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willemite

willemite

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Hieroglyph: Stories and Blueprints for a Better Future
Neal Stephenson
Ukraine: Zbig's Grand Chessboard & How the West Was Checkmated
Natylie Baldwin, Kermit D. Larson
The Girl on the Train: A Novel
Paula Hawkins
Our Souls at Night: A novel
Kent Haruf
Above the Waterfall
Ron Rash
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Stephen King
Designs on Film: A Century of Hollywood Art Direction
Cathy Whitlock
The Homicide Report: Understanding Murder in America
Jill Leovy
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
Erik Larson
The Gods of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Was - Geoff Ryman Several threads interweave around Wizard of Oz themes. The Dorothy here is an orphan who arrives in 1875’s Manhattan Kansas with Toto to live with the impoverished Aunt Em and her less than friendly mate, Uncle Henry, who will eventually abuse her. Dorothy is miserable. Her family is believed to have died of “the Dip”, diphtheria. Her father left the family before that. She befriends a teenager, a boy who longs to get away. He does, but by hanging himself. Dorothy despises Em, but is resigned to her fate. Dorothy changes from sweet to dangerous. Frank Baum makes a cameo appearance as an inspirational substitute teacher. Dorothy is later shown as an old woman, who piques the interest of Bill, a football hero teenager soon to join the military. He becomes another thread, altering totally, finding an interest in psychology. He later becomes a shrink.

Jonathan is a gay actor, shown as a troubled child, then as a dying AIDS victim. He is the reincarnation of the real Dorothy’s suicidal friend. He connects to Bill, who is his shrink, and goes to Kansas to search for the locale of the real Oz story.

Another thread is of Judy Garland, her early upbringing as the youngest in a vaudevillian family, one in which dad is really gay and hooks up with the local boys until he is discovered and run out of town. Mom, ignored by dad, takes on local guys as well, but eventually leaves Dad to keep from being constantly on the run. Judy is portrayed kindly, as a nice, talented girl.

This is a very moving, if depressing tale, very interestingly interweaving various views on a central theme. Jonathan, mirroring the film, has color-blindness issues. It is a masterwork that made me want to cry for the sadness of the characters, but also cry for the knowledge that I will never be able to fashion such a tale.