Tuesday, 16 October 2012

In at 9 - The Magical Mimics of Oz by Jack Snow 1946.

In at personal chart favourite number 9 The Magical Mimics of Oz by Jack Snow 1946.

My appreciation of Jack Snow's Magical Mimics of Oz has grown on me somewhat since I first read it! I cannot remember when exactly I read this book, it was as an adult and at the time I had only read a few Thompson books and Edward Einhorn's Paradox of Oz so it is most likely the early 00’s. My edition’s is the Books of Wonder paperback, although I did nearly purchase a first edition at the Winkie convention.

I had read online that Snow was a big fan of Baum's and that he also wrote his Oz solely on Baum's vision ignoring the Thompson and Neil  Oz book edition. 
I recall enjoying the book, but finding its writing style a little to simplistic at the time and devoid of humour and whimsy or mystery of previous Oz books.

I have taken a little longer in writing about this book as I took the time to read it before this post, something that I cannot promise of the other 8 favourites in the chart left to go, I will try where I can.

Since now having read all but one of famous forty Oz books I have a greater appreciation of Magical Mimic's and still rate it above any of Thompson Oz books. Although Thompson does still get some kudos for continuing and often exceeding Baum on puns in Oz!

Snow writes a somewhat dark Oz book that does feel that little bit darker even than Baum solely due to its lack of humour, it is however one of the tightest plotted of all the Oz books the story is direct and there are no real side line adventures along the way apart from maybe Story blossom garden although even this serves a purpose to the plot.

Ozana, Pineville and Story Blossom garden are great addition’s to Oz, the Magical Mimic's the most fearful conquerors since the Nome King and his cronies in Baum’s Emerald City of Oz. 
Dorothy and the Wizard are central to the plot and Baum's Oz citizens although mainly focused upon Scraps, Scarecrow and Toto Aunt Em Uncle Henry are welcome refresh back to long list of Baum’s Oz citizen in Ozma’s court. I noted that Ojo was back to just Ojo the Lucky.

The references to Lurline and some of the early Baum mythology, shows a real passion for Baum's Oz you do really feel that Oz exist! Something that with Thompson carefree writing style and Neill's hap-hazard writing style is lost, as I always got the impression that neither to of the authors believed in Baum's Oz as a real place, as  readers you want to believe in Oz this Baum did understand. Snow as both a fan of Oz and Baum himself writes an Oz you feel exists and does feel like Baum’s Oz for the first time since Glinda of Oz.

I think the area that is lacking hen I say simple style is you know exactly what will happen from the start when Ozma oddly drops in the Magical Mimics to Dorothy into conversation causally, you know what is coming next although the title also gives that away. He tries very hard to get Baum’s tone in his narration and on occasion I felt you little talked down to which is some Baum was a master at avoiding in his writing.

The story is resolved satisfactorily and all is well in the end of course. I would have liked for Jack Snow to have been able to write more about Oz, I think he had a lot more to offer but sadly other than The Shaggy Man of Oz and a character compendium of Who's who in Oz and one short story a Murder in Oz that is all he was able to add to the series, there is fabled manuscript Over the Rainbow to Oz but most Oz fans I have spoken do not believe this exists. 

I think another thing that jarred me the first time is Frank Kramers illustration's they are not even half way as brilliant as John R. Neill's at his most tired illustrations which is a shame after he had held the Royal illustrator mantle so beautifully for forty years. There is the odd glimmer of a great illustration but sadly in the main are all lacking that something special and his version of Dorothy is one of the worst.

It’s a shame that Jack couldn’t have continued the series for a few more years as it would have been interesting to see what he could have added to the series.

It is also a great shame that he lived with such a lack of support from his family and couldn’t deal with his own homosexuality, in time when this was still taboo.

However many of us Oz fans do appreciate his Oz book addition’s and his shift in tone back to Baum’s vision of Oz.

Favourite Oz book personal Chart so far -

10) The Wishing Horse of Oz - Ruth Plumly Thompson
9) The Magical Mimics of Oz - Jack Snow

I'll be back next time with a Rainbow connection that links the 1903 Wizard of Oz play and the MGM Wizard of Oz technicolor musical.