06 February 2012

Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire


Well, after finding A Lion Among Men somewhat dissatisfying, I was greatly relieved when I was quite satisfied by its follow-up, and the last book in The Wicked Years, Out of Oz.  My apologies if anyone actually reads this blog and gets spoiled.  I assume no one does and therefore I can write what I want.  Imaginary reader, be warned!
Out of Oz manages to bring together the threads Maguire had woven throughout Son of a Witch and A Lion Among Men and, to a lesser extent, Wicked (though Wicked was rather more closed-ended than the others).  It was a relief to finally revisit the characters I had gotten to know in the prior novels and watch as their struggles intersected, split apart, entwined and changed.
The story of the end of the war, and of the return of Ozma, so long looked for, was almost the backdrop to the story of Rain, the daughter of Liir and Candle, born green but bewitched into a disguise, learning how to live her life.  We saw her go from an almost non-responsive young girl to a young woman (at least, I hope she was officially a woman, otherwise her romance with Tip has a slight creepiness to it) that was, at last, engaged with the world.
In the end, Rain’s actions, and those of her friends and family, changed Oz - whether for the better or worse, we aren’t told.  The story goes on even though our glimpse into Oz has been occluded.
It is in the books final chapters that, I believe, what Maguire wants us to take away comes through most clearly, which was refreshing after the difficulty I had finding meaning in A Lion Among Men:
“It’s more convenient to have a hero waiting in the wings than to endure a blowhard standing in the spotlight... Also easier on your moral comfort, for one thing, to keep waiting for redemption of one sort or another rather than work it out for yourself.  Since its time hasn’t arrived yet...  People need something to be missing.  They need to crave something they don’t have.” - the Lion
Strange that Maguire should put those words into the mouth of a character who was previously so lacking in convictions.  But, as true as those words were in Oz, they are even truer in our world.
I am glad I stuck through to finish Out of Oz; there were times when I became rather annoyed with The Wicked Years.  I suppose, like those people in Oz, I kept waiting for that hero in the wings, since I didn’t want to endure the blowhards that the novels followed.  But in the end, it is watching those blowhards find the heroes in themselves that was the most rewarding.

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Books: Reading The Family by Jeff Sharlett right now.

Bottles: Borsao Garnacha table wine from Spain.  Not bad.

Writing: Well, haven't quite caught up on my research reading which I intend to finish before I start in on the third draft, as I feel it will offer many of the insights I need.

Guitar: Working on the new exercises and making a dedicated effort to play my lap steel more.  That said, crazy hours at work this week.