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Troll’s-Eye View

February 4, 2013

Say what you like about Gregory McGuire’s novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, from which the musical Wicked was born, he certainly gave new life to the trend of writing stories from the point of view of the villain of a tale. That’s what all the stories in Troll’s-Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, are about.

My favorite, of course, is “Castle Othello,” by Nancy Farmer. I read this story because Eleanor handed me the book and told me to read it, knowing that Othello is my favorite Shakespeare play. So I read about two innocent young girls hearing about Othello moving to the neighborhood and taking a grand castle, much in the way that Bingley comes to the countryside of the Bennett girls, with my heart in my mouth. And then I was surprised, because of course Othello is not a villain, just misunderstood.

My other favorite is “An Unwelcome Guest” by Garth Nix, which tells the story of how Rapunzel installed herself in a witches’ tower and the witch had to find a way to get rid of her.  The dialogue at the beginning is one of the best parts:

“There’s a girl in the south tower,” reported Jaundice, the witch’s marmalade cat. “The same one as almost got in last year.”

“Well, go and bite her or something,” said the Witch. She was busy stirring a huge bronze cauldron. She had twelve coworkers coming for lunch and was mixing up a batch of jelly that had to be poured into an architectural mold and put in the ice cave before eleven.

“Can’t,” purred Jaundice. “She’s in the top chamber.”

“What? How did she get up there? I spelled the lower doors shut!”

“She’s grown her hair,” said Jaundice….

Catherynne M Valente’s story “A Delicate Architecture” is also notable, mostly because I didn’t have an idea which fairy tale I was in until I got almost to the very end, and then I knew how everything had started and yet the fairy tale was just about to begin.

Also–and this is a spoiler–the story was amusing because, recently–as part of my quest to do new things to keep my discontent about winter at bay–I went with some friends to a movie theater in Columbus that serves lunch or dinner while you watch a movie. We had scheduled this for after dropping Walker off at a chess tournament, so we had to choose a lunchtime movie, and what we settled on was Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.  Luckily, it was the kind of movie that had amusing bits (medieval setting, glass milk bottles, sketches of missing children tied to them with string), but a story that we didn’t mind too much being interrupted.  Ordinarily I can’t stand being interrupted in a movie–if I get popcorn, I tend to eat it during the previews and then hand it off to someone else when the movie starts. So lunch during a movie didn’t turn out to be an experience I want to repeat, but I can’t say I was unhappy about doing it once.

What have you done once that was okay to try, but you wouldn’t do it again?  Have you seen Wicked? I’ve seen it twice, and the song “Loathing” is my favorite, especially for the memory of the YouTube video in which Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy sing it to each other (the one I’m remembering was a lip-synch version, since taken down, but the one I’ve linked to is pretty good).


8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 4, 2013 10:40 am

    I haven’t read or seen Wicked. But I keep hearing that I ought to…

    • February 5, 2013 7:58 am

      We read the book when it first came out, so by the time the musical came along, we didn’t mind the changes. There are some big differences, including that the musical has a happy ending.

  2. lemming permalink
    February 4, 2013 12:18 pm

    I really need to read “Wicked” one of these days…

    • February 5, 2013 7:59 am

      I think you’d like it. Not so sure about all the sequels; we weren’t as fond of them.

  3. February 4, 2013 8:57 pm

    I have attempted skiing and can say I don’t need to do it again. I have not seen nor read any of the Wicked books/shows. Someday maybe. I have wanted to try one of those dinner+movie places; there is one not too far.

    • February 5, 2013 8:01 am

      You’re a braver woman than I am; I’ve never even attempted skiing. I liked Hemingway’s description of it in A Moveable Feast, where he said they didn’t go down any hill they couldn’t climb up, so it was a different kind of exercise than it has since become.

  4. February 5, 2013 10:33 am

    I haven’t seen Wicked because I’m the one person who didn’t like the book. I like that this one is short stories but I’m not sure it’s for me.

    • February 5, 2013 6:03 pm

      It’s aimed at a younger audience, especially because many of the authors have a YA following (Kelly Link, Holly Black, Neil Gaiman…)

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