I recently picked up Gregory Maguire's Out of Oz (William Morrow, 2011), the last in the bestselling Wicked series. I'd enjoyed, to varying extents, the first three novels and was curious to see how they might come to a close. I'll have to confess this wasn't my favorite of the four - it was a bit longer and slower than suited my mood, though I rather liked the new protagonist, Rain, grandchild of Elphaba and daughter of Liir.
What I found truly beautiful, though, was this bit from the coda, the closing afterwords of the novel. It resonates deeply with my literary and spiritual worldview, and felt compelled to share:
Watching the world wake up, dress itself in the dark, take on its daily guise, reminds me of how we fathom human character when we encounter someone at a distance, at a gallop, in the shadows. We get no more than a quick glance at the man on the street, the child in the woods, the witch at the well, the Lion among us. Our initial impression, most often, has to serve.
Still, that first crude glimpse...is often all we get before we must choose whether to lean forward or to avert our eyes. Slim evidence indeed, but put together with mere hints and echoes of what we have once read, we risk cherishing one another. Light will blind us in time, but what we learn in the dark can see us through.
To read, even in the half-dark, is also to call the lost forward.
In what ways does reading inform the way we look at others and the world? To imagine the stories behind the faces we see? I suspect they are too many to count.
Happy reading and cherishing.