Let’s take a look at the 2017 Oziana, the literary magazine of the International Wizard of Oz Club, which was recently released. There are three stories this time, plus a one-page poetic work. As far as I can remember, the authors’ names are all new to me, which is good inasmuch as I sometimes fear there are only around ten people who read and write for the publication. “Angry Jack,” by Sara Philips, describes what happens when Jack Pumpkinhead lashes out at his friends, and they argue back. Most of the things that anger Jack are valid, and some of those he yells at refuse to even admit their own part in angering him. The explanation for his mood is done with a pun. “Patchworked Memory” is a short piece by Grace Willey, a free-form character sketch of the Patchwork Girl. “The Road Not Taken,” by E.J. Hagadorn, explains the origin of the Yellow Brick Road and identifies its architect as Alonzo Ward, nicknamed Brickabrack, a bricklayer from Hartford. I guess that would be the one in Connecticut, although his letter doesn’t specify. The town received that name in 1637, so that fits with the road’s construction beginning around 1700 according to Paul Dana’s The Magic Umbrella of Oz. Brickabrack has a prophetic vision of the road when he mixes up magic powders at the Wicked Witch of the East’s house, and then hides a note for Dorothy to read before he dies. Finally, we have “Unsociable,” by S.A. Samuelson, focusing on the developing relationship between Reera the Red and Ervic from Glinda of Oz. Reera gets married to Prince Glenn of Portmore in Richard Quinn’s Red Reera the Yookoohoo and the Enchanted Easter Eggs of Oz, largely because she wants a child. In Paul Dana’s upcoming Yookoohoos, however, she’s married to Ervic and they have a kid. Presumably the marriage to Glenn didn’t work out, perhaps because he wasn’t able to father a child, or because the life of a princess clashed too much with her previous largely solitary lifestyle. I remember hearing that Edward Einhorn once joked about the Bumblebeast who appears outside Reera’s home in Living House could be her husband, although that still leaves the question as to whether he’s Glenn or Ervic. There are some tales that give backgrounds for Reera’s ever-changing animal companions as well. One is a black ant who usually takes the form of a horse called Bone White, and another named Thrug is a former familiar of the Wicked Witch of the West who started out as a dragon but was transformed into a donkey. Anyway, Samuelson’s story keeps Reera in character with how L. Frank Baum wrote her. It also deals with the possibility of boredom when living continuously at the same age in an enchanted land, something Marcus Mebes also addressed with Woot the Wanderer in his recent short story “Peer Counseling.” It does seem like he’d eventually run out of places to wander, even considering the possibility of places within Oz that are bigger on the inside than the outside or ones that blink in and out of existence, both of which have been suggested by various authors. One of my favorite observations of the idea of avoiding boredom in a largely unchanging place is the advice the Wizard of Oz gives a newcomer from the United States in Daniel K. Cox’s “Beyond the Rainbow” from the 1978 Oziana: “You see, eternity is better when taken a little at a time.”
I have two Oz books I haven’t started reading yet, Marcus’ fourth volume of The Royal Explorers of Oz and Marin Elizabeth Xiques’ The Fairy Wand of Oz. I’m looking forward to them, but have some library books to finish first.