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"Extreme beauty is an affliction..."

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"Extreme beauty is an affliction..."

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I read Wicked, by Gregory Maguire, oh, say, five years ago.  I finally got around to reading it long after it had burned out the heat of its "Hot New Novel" status, but it was certainly still long ago enough that the book has been reduced in my mind to a series of impressions rather than an actual story: the Wicked Witch of the West, incomprehensibly green of skin, with an allergy to water; bright and unhappy, quirky and brooding; defiantly possessed of her own side of the story, however odd and unlikely.  Those echoes of memory tell me I should reread the book.  Goodness knows it's been standing on my shelf, untouched, for long enough.  I enjoyed it, but it was also... disturbing.  The fact that I no longer recall how it disturbed me reinforces that I definitely need to read it at least once more.

It was reading Wicked that gave me enough information to know that I wanted to read Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister.   Interestingly, it was also the vague memory of being disturbed by Wicked that has kept the other book standing on my shelf as well, unread long after I bought it.  I believe I bought it as part of last year's birthday splurge at the Frugal Muse (one of the used bookstores Mike and I frequent), so it has been waiting for at least seven months.  I read fewer books in the last twelve months than in any previous year of my life, however, and I would bet that that the factors that caused that also have contributed to the wait.

In any case, last night, moved by having been thwarted at the library, I picked up Confessions, and stayed up far too late reading it.  I finished it today.

Having written that, I realize that I'm not ready to really write about it yet; it's too soon.  I may, in the next couple of days, or I may not get around to it.  The window in which both my thoughts have crystallized and my memory remains crystalline of clarity isn't that wide for most books. This one was striking, it may keep for a few months or even longer, but I should get to it as soon as I can, if I mean to do it at all.

I do mean to start writing more about the books that I read, in general, but in the meantime, I'll at least say a few things about this one as an overview. I am fond of retellings of fairy tales - I don't have a particularly scholarly eye to the subject matter, but I have read many revisitations of the fairy tale in short story form. I find it truly impressive that this one was done in novel format and done well, especially since the elements of the most commonly known version (in the US) survived the retelling, though in modified format. At least as often as that's been the case have I seen huge cosmetic changes in the story accompanied by the loss of the original details. Whether faithful (in some sense of the word) to the original (in some sense of the word *g*) or not, it's almost a tossup as to whether any particular retelling really works for me, or strikes me as being spoiled: the sex lives of the seven dwarves never seem to pan out very well, somehow.

Now, Valentine is yowling from the backroom, so I guess I'd best go give her some attention before she steals all my pens.
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