Tuesday, September 27, 2011

“A screaming comes across the sky.”

I found The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. So much for memory.

I remember buying a copy of the Books of Wonder edition of Wizard for the son of our contractor. The contractor had borrowed a copy of the recent University of Nebraska edition of Baum’s Twinkle Tales, a collection of fantasies starring a girl named Twinkle that were actually set on the prairie, rather than in a separate fantasy land like Oz (or Mo or Ix). The contractor’s son reportedly loved the book, but had never read The Wizard of Oz so when I saw the Books of Wonder edition at the used bookstore I bought it as a gift.

The contractor had had the strange notion I’d be doing him a big boon in his seven-year-old son’s eyes if I found an original edition of The Twinkle Tales. The contractor’s own eyes clearly glazed over when I said the U of NE paperback is the first time all those stories appeared together and tracking down the originals would be very expensive and … And I knew having some dumb collectible wouldn’t be any fun for a small boy.

When I found the copy of Wizard in good condition without a dust jacket I knew it the better choice. A couple weeks later the boy came to the house with his mother and, after parental prodding, thanked me for the book. But what gratified me more than a few mumbled words was the way he hung onto the book and swung it around while he talked about it and talked about how he liked the Wicked Witch.

I liked the Books of Wonder edition and decided I would get one for myself. So I guess it seemed like a lot of time passed between the purchases. Must not have. Because I discovered the copy I bought for myself (also used, but with dust jacket!) at the bottom of the shelves I shoved my Oz books onto, hidden behind cardboard to keep the construction dust from coating them (& to protect from cats peeing). Time elongated over the course of that renovation …

Finding the book after looking for it so long was almost a disappointment. I’d taken to picturing myself paging through other editions in search of the perfect unDenslow Wizard, thus shaking up my settled notion of the classic. Okay, so I was wrong about the book not being purchased “long after things had to be gotten out of the way of the workers and the dust.” My tactile memory was good, even if my chronology was whack. And, having looked over another illustrator at the bookstore I ducked into on my way home from the dentist this morning, I’m good with W.W.

I did buy an Oz book while I was there. Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. Also a Books of Wonder edition. Nice color plates. I got it for 20% off because I was able to identify the opening sentence the bookseller had written as a challenge on the chalkboard on the sidewalk. “You Googled it!” he said. Oh please.

“A screaming comes across the sky.”

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Mysterious Disappearance of Oz

Sometime in the last year I found a like-new copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz at a local used bookstore. It’s a recent edition created by Books of Wonder & Morrow, but it is modeled after the first edition of Wizard and W.W. Denslow’s beautiful design.

I’ve been imagining rereading the Oz series, all 40+ books, and I was thinking that recent acquisition would be a fine place to start. Y’gotta start with Wizard, of course, but there are many editions and many illustrators who have added their vision to Baum’s. Being as I fell in love with Wizard reading a Dover edition, a paperback which does a pretty good job of reproducing Denslow’s design – as well as his illustrations – and considering I virtually have the book memorized I read it so many times as a child, perhaps it would make the reread a fresher experience if I took advantage of an edition illustrated by someone very unlike Denslow.


… No, no. It’s not a bad thought, actually.

A thought that probably would not have entered my head had not that nice BoW/M edition gone missing. I have no idea where it could be. I haven’t dug down to the bottom of every pile or opened every stacked box, but I was sure I had no need to. Since the renovation completed we’ve been unpacking boxes, not filling them. I don’t remember when exactly I bought this new edition, but it was quite recently, long after things had to be gotten out of the way of the workers and the dust. So where could it have hidden itself?

Monday, September 05, 2011


For LoveSettlement, my other blog, I set up a Sitemeter, but for Dare I Read I haven’t had any statistics. Until this week. When Blogger decided at last to offer some up on the publishing dashboard.

I didn’t have a Sitemeter on DIR because when I signed up for it, it didn’t look like you could have more than one. Maybe that changed or maybe I just didn’t understand the way it worked. But LuvSet got so few visitors that the stats service told me little; it hardly seemed worth bothering with. The one thing that seemed clear, the more frequently I posted, the fewer visitors I got. The “Thousand” project, which has been just about all LuvSet’s been occupied with this 490 days, sure hasn’t brought in the readers.

When I got the Sitemeter I was making efforts to promote LuvSet. DIR I was just letting gather what eyeballs it could on its own. I didn’t figure people would care that much about my reading. My one test to see if DIR was getting noticed was adding Google Adsense. I forget how long the ads have been there, hunkered down in the right hand column. Two years? Three? Five? You don’t get a check until the ads have earned $100. So far the account has accrued $7.01. Only $93 away from getting paid. Thanks, new dashboard! I haven’t checked the account in ages. Now it’s so easy to see.

So it’s fun to see info you used to have to search for. I now know which is my most popular post: Dialect in Wuthering Heights

The post (from 2008) gets twice the page views of any other on DIR, not just in the history of the blog, but every day.

The top four most visited posts are all from 2008. The fifth is from May of this year.

If you’re curious, they are:

#2 Stegosaurus v. Tyrannosaurus

#3 Ant Head Sutures

#4 The French in Tropic of Cancer

#5 Cowboys and Pistols

And to put this in perspective, not even the Wuthering Heights post has yet had a thousand visitors.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

what I picked up at SF Zine Fest

The Comic Book Guide to the Mission: a cartoon tour through San Francisco’s Mission District collected and edited by Lauren Davis

Kiss and Tell: a romantic resume, ages 0 to 22 by MariNaomi

Estrus Collection, vol. 2 by MariNaomi

Elf World Vol. 2, No.2 edited by Francois Vigneault

Ebb and Flood no. 1 by Brian Herrick

a painting of a falling robot by Adam Davis

also a bunch of postcards, most of them free promo, one or two purchased