A few weeks ago, my college buddy Erica reached out to me and said basically, “Hey, you have a book blog; I have a book blog. We should blog about books together!” And as I usually do, I said, “Okay, cool!”
Erica runs the NYC Bookworm blog (linked above) and has for a while, though I think the title is relatively new? But Erica reads a lot – much more than me, even. According to her widget, she’s read almost fifty books this year, whereas I am straggling along around 20. That tells me I am watching entirely too much Hannibal. Also, tumblr? I kind of hate you. ANYWAY. Erica reads a lot of different genres, and unlike the asshole who’s writing this entry right now, she doesn’t curse, or call herself an asshole, or continue reading horrible books so she can rant about them later, because she believes in saving her brain cells (unlike me, who didn’t stop reading The Cove for some reason). Erica provides actual, logical, informative reviews that are still passionate. She is a huge advocate for reading, and just as big a book addict as me.
If our essences when it came to reviewing books were to be boiled down to their barest elements, I would consider us to be like Pinky and the Brain. GUESS WHO’S NOT THE BRAIN, GUYS
(that would be me. I am totally Pinky in this scenario.)
We sent each other about, what – forty emails? I’m probably exaggerating – about what book we should read together first. Between the two of us, we listed to each other nearly the entire contents of our libraries. While there were many overlapping titles, the one we settled on was Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire. And I can’t tell you why I went for that one – it was at the top of the list of books we both shared? I hadn’t read it yet? I’m really not sure? Whatever, we’re doing it now, and that’s all that matters.
So let me take a moment and do something I usually do over on Movies Alaina’s Never Seen: a pre-post, if you will. Not necessarily a preview, because I haven’t read the book yet*, but here’s where my inclination to read it came from, which luckily meshed with why Erica wanted to read it.
I think it’s been well-established that I have a book-buying problem. Luckily for me, that problem will be curtailed very shortly, due to an upcoming budget that I must adhere to, but y ‘all don’t need to know about that (I’m going to be fine. With both money and reading material. TRUST ME.) Anyway, I had read Wicked, also by Gregory Maguire, and because I don’t have any sort of addictive personality (HOLDS UP SARCASM SIGN), I went out and bought Confessions, as well as … wait, did I? Maybe I didn’t. I seem to have a memory of purchasing either Mirror, Mirror (Snow White) or Lost (Hansel and Gretel). Anyway. Uh, if you are a friend of mine and happen to see a copy of either Mirror, Mirror or Lost in your house with my name written on the first page, could you let a girl know? Because if I lent it out and forgot about it, that would really suck.
Anyway. I liked Wicked when I read it, but not as much as some of my friends. Well, let me backtrack.
[Also, I would like to point out something right now – if y’all are coming here from Erica’s blog, I APOLOGIZE IN ADVANCE. I am rambly and sometimes circuitous in terms of reviewing, and if you are looking for professional, “here’s why you should read this book,” I don’t think I’m exactly consistent in providing that type of content. Caveat lector, and all that.]
ANYWAY. Back in sophomore or junior year of college, the soundtrack to Wicked was released. At this point, I cannot remember if I had read Wicked before or after I bought the soundtrack. But I do know that all the members of H2 bur– er, “borrowed money so as they could also legitimately purchase the same CD” and listened to it ad infinitum. For years, “Defying Gravity” was played at every single party we threw.
And in the spirit of the title of the book I’m currently reading, I have a confession: I do not love the Wicked soundtrack as much as you guys do. Honestly, my favorite part is the drinking game we created for “Popular.” (And I’m kind of glad I’m not seeing Wicked this weekend in Boston, because I would be the jackass that snuck a flask into the Boston Opera House to play it in real time.) I’m also still a little bitter that they changed the majority of the plotline from the book to the play. But that has nothing to do with Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, so I’m gonna save that bitchery for when I reread Wicked.
So anyway: Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister does the same thing that Wicked did, kind of. It took a well-known ‘fairy tale’ (and I put quotes up there because, as beloved as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is, I wouldn’t necessarily include it in the fairy tale genre) and focused on a character that was given no backstory or motivation in the original work: in Wicked, we learn that the Wicked Witch of the West’s real name is Elphaba, that she has siblings and a family, and hopes and dreams.
In Confessions, Mr. Maguire takes the tale of Cinderella and focuses on one of the Ugly Stepsisters, this one named Iris. The tale takes place in, I’m guessing, early 17th-century Holland? The time-frame isn’t quite given, but judging from some of the references —
Oh yeah, the asterisk – I almost forgot about that. [See, guys? Rambly! I’m sorry!]
*From Erica’s pre-read entry:
We will each have our own “opening introduction” that we’ll write beforehand […] preferably before actually starting the book.
CONFESSION! I … I started reading the book already. SORRY!
Anyway. There are references, and I think I’m just going to wait until I actually finish reading the book to discuss it more.
Let me say ‘anyway’ one more time, because that is a thing that I do. ANYWAY. Erica and I are both reading this book concurrently, and at some point, we’re going to discuss it via Twitter? And then maybe repost some of our discussion on our blogs so you don’t miss it? Or maybe take parts of that discussion and expound upon it here?
Look, I’m gonna be honest: right now, she and I are Indy and Sallah watching the Nazi caravan take the Ark from Tannis to Cairo: we’re making this up as we go. We’re still trying to feel out how the discussion will take place, what it’s going to look like, and whether or not there’s a Belloq we need to outsmart. But know this: the Ark will end up in Cairo, safe in Omar’s garage. And the journey is going to be just as awesome. Even if that metaphor kind of lost its way there.
(Also, no faces will be melted in the process. I give you my word.)
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