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"Wicked" by Gregory Maguire 
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Post Gillikin
I have now reached the part when Elphaba goes to university, and the character of Boq is introduced, and I'm really enjoying this
(I think I have a soft spot for novels which take place in posh boarding schools).

So you were right, Constance, things do get interesting at this stage.

Out of curiosity, I had a look at what readers wrote about the book on a few websites. It varies, but on one website it seemed that everybody was complaining about how boring the book was and what rubbish it was!

So I understand why it took some 10 or 15 years and a musical for the novel to become a bestseller.
After all it's a lot to expect from most readers to go through such a long and dry first part.

There are a lot of lines I like, for example:

"There was no response from Elphaba. Galinda, usually pleased that she knew the correct way to steer every conversation into a paean to herself, was flummoxed." (p 103)

"Ah, that's the question", Elphaba said, "but I've always learnt that the first thing to do is deny the question's validity."


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Fri Mar 07, 2008 4:39 pm
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I found the university section very interesting as well Ophelia. The courses of study that the students choose is a great way of foreshadowing the future that we are probably all familiar with from the Wizard of Oz. I'll have to skim over this section and refresh my memory a little bit on this section. It's been a few months now since I have read it and my more recent books are crowding it out. :D


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Mon Mar 10, 2008 8:49 am
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Post Week 1 Discussion Question 1
Hello BookTalk!

Yesterday, my temporary reading group began our discussion of the first 80 pages of Wicked. I came up with various discussion questions from what we read this past week, and I thought I would toss them around on this thread to see if any of them might elicit some responses for you guys. I certainly value all insight from discourse and would love to extend the exchange of thought beyond my immediate group. Anyway, here you are:

Wicked uses familiar characters to tell a new story. Yet, just in the short time that we are re-introduced to the characters (during the Prologue, that is) do they seem the same or different to you from how you remember them (from your childhood exposure to them in The Wizard of Oz, of course)? For example, the novel opens with a scene in which the Witch overhears Dorothy, the Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man gossiping about her. The book goes on to describe Dorothy as "not a dainty thing, but a good-size farm girl dressed in blue and white checks and a pinafore. In her lap, a vile little dog cowered and whined."

Now, I don't know about you, but I certainly don't recall Dorothy as a "good-size" farm girl, but the dog...yep. It was a bashful, ugly little thing. Did you guys notice anything different about them?



Tue Mar 11, 2008 4:20 pm
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Interesting question tlpounds. I think my initial reaction was that the characters seemed different it the context that you are watching them from the witch's perspective. In her point of view, Dorothy's got her shoes and she is thoroughly ticked off :D , so this may alter her perception of Dorothy in that she "sees" a big ugly pain-in-the-neck instead of the nice sweet farm girl everyone else sees.


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This is the sort of debate I can't join on grounds of being culturally-challenged. :doze:


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Post WK1 DQ#2
Constance, please call me Tammy. Oh! And I'm sorry, Ophelia! (We, in my reading group, all group up in the States and have watched The Wizard of Oz at some point in our childhoods! I didn't think to format my question for a cross-cultural audience. Sorry!)
The majority of us focused on the difference of how we remembered Dorothy, but one of my group members fervently defended Toto. Of all the characters, she thought how the witch interpreted the dog was so different from how she remembered it! (LOL! Dog lover...) Anyway, she wrote, "I would have to say that I believe the opposite for Toto. In the movie he was a brave dog even though he was little....he ran up and barked right at the witch! And he wasn't afraid of the tornado. AT least that is what I remember. And I thought he was really cute! =)"

Here is another question we discussed:

How did you feel about Melena's description of her pregnancy as her being a "hostage to herself. Or to the baby?" That she was only a "host for the parasite?" Twisted, perhaps? Selfish? Or reasonable? Pitiful? (For, she did go on to ask rhetorically, "Where's my self, anyway? Where'd I leave that tired old thing?")



Wed Mar 12, 2008 12:58 pm
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Duh! I forgot to post the response I gave to the question. Please find it below:

I rarely hear women talk of their pregnancy as a hostage situation. Perhaps this is because people these days are waiting longer to have children so that, when they do come along, they've been planned and wanted. I wonder, then, if Frex and Melena planned Elphaba's conception, or if she was "by chance." If she wasn't planned, then like other unplanned/unwanted pregnancies, a woman could feel violated by something growing in her that was uninvited.

Or, maybe they did want the pregnancy, but since Elphaba was such an unnatural creature, the pregnancy was harder on Melena's body than if she were a normal child. I mean, perhaps Elphaba's growth taxed her mother's body more than a normal pregnancy would



Wed Mar 12, 2008 1:11 pm
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Tammy, I'm glad you are telling us about the discussion you are having with your group, this is making things very interesting.

Please don't worry about me feeling culturally challenged, I was just laughing, I know that Wicked is referring to "The Wizard of Oz", perhaps one day I'll check the film or the book... it's just funny when you come accross something other people read as children.


Tammy and Constance,

I think we may need to create new threads for different questions about Wicked, what do you think? Otherwise we may end up with one very long crammed thread.

Tammy, you may be the one to bring in new questions at this stage, so perhaps just think of starting a new thread as you do so.

All this is very interesting to me because as I read I keep thinking that for the life of me I wouldn't know what questions to ask about this book...
:)


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Post Starting New Threads
Ophelia,

I don't mind if you'd prefer I start a new thread for the various discussion questions my group has discussed for Wicked. I am not sure how I would do this, though. Do you mean, instead of choosing "Post a Reply," would I press the link for "New Topic?" But, wouldn't that make several threads for the Wicked book under the "Additional Fiction Book Discussions" forum, rather than under the already established thread for Wicked? Is that what you want?

