The first time Gregory Maguire visited The Open Door Bookstore & Gift Gallery on Jay Street in downtown Schenectady, he knew he was in a special place.
“I was either in high school or freshman in college, and for a kid from Pine Hills to Albany, taking a trip to Schenectady was an exotic adventure,” said Maguire, whose 1995 novel “Wicked” was turned into one of the best Broadway musicals of all time in 2003. “For me it was a real ‘Go West, young man’ adventure.
Maguire said his first trip to The Open Door dates back almost four decades, when Jay Street was transformed into a pedestrian mall in 1984.
“I loved the incense sticks, the cashmere throws and the scented candles,” he said. “It wasn’t a main store, but there was a counter-culture vibe on Jay Street that was as close to Haight-Ashbury as I was likely to have. The place was a little nervous, a very interesting neighborhood, and I fell in love with The Open Door.
Since his first official author visit in 2001 for his novel “Lost,” Maguire has made seven more trips to the corner of Franklin Street and Jay Street Pedestrian Mall for various book dedications at The Open Door. The most recent came in December 2015 after the release of “After Alice”.
“For a while, I felt like I went there pretty much every year,” Maguire said. “It was a regular stop, one of my favorites, and the mood hasn’t changed.”
All of the major book chains in the country are part of all of Maguire’s signatures, but he has a soft spot for smaller independent stores such as The Open Door.
“If you want to make a living writing books you have to go to all the great places, but I have a special affection for all freelancers,” Maguire said. “They are special and Open Door is one of my favorites.”
Maguire believes her first trip to The Open Door as a teenager was probably back in 1982 or 1983, when owner Janet Hutchison was starting there.
“Janet wears her welcome on her shoulders, like a mink stole – when it was more acceptable,” Maguire said. “She always greeted everyone I saw with the widest, most sincere smile I have ever met. When you walk into a little bookstore, you hope to be enchanted and make a personal connection with someone, and she does. She is interested in what you are looking for, she answers all your questions and she does it with grace. It is a ministry for her.
Maguire believes his first purchase at The Open Door almost 40 years ago was “Higglety Pigglety Pop!” or There Must be More to Life ”, first published in 1967.
“I had plans to become an illustrator, but then thought I would focus on the language rather than my ability to wield pen and ink,” Maguire said. “I loved Sendak’s work. He produced appropriate stuff for third and fourth graders, but it sometimes spoke above their heads to us college kids. These are the kinds of books that places like The Open Door offer.
Maguire’s most recent book, “The Brides of Maracoor”, volume one of a three-part series called “Another Day”, was published last month.
“I’m sure without the pandemic I would have gone back there,” he said. “It was like a designated stop on all of my book tours.”
A look at author Gregory Maguire’s many visits to The Open Door Bookstore and the books he supported at the time:
November 2001: “Lost”
October 2004: “Bouncing Beauty” and “Hachiko Awaits”
November 2007: “What-the-Dickens” and “The Story of the Rogue Tooth Fairy”
December 2008: “A lion among men”
December 2009: “Wicked” – Maguire spoke at the Karen B. Johnson Library and signed books at The Open Door ahead of the opening of the nationwide touring production of “Wicked” at Proctors.
November 2011: “out of Oz”
November 2014: “Egg and Spoon” December 2015: “After Alice”
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Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts