Susan Emmet's Reviews > The Next Queen of Heaven

The Next Queen of Heaven by Gregory Maguire
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Jan 08, 12

Read in January, 2012

So who is the next Queen of Heaven? Let's see. I don't know even minutes after finishing this 1999 novel of Gregory Maguire. I loved all his other books - the Wicked series, Lost, Mirror/Mirror, etc. - but this tome is a puzzle. I laughed often and hard, albeit at often crude/lewd/rude comments and characterizations. I loved the Catholics of Our Lady in (sort of) cahoots with members of the Pentecostal Radical Radiants, but my favorites were the 70+ yo nuns, led by Sister Mother Clare; Jeremy, the conflicted gay choir leader and his friend Marty; and Tabitha, the supposed local "slut" (I hate that word) and her newly discovered pregnancy. Tabitha and her brothers have to care for their mother (thrice married)after she's cold conked by a statue of Mary in the Catholic church while stealing milk for Sunday service at the Pentecostal church next door. Mom is returned to reality after being conked again by a creche Jesus during Christmas service.
Writing about this is hard. There are too many characters, too many intersecting plot lines, too much that's crudely funny, too much semi-philosophical questions about Y2K, millenial nutso stuff, AIDS, Catholicism, love between/among folks of all sorts, and escape. Kind of sacred and very profane.
Perhaps a quotation might help me clarify my dogged confusion.
In describing the creche in the 34th chapter, "The Virgin and Joseph knelt a good three feet high. The shepherds and wise men stood smaller - a tautological distinction...(and the) wise men were bracingly multiracial. One of them glared with ovoid eyes, a cross between Krishna and Dracula; another was black and shiny as a Steinway; the third resembled an anthropomorphized aubergine...Jeremy got the feeling that beneath the robes, the shepherds were wearing ceramic pajamas printed all over with Bart Simpson."
Moments reminiscent of Tom Robbins. Moments reminiscent of the better G. Maguire?
I gave it a "4," but only for pieces/moments?

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