My life has finally settled down to a tolerable level of chaos.
I didn’t totally abandon my writing this last couple weeks, however. For one thing, I have collected and published a second book of poems on Amazon.
To celebrate, I am listing my four original novellas as free until Monday (Wild Temptress of the Scottish Highlands, The Rightful Lord of the Castle, Forgiveness Conquers All, The Pleasures of the Flesh).
Rebel, one of the previously unreleased poems in my latest collection is told from the POV of Dorothy Gale. That is to say Dorothy from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
I sometimes say that this was the first book that I ever read, when I was only 3 1/2 years old. But the more I think about it, I don’t know if that is true.
(Someday I will have to post my observations about memory. I’ve been told I have both an astonishing memory and a “revisitionistic” memory, depending on who wants to control the narrative. What I have is a mind that adapts easily, if I don’t get stuck in blinding tunnel-vision focus. But that means that I have to be careful how many times I revisit a memory to probe it, because I am also extraordinarily creative and my mind will start “decorating” the memory to make it more interesting. So I bag and tag and leave myself notes. Heaven help me, and my caregivers, if I ever get dementia and lose the ability to access my utterly unique mental filing system).
So I think a more accurate statement would be that this is the first worthwhile book that I read, that wasn’t a throw-away reader about Jack. It made me want to read more, so I pled with my mom every week to take me to the library (except, at that age, I couldn’t articulate internal “r” and “l” very well so it probably sounded like “liebwerry” and was no doubt the reason my mother would laugh and agree to take me there).
I don’t know if they had all 14 of the Oz books, but I know they had a shelf of them, and I read each one probably a half a dozen times before I was 8.
Later on, it would the Narnia series and Greek mythology that piqued my interest.
I started reading Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare in 4th grade. I never was much into Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys, but I read them both because I was bored and TV wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is now.
And although I adore Mary Poppins the movie, I didn’t read the book until much later. Which is a good thing because the character in the movie and the one in the book are quite different (and the movie character is better IMHO).
When my daughter was in 3rd and 4th grade, and still attending public school on-site, I would read to her class and the other classes at those grade levels. The kids loved The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as much as I did. Mary Poppins was a flop, as was Peter Pan. But they loved Pinocchio, especially the boys. There are kids running around my former town who would dash up to me and say, in a little-too-stereotypical Italian accent, “Ach! Pinocchio! Whyza you hafta be-a such-a bad-a boy.” Because he is horrible, in the book.
But back to Dorothy Gale.
I like her because she has no inclination towards hetero romance. I realize that’s probably why in some versions of her, she is potrayed as lesbian, e.g. Once Upon a Time.
None of this phased me as a girl. I had no clue about “love” other than it was a word you said to people when you wanted to be nice, and that when you got older you might say it to your husband or wife. I had no clue about “sex” other than…. well, no… just no clue.
But I understood friendship and I understood being scared but doing something anyway, and being smart but misunderstood. I understood why people had dogs, and how they could be even better than people sometimes.
As for all the hocus-pocus, it wasn’t any weirder than what I was taught in Sunday School and that was T-R-U-E because my parents said it was T-R-U-E.
Being such an aficionado of all things Oz, I of course have my favorite film version…
I’ve read all four of Gregory Maguire’s book from The Wicked Years. They were… thick.
How do I describe them? Start with a dull ache in your jaw from extended dental work, then pop in some earbuds so you are enveloped by a late ’90s playlist with songs by Garbage, Belly, Poe, and Radiohead. Then wrap layers of Vicodin velour around your head and lock yourself naked in a warm-bath-temperature isolation chamber.
Maybe I should post that as a review on Goodreads.
I mean, he knows his stuff and he takes it to places no other writer has. I’m just not sure that we ever really needed to go there.
Take for example, ummm…. this example. My daughter likes musicals, so we have tried to do right by her in that regard. We took her to see The Lion King (absolutely worth it), Mary Poppins, the Musical (absolutely not worth it) and Wicked.
Sometimes I see the movie/musical first and sometimes the other way around. For this one, I thought I would try to read as much of the first book in the series as I could before watching it with 1) my then-husband, 2) our daughter and 3) my mother.
By the time we went, I was so worried that the musical would follow the book accurately that I thought about selling the tickets on eBay and lying to everyone and saying that they had been eaten by a bear. A polar bear. A really hungry polar bear.
The reason why is that, in the book, a group of school friends (including some who are couples) go into town and are able to get tickets to a very secretive theater called the Philosophy Club that everyone talks about but no one says what goes on inside. They are are titillated and nervous. They are lead down a dark hallway to a booth with a crescent couch around a circular table. Everything is dark red and black and sinfully lush. They order some wine and watch the other booths fill up. The entire room resembles a Gravitron from local fairs, because it kind of is.
The waiters are mostly dwarves, but some Animals (which are walking-talking creatures not to be confused with animals, and who are quickly becoming illegal). Once all the booths are full, they close the door and the room starts to gently spin. They have a lottery and choose some of the audience members to come to the center of the room, including Tibbett, one of the friends of Elphaba and Galinda (wicked and good, respectively). He drinks a potion, I think.
The other two in the center of the room are a dwarf who takes down his pants to show an enormous erection and a Tiger with an even larger erection (obviously). One of the workers rubs a balm on the bums of all the participants and then chains them all together, with Tibbett on the bottom, then the Tiger and then the dwarf.
And the room begins to spin and throb.
So, obviously, I thought my polar bear plan might actually be a good one.
Still, I had to remind myself: this musical is put on by Disney. My church-going pretty blonde so-fucking-happy-it-hurts aunt loved it. There is no way, I told myself, that there is any bestial sodomizing going on in a Disney musical. And there wasn’t, of course.
I can’t say I thought much of the musical. From the distance we sat at, I only had a general impression of what the actors looked like and I couldn’t shake the image of Elphaba being played by Mayim Bailik of The Big Bang Theory fame.
And once that thought got rooted in my head, I kept seeing Amy Poehler playing Glinda.
Which made the funny scenes funnier, but the dramatic scenes seem contrived.
Elphaba is a straight up bad-ass in the book. Born with a full set of razor-sharp teeth, she bites off the finger of the nurse who helps birth her which leads the nurse to say that she must really want to suck some cock, to bite off a finger.
Yep, not Disney material . Still they made it work.
I enjoyed Emerald City on NBC for as long as it lasted, especially its inclusion of elements like Tip and Mombi, and Princess Langwidere of Ev that come from the second and third books of the Oz series.
I am totally meh about the classic movie. You can’t not mention it, but it isn’t the best version. The best version is the book itself.
Oh, and one last thing… silver! Her shoes are not red, they are silver. Which is why my poem explains how they turn red… by fighting to kill the Wicked Witch of the West.