Gregory Maguire, author of 'Wicked,' does a good deed
Gregory Maguire, author of seven books for adults and five for young readers, is probably best known for "Wicked," his retelling of "The Wizard of Oz" from the witch's point of view.
But creating stories that explore the nature of evil, or what we perceive as evil, hasn't made him bad. In fact, he's done something very good with his new book, "The Next Queen of Heaven." A comic novel set in upstate New York in late 1999, the book features a teen girl as troublesome as they come; her devout mother, who, after a bump on the head from a religious statue, either begins speaking in her own profane code or in tongues; a local semi-out choirmaster; and a surprising nun. Maguire moves easily in and out of even minor characters, so the town comes alive in many dimensions, most of them funny and slightly bonkers.
Did I mention that "The Next Queen of Heaven" is free?
That's the good part. Maguire has chosen to publish the book with the Concord Free Press, which will distribute all 2,500 copies of the novel, for free, to anyone who asks. They ask two things in return:
- That you make a donation to charity and tell them what it was.
- That you pass on the book and ask the next reader to do the same.
So far, more than $97,000 has been donated through the distribution of its books -- Maguire's, which has been out for just a couple of weeks, is the publishing house's third.
"I admire that the books as well as the publishing model raise questions about art's inherent value and the commodification of content," Maguire says in the book's press materials. "I like knowing that this book is out in the world, helping generate donations for great causes."
It's not Maguire's first good deed -- he founded a children's literacy nonprofit in New England way back in 1987.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: Gregory Maguire. Credit: Chitose Suzuki / Associated Press