|photo: Andy Newman
Gregory Maguire is perhaps best known as the author of the novel Wicked, the further exploration of the Land of Oz and the basis of the smash-hit Broadway musical. With Egg & Spoon (Candlewick, September), he places folktale star Baba Yaga in Tsarist Russia where two teenage girls meet: one very wealthy, the other poverty-stricken. Maguire and his family live in Massachusetts.
On your nightstand now:
The Late Scholar, a Lord Peter Wimsey novel by Jill Paton Walsh; The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt; and Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Hard to decide, because as a child you change every two months. But the stand-out book for showing me what literary atmosphere means was L.M. Boston's The Children of Green Knowe. I read it in second or third grade--the earliest full-length novel I can remember reading.
Your top five authors:
Well, today, here is how they present themselves to my asking mind:
Book you've faked reading:
Hmmm. That's not my way. About books I haven't read, I remain silent, though I concede that might be construed as faking. Most books I've been silent on I later went on to read. Mann's The Magic Mountain is one that leaps to mind that I have never yet read, though have listened to vigorous discussions of and nodded my head with interest.
Book you are an evangelist for:
Unleaving, a late 1970s young adult novel by Jill Paton Walsh. Also Towers of Trebizond, a late 1950s adult novel by Rose Macauley.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Most recently, W.G. Sebald's A Place in the Country.
Book that changed your life:
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. I have been keeping a spy journal for 47 years, ever since I read it.
Favorite line from a book:
I am not sure this is verbatim, and it's two lines, but close enough. From James's Portrait of a Lady, spoken by Henrietta Stackpole, I think: "You know I'm deeply human, Isabel; I always was." I can hear the young Maggie Smith delivering this with a condescension and a self-satisfied smack of the lips, or Tina Fey, or Carol Burnett, and knocking it out of the park.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Perhaps Alice in Wonderland, because once a reader has finished and mapped out the unmappable dream, it is impossible to experience again freshly the sense of lostness and the fright of inconsequentiality that that book introduced into the reading experience--presaging, in my view, the Lost Generation's experiments by a half century.
Favorite books outside my comfort zone:
Third Rail by Rory Flynn, an urban/suburban Boston crime novel.
Favorite reason to buy books I already own:
Books published in England, generally a little cheaper in production detail, nonetheless have a useful foreignness to them (different standards of leading, of page design, different typefaces) that highlights the extreme pleasure inherent in leaning toward a book, to make its foreignness familiar.