Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Oz Audio Collection, by L. Frank Baum, narrated by Ray Bolger [audio]

I love Oz books and I love the dry, humorous delivery of Flo Gibson's narrations of Wizard of Oz and Land of Oz. So, I was very excited to discover this collection, which includes Wizard of Oz, Land of Oz, Queen Zixi of Ix, and Little Oz Stories - narrated by Ray Bolger! But....

It's abridged. To get the full flavour of Baum, you need to hear all the sly jokes, nonsensical little details, and solemn moral pronouncements.

Ray Bolger was a fun scarecrow in the movie, but he's not a good narrator. His Jack Scarecrow sounds like he's talking through a mouthful of pumpkin pie and he gives a horribly racist accent to the pawnbroker in Little Oz Stories.

And why pick Zixi of Ix and Little Oz Stories? These are definitely not the best of Baum's writing, especially Little Oz Stories which breaks most of the rules for Oz fantasies by sending the characters to America. In addition, it's heavy on social commentary without Baum's normally humorous slant.

I read it from beginning to end. I read it from end to beginning. It didn't make any difference. It's all dialogue and no plot. However interesting a book which can be read backwards is, one still wants something to happen.

Verdict: A historical curiosity perhaps, but disappointing all the same.

ISBN: 978-1559949514; Published March 1994 by Festival, out of print; borrowed from the library

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