The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Chapter I. — The Cyclone

Tonight's Soundtrack: Pixies, "Silver"


The Land of Oz is no dream. Kansas is a fucking nightmare.

The first chapter of Wizard is the world's saddest short story, punctuated with tragic poems and telegrams full of bad news, printed on yellowing obituary notices with the names misspelt. Just unrelentingly bleak, in all directions, with every sentence revealing another layer of dust and dismay.

The land is flat and featureless. The sun has burnt the grass past brown and into gray. In this wasteland is a house - call it house, but it's literally four walls, a roof and a floor. Three people live in this room - two adults and a child - so it has their beds, and a table, and the stove for cooking. Oh, and somebody dug a hole in the dirt underneath it, just in case they need to escape the frequent killer winds.

And get this: it's also supposed to be a farm. You know, where the sun has blistered the paint off the shack, and not even the grass grows. The child? Oh yeah, she lives here because her parents are dead. The aunt who has taken her in literally screams and clutches at her heart when she hears the child make any happy noise. Her uncle, its said, never laughs, because he's too busy raising crops out of the barren cracked earth all day, every day.

It's not a picture of simple, homespun folk with heartland values. It's not just boring or lacking in rainbows. It's crippling, deadly poverty. It's people who have had the joy weathered out of them completely by an unforgiving world.

And then a goddamn cyclone hits them.

* * *

Luckily for Dorothy Gale, she has a dog.