Just give me more detailed instructions on how you want me to post the questions in the future, and I'll do it. Thanks.



Wed Mar 12, 2008 2:09 pm
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Tammy wrote:
Quote:
Ophelia,

I don't mind if you'd prefer I start a new thread for the various discussion questions my group has discussed for Wicked. I am not sure how I would do this, though. Do you mean, instead of choosing "Post a Reply," would I press the link for "New Topic?" But, wouldn't that make several threads for the Wicked book under the "Additional Fiction Book Discussions" forum, rather than under the already established thread for Wicked? Is that what you want?


Yes.
I'm going to give an example of what I was thinking of by answering your questions in different threads.
When Constance joins us she can tell us what she thinks.

There's no perfect solution here, and you have put your finger on the difficulty: this is a forum for additional fiction book discussion, but so far they haven't been very big.

I'm also thinking in terms of people possibly joining this discussion a little later: if there is only one thread it will be more difficult to add their voice to a particular sub topic (I'm hoping that people will join us, at any rate I can see that many prople are reading these threads).


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Ophelia wrote:

Tammy and Constance,

I think we may need to create new threads for different questions about Wicked, what do you think? Otherwise we may end up with one very long crammed thread.

Tammy, you may be the one to bring in new questions at this stage, so perhaps just think of starting a new thread as you do so.

All this is very interesting to me because as I read I keep thinking that for the life of me I wouldn't know what questions to ask about this book...
:)


Ophelia - That might be a good idea if we are going to get a good discussion going. Do you think it will be easier to start threads for particular sections of the book or just particular topics, such as Melena's pregnancy, religious issues, political issues etc.?

Tammy - I have to agree with you about Toto - very annoying little dog. I don't want to give anything away about the pregnancy since I have finished the book, but I have heard pregnant women say things like they feel like their body is not their own anymore. Never having been pregnant yet myself, I can't really comment on it, but to me a comment like that sounds like a takeover of your body by the baby so women who may not want the baby they are carrying may see this as bad thing.


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Constance wrote:

Quote:
Ophelia - That might be a good idea if we are going to get a good discussion going. Do you think it will be easier to start threads for particular sections of the book or just particular topics, such as Melena's pregnancy, religious issues, political issues etc.?
.

For the moment I was thinking of threads on an as-you-need basis; we posted simultaneously, I was starting a thread about Melina so I could answer Tammy's questions.

Then I thought we needed a thread about religion...

You've read the whole book, so you could create a few more in advance.

And as for threads for particular sections of the book, why not have them as well?


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Post Suggested Thread Format
Ophelia and Constance,

Why don't we keep the threads consistent with other book discussions: divided into sections of the book. Before my reading group began the book, I came up with an outline of how we would divide the book and when we would have each division's discussion. I will post our group's reading/discussion outline below, and if you like it, let's use it. We divided the book into 8 sections:

Week 1: "Prologue: On the Yellow Brick Road" (p 1) - "Munchkinlanders" (p 80)

Week 2: Galinda (p 81) through Boq, Ch. 4 (p 150)

Week 3: Boq, Ch. 5 (p 150) through "Gillikin" (p 228)

Week 4: "City of Emeralds" (p231) through The Voyage Out, Ch.1 (p 298)

Week 5: The Voyage Out, Ch. 2 (p 299) through The Jasper Gates of Kiamo Ko (p 366)

Week 6: Uprisings (p 367) through The Murder and Its Afterlife, Ch. 3 (p 445)

Week 7: The Murder and Its Afterlife, Ch. 4 (p 445) through The Murder and Its Afterlife, Ch. 17 (p 515)

Week 8: Murder and Its Afterlife, Ch. 18 (p 515) through Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (p 538)

What do you think?



Wed Mar 12, 2008 4:10 pm
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I think either way would work - as needed or by chapter. There are common themes that run though the entire book but we could just disucss them on a chapter by chapter basis as well. Since everyone else but me is currently reading the chapter by chaper may work better for you as you go through the book.


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Thu Mar 13, 2008 1:17 pm
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Constance963 wrote:
I believe most of the religions in the book are the author's invention with the exception of the pagonism. The Pleasure Faith follows the prophecies of the Time Dragon, which Elphaba coincidentally was born in.


If Maguire intended the religions in his book to be direct parallels to existing religions, the I would wager that Unionism would stand for Christianity because they believe in an "Unnamed God" (like the Jewish use 'Yahweh' to stand for God) and that other religions (e.g. the Pleasure Faith and Lurlinistic Paganism) are sacrilegious/blasphemy. In my opinion, (though I'm not totally straight on this myself) the Pleasure Faith represents Hedonists and/or those who follow a religion that includes magic. They would be those who follow no particular faith, but indulge their desires with abandon, or those who, instead of following an unseen deity, follow sorcery and other magical arts (divination, ceremonial magick, etc.). Lurlinistic Paganism would simply be a form of pagan religion.

However, I neither think Maguire was trying to represent any particular religion from our society through the ones in his book, nor that he was trying to find fault or place blame with any religion. In contrast, what I think he was doing by giving the religions in his book familiar qualities/dogma to the ones we have in real life was to try and make his religions as familiar as possible to us so that we could relate to them. Once we could do that, we could more easily begin thinking critically about religion in general



Thu Mar 13, 2008 6:28 pm
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