Gregory Maguire – Playing with Matches

I gave up the first time I tried to read Wicked. It was too thick and too slow. But the play came out and everybody saw it except me I think. However, Gregory Maguire is a very fluent and funny commentator who spoke this weekend at the International Wizard of Oz Club (IWOC).
If you are not familiar with the IWOC, it is a group of fascinating people who take the some 45 L. Frank Baum books about the Wizard of Oz very seriously. As I spend more time here I’m becoming increasingly inspired by Oz books and the desire to study them.

In general, I think the alternative stories he’s written including Wicked, serve to free us from the traditional fairy tales. He inspires us to go beyond and go on to some other place that express our voice and our bias in comparison to those traditional tales.

One of my favorite phrases from Maguire: “I didn’t have a teacher except for the librarian. Everything in books was my teacher.” Last week Stephen Krashen spoke about the importance of having lots of books available for children.  I think Stephen Krashen would have been proud.

Maguire suggests we all go, get creative, and play with matches.  We should write about what burns in our heads.  Something with voice.  Something we know is true.  He was not trying to rewrite The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, he was just trying write a version of something that connects to him; something that connects to all of us; something that burns within him.  May we all play with matches.