Sunday, October 9, 2011

lizard of oz

Here is a story by a local author, written in 1974. I remember reading this book not long after it came out, after being turned on to it by my older sister. She had read it based, I think, on the recommendations of her friends. She had borrowed it from the library, and when she returned it, I went to the library and searched for it. Years later I still remembered the characters, and even some of the illustrations. I wanted to read it again, but couldn't remember the title. When I asked my sister, she didn't recall what the book was. The fragments I remembered, with the help of the internets, finally gave me what I was looking for.

The Lizard of Oz, by Richard Seltzer you should click here and see what Seltzer is up to is a modern day fairytale (or was in 1974). Seltzer tells in the afterword how he started the book in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1971, and finished it over the next few years, finally hiring a recent UMass graduate, Christin Couture, to illustrate the story. The illustrations are what I remembered most about the story.

The story itself is a morality tale; a collection of re-tellings of other myths and fables--laced together with puns and Couture's illustrations--in that outlandish genre popular in the early 70s that gave us Yellow Submarine, Charlie & Chocolate Factory, and its movie adaptation, Monty Python's Flying Circus, and the animated version of The Hobbit. You know what I'm talking about: that late, hippiesque, psychedelic, zany genre that was pretty popular with the toke and giggle crowd.

Seltzer has a serious message hidden in the story about making sure we don't lose our grip on what it means to live an 'enchanted' life, and he illustrates it by recalling to mind all of those other myths and fables we all know, and reminding us, that these stories are all telling us the same thing, regardless of their individual morals. The quest, taken up by a small elementary school class from Winthrop, along with their teachers, a green Volkswagen Beatle, and their talking fish, is to rediscover the magic that's ebbing away from our modern lives, and bring it back to us, before its too late.

And talking bacon. Angry, talking bacon... who also happens to be the public librarian.


  1. OMG, the 70's. Did I recommend that? Hmm, I may want to read it again now that I have matured, sort of.

  2. Mermaid, click on the link in the last paragraph (angry Bacon) and it will take you to an illustrated online version that may jog your memory.


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