From the Publisher
“A startling, stimulating book filled with angels and scarecrows, gargoyles and garlands, vaudeville and violence. Pynchon goes Munchkin, you might say.”
Washington Post Book World
"The Scarecrow of Oz dying of AIDS in Santa Monica? Uncle Henry a child abuser? Dorothy, grown old and crazy, wearing out her last days in a Kansas nursing home? It's all here, in this magically revisionist fantasy on the themes from The Wizard of Oz."
"Ryman's darkly imaginative, almost surreal improvisation on L. Frank Baum's Oz books combines a stunning portrayal of child abuse, Wizard of Oz film lore and a polyphonic meditation on the psychological burden of the past."
"A mediation on art, lies and human pain. None of Ryman's books is quite like any of the othersthis is one of his most straightforward and best"
Roz Kaveneny, Time Out
Originally published in 1992, Ryman's novel of a darkly reimagined Oz has an elderly Dorothy struggling with memories of child abuse and a young Scarecrow with AIDS journeying to Dorothy's Kansas childhood home.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a darkly imaginative, almost surreal improvisation on L. Frank Baum's Oz books, Dorothy Gael, an orphan churning with rage and self-hatred, is repeatedly sexually abused by her Uncle Henry on their Kansas farm. Sadistic, sanctimonious Aunty Em, who dislikes Dorothy's dog Toto, looks the other way. Rewriting the Oz story as a somber gothic fantasy rich in period detail, Ryman ( The Child Garden ) casts Baum as a substitute teacher who rescues Dorothy from life as a prostitute on the 1880s Kansas frontier. But Dorothy ends up in a mental institution where, as Old Doty, she will be discovered in 1956 by Bill Davison, a caring attendant. In a parallel story set in the 1980s, Jonathan, a gay, Canadian-born horror-film actor dying of AIDS, enters therapy with Bill, now a Los Angeles psychiatrist, who instructs him to visualize that he's in Oz to reenact a childhood obsession. Desperately seeking home, various characters--both real (Judy Garland) and fictional--follow the yellow brick roads of their heart's desires and converge in Kansas. Brilliantly inventive, Was (``a place that never goes away'') combines a stunning portrayal of child abuse, Wizard of Oz film lore and a polyphonic meditation on the psychological burden of the past. (May)