*The Pointless Writer*
has a life you're completely uninterested in. But it's okay because I can write. No abbreviations. No shoddy grammar (though I'm not immune to mistakes). Just quality writing on sometimes completely pointless topics.
UnPoints of Note
1. I write when fancy takes. Sometimes, fancy takes many months of leave.
Confessions of an ugly Stepsister
“So what books are you going to read now our holidays have come?”
None at all, I told my friend with a strange laugh I have never heard myself emit. Strangled, strangely incredulous, altogether unexpected. Perhaps it was a portent of its innate untruth for, barely a day later, I retracted my reply: having more time on my hands during the interim provided by job-hunting, I’d attempted to write a review of Iron Man 3 and discovered that all my non-music vocabulary had just about upped and died. Now, having finished the book, the English language centre in my brain is up and running again, and words flow with delicious ease, in much the same manner as wind blows and waterfalls... fall.I stumbled across Confessions of an ugly Stepsister by way of its author, Gregory Maguire, who happened to write Wicked, the book that inspired the identically named Broadway hit musical. A story inspired by Cinderella? Irresistible. Completely original and novel work is great, but, sometimes, a remake of an old tale is better. For one thing, it gives readers (and viewers, because this principle applies to movies as well) a guide of sorts. Everyone loves fairy tales. They are the food of the soul, the building blocks of childhood, the dream makers and character growers. Beast turns out to be a cursed prince, who metamorphosizes from arrogant to chivalrous in the course of the story, thanks to the witch, who could admittedly do with new methods of teaching; Cinderella spins a tale of hope and dreams in the midst of a dreary situation; and Thumbelina infuses strength and bravery in the little ones as they face the larger world.*
So I grabbed my paperback copy of Confessions of an ugly Stepsister from the nearest library, curious as to Maguire's take on a famous fairy tale. He didn't disappoint. From the start, the characters in the book are developed so independently that, when the novel started converging to the original tale, I was almost disappointed. Each character is so real and so ingeniously reinvented that I can scarcely believe he took any inspiration from the tale at all. The original tale is merely old skin, barely clinging to the story which has shed it in favour of a larger, more complex form. It in no way defines the novel, suggesting only a shadow that pales in comparison with the subtle colours and contours of the actual tale. All the main characters are there, redefined in name, character, and origin, along with many others. It is this closeness yet distance which makes the read so delicious.
The use of the present tense throughout the book sets a more realistic stage than I ever thought possible. I was sucked into the story on every browning page, privy to Iris' (the titled stepsister's) inmost thoughts and reflections--her fancies, her self doubt, her fears--and living them with her. No longer a spectator looking upon past secrets, but secrets that are here and now. Meanwhile, the skillful use of sentence fragments paints a picture in a way it seems whole sentences do not. I was forced to see, in my mind's eye, each detail as Iris saw it. And this makes the stage all the more real, for we do not think in sentences or structure what we see as we see it. We add the frame after catching the details in poor grammatical fragments.
Ever the optimist and always desiring my happy ending, I must confess the book did not leave the best taste in my mouth. I hoped for the realization of the dream, even after all the ugliness in these characters' lives. But Maguire is not Disney, and I am in a way thankful for that (for Disney does not deliver such compelling lives), and the book ends in his way, which I cannot complain about. The dream is incomplete, and what stands is not detailed as I had desired, but it's okay. Isn't that life?
*The writer refers to Disney versions.