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 became the staple. one of the best Broadway musicals. all the time in 2003. For me it was a real Go West, young man, kind of 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 which was as close to Haight-Ashbury as I was likely to have. The place was a little edgy, 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 almost 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 nationwide are included in all of Maguires’ 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 83, 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 from The Open Door almost 40 years ago was Maurice Sendaks Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must be More to Life, first published in 1967.
I had a few plans to become an illustrator, but then thought I would focus on language rather than my pen and ink skills, Maguire said. I loved the work of Sendaks. 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 if it hadn’t been for the pandemic I would have gone back, he said. It was like a designated stop on all of my book tours.
A look at author Gregory Maguires on his many visits to The Open Door Bookstore and the books he supported at the time:
November 2001: Lost
October 2004: The Leaping Beauty and Hachiko are waiting
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 national production of Wicked at Proctors.
November 2011: Out of Oz
November 2014: Egg and SpoonDecember 2015: After Alice
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