Saturday, May 19, 2007

Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz

Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (Books of Wonder)

L. Frank Baum

  —   $16.49   —   Book

product page


Fiction, Fantasy, Children's

This is a very strange novel.

It's probably topical, written shortly after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. No doubt this seized the imagination of Baum, so the return trip from Australia takes Dorothy through a bit of California where, wouldn't you know it, an earthquake opens up the ground and swallows her down, carriage, cousin, kitten and horse.

As someone who has grown up in California and who has studied earthquakes, I can assure you that this almost never happens.

Dorothy and her companions fall down into a glass city filled with vegetable people, and are shortly joined by the hapless Wizard of the first book, who has been ballooning in circuses again and who sank through the earth in much the same manner. The rest of the books deal with the perils of the lands they travel through in an attempt to reach the surface again, only to be trapped by a too-small egress at the top...

... and then a deus ex machina ending when Dorothy remembers that Ozma checks on her at a certain time every day. Which of course she didn't remember the previous several days when they were in mortal peril.

As has been said in other places, Baum's work, while imaginative in the extreme and often highly entertaining, does have a bit of a letdown when it comes to properly designed endings. He does not subscribe to the theory of magic as the last resort. Ruth Plumly Thompson, who continued the Oz series after Baum's death, was certainly a better plotter. (One can argue for quite some time about who wrote the better books; I certainly invite you to comment on the same. One can also debate about which writer wrote the more likeable books.)

So after the rescue, there's a lovely party at the palace and then Dorothy gets sent home. Another Oz book under the belt.

No comments: