Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Wicked: A captivating biography of the Wicked Witch of the West in the land of Oz (on the off chance you didn't know...).

While the Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum, tells the story of Dorothy's ascent from simple farm girl to hero of an entire nation, Maguire offers the perspective of she who was sacrificed so that Dorothy could obtain her solitary wish. It is a mesmerizing tale, but...

...if there is one thing that sends me into a tizzy, it's an cheap ending to a rich, expansive and fulfilling story. I'm not one who likes everything wrapped up into a pretty expensive bow, in fact I prefer a few loose ends-a few threads that I can weave into developing anecdotes, but I do need a few final climatic verses to leave me satisfied.

The blathering on of Maguire for the remaining 40 pages left me fuming until the last syllable... I very nearly tore out the last few pages, and were it not a borrowed book I would shred every page written after Auntie Em's and Uncle Henry's house fell on Nessarose. This slanted view of Elphaba's demise was so entirely insulting to the reader. Maguire dedicated 9/10 of the book to the development of Elphaba's character, begging us to empathize with her plight and then, like a hard slap across the face, he dishonored her and offended his reader, by allowing her to fall apart in the presence of a little girl in a checkered dress who asked for only the most obvious and easily foreshadowed plot question of all time! Killyjoy smelled the ending coming for miles and sacrificed himself so he didn't have to witness it.

Unfortunately, it wasn't just the ending I can't come to terms with. One scene in particular that I can't begin to reconcile the purpose of, is that between Elphaba and Princess Nastoya. This scene was completely unnecessary and derivative, and seemed to act merely as some grand excuse to begin calling Elphaba a Witch. While Nessarose was titled a Witch by the Munchkinlanders as an interpretation of her Eminence; could not the same possession of the title, and the more congruent and fluent title at that, be given to Elphaba as a result of her inattention and inability to form personal relationships?

The teeth? The broom? The Maunt? It is these details, whether the insertion or deletion of them, these key elements that infuriate me as a reader. Details without necessity or meaning destroy the complex inner workings of storytelling. They are not supplemental or decorative, they are confusing and misleading.

And then there is the revelation of Elphaba's father which was neither anticlimactic nor shocking, due to the absurdity of it's delivery. First, the dwarf mysteriously announces the liberal involvement of Yackle throughout Elphaba's life, and though Elphaba has been little more than obsessed with Yackle throughout the book, dismisses this apocalyptic announcement as though it were infertile nonsense in as many sentences as it was delivered. Immediately thereafter, when the revelation of her father is finally proclaimed, even from the mouth of the Time Clock Dragon in which she was birthed, Maguire offers no additional commentary from Elphaba's perspective or from the 3rd person author narrative, dismissing the best part of the book, with no more than an utterance of "poppycock"!

It's reprehensible; from "Horrors" to "poppycock".

This is a story written in 3rd person omniscient narrative, with the express purpose of giving a soul and a history to a character that has been villainized by popular culture for the past 50 years. Yet Maguire, after a heroic 350 page effort, gives up. He omits pertinent and revelatory information about key aspects of her life whether to humor himself, or out of sheer laziness, is incomprehensible.

I loved the book,.. most of it,... but something just doesn't add up when you have to make a chocolate cake to feel better once it's over.
Sweet Chocolate Cakettes

This cake will positively make you feel better with a sultry orange hint, a smooth seeping glaze and a textural crunchy bottom layer, inspired by Better Home and Gardens Double Chocolate Orange Torte.
Melt 8 oz. milk chocolate, stir until smooth, set aside

½ butter
1 cup sugar
Cream together until light and fluffy
Add 4 eggs, whip until color lightens

4 oz. melted chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
Zest from 1 orange
Whip together

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Stir into batter

Pour into prepared 8x8x2 greased, and floured pan
Marble remaining 4oz. of chocolate over top of cake, use a knife to distribute chocolate evenly
Bake at F350º, 30 minutes, or until cake springs back to the touch
Invert on wire rack to cool

Orange Marmalade Butter Nut Crust
2 cups sugar
Juice from one orange
½ cup butter
Melt over low heat until combined
Bring to a low boil and cook for 5 minutes

Add ¾ cup of whole pecans
Stir to coat
Pour into bottom of 8x8x2 pan
Bake at F350°, just until mixture starts to brown, approx. 5-10 minutes

While crust is cooking, tear cake into bite sizes pieces
When crust is fresh out of the oven, immediately spread cake to fill pan
Press firmly with spatula to compress
Top with ganache and spread evenly to coat

Ganache Glaze
½ cup whipping cream
7 oz. milk chocolate
Melt over low heat until incorporated
Let cool just slightly, pour over cake

Slice cake into indivdual sized bites
Serve in candy cups
Enjoy until you feel better!

Bake cake as directed and omit crust
Top with glaze
...and don't even get me started on the Musical, a farce of an adaptation which bears resemblance in name only. What is with Hollywood dramatics reducing brilliant masterpieces into a regurgitation of the same, tired, washed up old whore of a story that we've passed in the red light district ten thousand times before.

13 Sweet Talkers:

A Nerd Like Me said...

Hahahaaaa! I love the book...well, at lest I loved the IDEA of the book. But it was a difficult read. I can't even get through the sequel, So of a Witch. But if you ever get a chance to see the musical...GO. SEE. IT!!! It captures the pure essence of Elphaba's character. Sure, it leaves some stuff out, but that's because its a freakin musical! You will laugh and cry all at the same time. Go. See. It.

Lois Grebowski said...

My stepdaughter has been reading ti for her book club group. I don't know if she's finished it, but I know it was a difficult read. I read it and I think I gave up. I don't remember finishing it.

Barbara said...

Your post is so funny and so right on the mark. And I won't get you started on the musical. I promise.

And to finish your post with those adorable cakettes! A delightful mouthful of sweet treat!

Camille said...

And that's why I didn't even attempt to read the book - I just stick to the musical for the same reason as Gabe. I like the songs :)
AND, I'm lovin me some chocolate cakettes. You really are amazing!!

Dorothy said...

Great. Now I have to re-read the book. I'm not very good at remembering books I've read, because I have a bad habit of reading too fast and just reading words without taking in the story. I've totally forgotten everything that happened; I didn't realize the ending was so...unfulfilling :( Sorry you didn't like it. I hope that cake made you feel better though!

Connie said...

What a review!! You have a way with words AND baking! Such talent!

Meowth said...

I actually bought this book a while ago and I haven't read it yet. It should be an interesting read. Oh, and thanks for the comment!

Pamela said...

Good review, I have to agree with you on many, many points. The ending does leave something to be desired in terms of Elphaba and her demise. Any leftovers of your delicous Cakettes??

Linda said...

Hi, Coming to you by way of SITS. thank you so much for your comment. Winter has been in my life for forever. It is beautiful but right now I am trady for spring.
Love your review. Now when I re read the book I will look at it in a different way.
Your sweets look amazing. Thanks fior stopping by...

Lisa said...

My fav Kitty and her lusucious creations! These cake bites look amazing. Love the hint of orange in them :)

That said, I would LOVE to trade off the macs for one of your pecan logs, but i'm so new at mac making, I'm almost worried they're not 'right' yet in terms of flavor. I've learned my lesson when it comes to sending someone stuff I've never baked before..on the first try no less..LOL

Chef Aimee said...

The musical Wicked was one of the best theatre experiences I have ever had. And something tells me that this recipe is one of the best dessert experiences I would ever have!

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