Songs in Oz

With book number ten, I feel like I’ve reached a milestone in my journey through L. Frank Baum’s original Oz novels. Rinkitink in Oz opens up on the Island of Pingaree in the Nonestic Ocean, some distance from the land of Oz. The title character, king of a land adjacent to the domain of the Nome King, which we’ve visited in several other Oz adventures, arrives on Pingaree with his talking goat Bilbil. He’s a jolly sort who is happy to enjoy all the perks of being a king, but really doesn’t want the responsibility. He’s happy to eat, swap stories, and sing, but doesn’t really want to do the hard work.

Soon after Rinkitink arrives in Pingaree, the island is invaded by a force from the twin islands of Regos and Coregos. The people of Pingaree, including the island’s king and queen, are hauled away as slaves. Rinkitink, Bilbil, and the island’s young prince, Inga, are the only ones who elude capture. Fortunately, Inga had just learned about three magical pearls which give him hope for rescuing his people. One pearl gives him great strength, one gives him invulnerability, the third one gives him sage advice. With the pearls of strength and invulnerability ensconced in the prince’s shoes, he sets out with Rinkitink and Bilbil to rescue his people. All along the way, Rinkitink is happy to entertain his traveling companions with a song.

I’ve always found it interesting when songs appear on the pages of novels. I often find myself trying to sing the words and I wonder how close I might have come to what the author heard in their head. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been listening to these novels on audio. The Librivox recording of Rinkitink that I listened to featured a full cast. The good king was acted, and sung, by an audiobook narrator named Angleet. I thought he did a fantastic job singing Rinkitink’s songs. I don’t know if the melodies were those Baum heard in his head, but they were nicely done and felt true to the fairy tale-like atmosphere of the Oz books

In reading the Oz books to date, I’ve had the impression that L. Frank Baum was a fan of the Brothers Grimm. We see evidence of that in Dorothy’s magical shoes, the talking animals of Oz, and the witches, both good and evil. That noted, the books still have a distinctly American flavor as plucky, independent adventurers such as Dorothy or Trot find their way through the dangers of these lands. For much of its length, Rinkitink feels the most like a Grimm fairy tale of all these novels. In fact, our familiar Oz denizens don’t come into the story until the final chapters of the novel. At the risk of a spoiler, the most American aspect of this novel is how Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz come riding to Inga and Rinkitink’s rescue near the novel’s end.

Like Baum, I’m a fan of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I’ve translated a few of the tales and done my own retellings. They are available in the anthologies Gaslight and Grimm and It Came From Her Purse. Click on the links to learn more about the books.

Also, this coming weekend is the second installment of Buboni-Virtual-Con. I will be on the panel “Writing Badass Women,” which is scheduled from 6:30-7:30pm Mountain Daylight Time on Saturday, August 21. The schedule for the entire convention and information about how to watch the panels from your computer will be on Bubonicon’s website at: http://www.bubonicon.com/.

It Came From Her Purse

My story “Dusty Violet and Bleached Bones” is now available in the anthology It Came From Her Purse, published by Hiraeth Publishing. “Dusty Violet and Bleached Bones” is a dieselpunk fairy tale set during New Mexico’s dust bowl. Billy Bones dreams of getting as far away from the desert southwest as possible. He’d love nothing more than joining a pirate crew and look for buried treasure. Violetta is a Native American girl escaping Santa Fe’s Indian School. The two find themselves pursued by none other than La Llorona.

It Came From Her Purse is an anthology of literal and figurative purses, not to mention a variety of containment systems! Viewing the contents of a woman’s purse can be a frightening experience, or so I’ve been told … the editors would extend this fright to include men’s satchels, go-bags, and such. Check out this anthology that peers into the collective psyches of artists, poets, and storytellers to bring forth these oft quirky, occasionally demented, and definitely fantastical tales! The anthology is edited by Terrie Leigh Relf and Marcia A. Borell,

This is a slim book, but it’s packed with some nice stories and poems. Tyree Campbell’s “Hermit Crab” imagines a scientist who looks for intelligent life out in space and owns a pendant she doesn’t realize connects her with life from another kind of realm. “Live by the Sword…” by t. santitoro imagines a school student who discovers her eraser can make more than the lines on the page vanish. The subject of “Pandora’s Purse” by Tim Mendees is pretty obvious from the title, but he brings the story into the modern era and gives it some nice twists. Steven Wittenberg Gordon’s “Results are Guaranteed” is a story about a man who visits a weight loss clinic and meets a doctor who produces astonishingly good results. “Tangled Fate” by Scott Coon tells a story from the perspective of objects that no good purse should be without, yo-yos! As it turns out, there are only a few literal purses in these stories. In most cases, the “purses” are a metaphor for the power wielded by one of the story’s women.

In addition to the short stories, there are four poems which follow the same themes as the stories. Of the poems, my favorite was “Shopping for Voodoo Dolls” by Marge Simon, but the poems by Francis W. Alexander, Gary Davis and John C. Mannone were all well done.

It Came From Her Purse is available at Amazon.com and directly from the publisher, Hiraeth Publishing.