While I was AWP this last year, I found out about a new journal, the Fairy Tale Review, that publishes my kind of writing: reinterpretations of Fairy Tales, translations, and scholarly articles about fairy tales, and this year their call for submissions was looking for stories about the Land of Oz.
I developed an idea, but to make sure it would work with the world that L. Frank Baum had created, I decided I should probably read all the novels of Oz, just to make sure I got all the history right. And guess how many there are…Baum alone wrote 14 Ozian novels (as well as some shorter bits) and then after his death, his publisher contracted with other authors to write several more. The scope of tales about Oz and its surrounding countries is extensive and deep. Baum’s tales include the list below:
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
- The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904)
- Ozma of Oz (1907)
- Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908)
- The Road to Oz (1909)
- The Emerald City of Oz (1910)
- The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1913)
- Tik-Tok of Oz (1914)
- The Scarecrow of Oz (1915)
- Rinkitink in Oz (1916)
- The Lost Princess of Oz (1917)
- The Tin Woodman of Oz (1918)
- The Magic of Oz (1919, posthumously published)
- Glinda of Oz (1920, posthumously published)
My favorite of all the stories was The Marvelous Land of Oz because we get to meet HM Wogglebug TE, a bug of unusual size and education who makes the worst puns I have ever heard. His traveling companions aren’t too fond of them either. But the whole thing is such an excellent farce of the culture and society surrounding education at that time that I couldn’t help but laugh.
There was one book, however, that I found terrifying in its absurdity: The Tin Woodman of Oz. This is a tale where Nick Chopper is convinced to go find his beloved and offer himself again to her. However, there are horrific twists and turns that I’m sure to a child were delightful, but to an adult were almost too dark. Just imagine a man made of the glued together chopped up bits of two separate men who goes on to marry the woman that those two men had loved before becoming metal…shudder. I can see that done as a Saw worthy sequel…
The books, for all that they are meant for a younger audience, are very entertaining and well worth the read, particularly if you’ve only ever read or seen the film made after the first book. They are much funnier, and incredibly intelligent parodies of American turn of the century culture, much as Flatland was to the Victorian culture.