s coffee commercials, so to me lust for her would be kinda “like kissin’ granny when she slips you the tongue”.

I always found Ozma to be the most sinister. Baum made his bad characters straight-up bad (so, really, no surprises there), but I always thought–even as a kid–that Ozma was one tightening of the magic belt away from snapping and letting the sands from the Deadly Desert sweep in and take out every single one of 'em.