Thursday, March 15, 2007

The solace of fairy tales

  • Alex Witchel profiles Gregory Maguire in The New York Times Magazine.
We headed to the next classroom, where 40 third graders watched as Maguire wrote on the board: “Once upon a time is the situation.” “One unusual day is the complication.” “Luckily, is the resolution.”

He drew pictures to illustrate a story he appeared to be improvising, “The Hotel Bomb.” It was about a man whose wife goes to a hotel. When he learns that the hotel is about to be bombed, he sets off to save her.

As Maguire went on, he was barraged by questions, the answers to which he seemed to incorporate into the story. When he finished, he put down his marker and turned on a slide projector, which showed a picture of the original version of “The Hotel Bomb,” by Gregory Maguire, written in 1964. The kids looked surprised — the past 15 minutes hadn’t been extemporaneous after all. He showed them more stories, each with detailed drawings. “Philip in Trouble.” “Some Rise by Sin.” “Episode in Rome.”

Maguire talked until the class grew fidgety. The scope of his work, the sheer fact of his output, was more than they could digest.

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