Matchless: A Christmas Story by Gregory Maguire came out earlier this year, although a version of it was first read by the author on NPR last year. You can still listen to the story (or read it) on the NPR site or read an transcript of the program here.
Every year, NPR asks a writer to compose an original story with a Christmas theme. This year, Gregory Maguire reinvents the Hans Christian Andersen classic "The Little Match Girl" for a new time and new audiences.
When it was first translated from Danish and published in England in the mid-19th century, audiences likely interpreted the Little Match Girl's dying visions of lights and a grandmother in heaven as metaphors of religious salvation. Maguire's new piece, entitled, "Matchless," re-illuminates Andersen's classic, using his storytelling magic to rekindle Andersen's original intentions, and to suggest transcendence, the permanence of spirit and the continuity that links the living and the dead.
An illustrated gift edition of "Matchless" will be published by William Morrow in fall 2009.
And so it was and is now available for purchase.
Maguire is familiar with fairy tale retellings, some traditional tales, but is most famous for his Wicked, retelling the witches's stories from Wizard of Oz.
I've been saving a post on Matchless for several weeks, debating whether or not to devote a week to the tale this December. After focusing on The Nutcracker last week, I decided to continue with another week devoted to Andersen's tale. It is bittersweet, but still a lovely story for this time of year and perhaps the fairy tale best associated with the holiday season.
I, of course, have the tale annotated on SurLaLune, but I will highlight books and other materials about the tale this week.