• Oziana

    19 November, 2012 • 3 Comments

    I greatly enjoyed Gregory Maguire’s Wicked.

    I am by no means an Oz aficionado. I have vague memories of checking the Norwegian translation of the original Oz book out of the library as a child, but I have no memories of actually reading it, so it cannot have made a big impact. I actually just bought a copy of the book in English the other day, on account of finding it at a bargain, but I haven’t read it yet.

    I do recall the film, of course. You know the one I’m talking about, I doubt I need to specify further.  I don’t recall when I first saw it, but I’m fairly sure it was somewhere in childhood. It was never a big favourite, but I appreciate it for what it is now. Still doesn’t add up to a big Oz interest though.

    That came with Wicked. Which is a bit sad, I suppose, that it takes a drastic reimagining to make me take notice. Really, though, it is a testament to the quality storytelling Maguire pulled off in that book. It really was an excellent novel.

    I didn’t care to much for its first couple of sequels, Son of a Witch and A Lion Among Men. They were all right, I suppose, but nowhere near as engaging as Wicked. I’ve never felt moved to reread those two, but I was still interested enough in the world to read the final book in the series which came out last year, Out of Oz.

    While I still wouldn’t rank that as good as Wicked, I felt this was much more of a return to form. I might actually reread this at some point! It somehow made Maguire’s vision of Oz much more interesting that the previous two. I do enjoy his ordered take on the world of Oz. Baum’s books seem to be the sort that rewrite the past whenever convenient, which isn’t the sort of approach I care for. Maguire’s Oz, on the other hand, takes all these confused elements and order them into a coherent whole. It’s like how Don Rosa organised Barks’s myriad references into a coherent whole in The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.

    Come to think of it, Wicked‘s full title is even Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.

    Like I said, I’m no Oz aficionado, but having finished this series now, I’m almost tempted to become one. I do have Baum’s first book already, and I’m sure plenty of others are on Project Gutenberg or something.

    Of course, first I have to find the time.

    3 Responses to Oziana

    1. 19 November, 2012 at 08:58

      Dang it, you’re confusing me! I feel like I should read this book now, but I know I would then anally want to read the sequels, and you’re sort of raining all over the recommendation parade there!

      If you like Oz-reimagenings, by the way, you might like the miniseries “Tin Man”. It isn’t superb or anything, but it’s quite good. While technically a sequel (there are vague references to what sounds a bit like the original story as centuries past history there), it is basically a full-on and drastic reworking. Definitely the best of that guy’s three TV reimagenings of classic fantasies (he’s since done a similar “reboot sequel” one on Wonderland and a prequel one on Neverland too).

      And speaking of those three, I kept waiting for a mention of Cheshire Crossing here … Pout.

      This seems to turn into a summary of MY relationship with Oz, so I should mention that it has also been referenced, obliquely, at “Once Upon A Time”. Twice, I think, possibly more times that I haven’t caught on to. Expecting it to be a big deal if/when they finally make use of it there.

      The last major Oz-thing I can think of is that quite good later-season episode of “Scrubs” (one of the few) where the whole episode is an exercise in how much Oz-stuff they can sneak in.

      Like you, I never cared much for the film as a kid, but I rather like it now. I find many of the songs catchy. The wizard himself is always a huge anti-climax though, which is probably why I never felt interest in the book, even as a child.

      Oh, and for the record, the _excellent_ HBO prison drama “Oz” (and “Arrested Development”‘s hysterical joke on what comes of its name confusion) is obviously littered with minor references, even if it content-wise is utterly different in every respect. It even used “It’s no place like home” as a tagline apparently.

      • 19 November, 2012 at 09:44

        Wicked wasn’t written with sequels in mind, so you could easily stop there if you wanted to.

        An in that book, the wizard isn’t such an anticlimax either. In one of Baum’s books, he said the wizard actively deposed the previous king, but hastily retconned that when it proved unpopular. Maguire builds on that version of the wizard, the power-hungry scheming tyrant.

        • 19 November, 2012 at 09:48

          Curses! Such elegant counterpoints!

          And how DARE your bring power-hungry scheming tyrants into this! You know they’re my Achilles’ heel of fiction!

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