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Was

All about Oz. Ryman’s fourth novel, Was, is a strange, hydra-headed creature that goes in search of the ”real” Dorothy, reinventing her wicked Aunty Em, her abusive Uncle Henry, and her little dog, too. Was is about the concept of ”home,” but it’s also about the life of a work of art. Ryman is a remarkably inventive writer but his passion for L. Frank Baum and The Wizard of Oz can get cloying. When he writes, ”Oz came swimming to us out of history, because we needed it, because it needed to be,” you can’t help thinking he has been wearing the ruby slippers too long. B+

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