Sunday, September 18, 2016

This Week's Oz Short Story

This weekend I continued my reading of Oziana with the second story, "The Improbable Forest" by Harry Mongold from the 1973 issue. Technically speaking, it's not really a short story, but three chapters from the then-unpublished novel The Sawhorse of Oz. (Mongold would later go on to privately publish the entire novel in 1981, and yes, I have it. Hmm, maybe that could be something to throw onto the reread pile.) Fortunately for readers of Oziana over forty years ago, this excerpt works very well as a self-contained short story. The Sawhorse, having gotten separated from the rest of the adventure, is trying to find his way to Glinda's castle so she con intervene. (Considering how many times the Sawhorse has made that run from the Emerald City to Glinda's and back, he must have gotten way off course to forget the way!) HE wanders into the Improbable Forest, an area where unlikely things happen quite frequently. Among the denizens he meets is a sprite who may have been at least partially responsible for enchanting that forest in the first place. She recruits the Sawhorse to help defeat her nemesis, an enchanted green serpent. The Sawhorse, after a couple of little mini-adventures, finds the serpent, but things do not go anywhere near the plan! It all turns out well in the end, however, and the Sawhorse even manages to find his way to Glinda's as a result. I liked it, and remembered just enough of the complete novel to put it in its place. It's a good thing this takes place in an Improbable Forest, however, as the Sawhorse is pulling the Red Wagon the entire time! I find it highly improbable that the forest could be navigable for the Red Wagon, or that it didn't at least get all kinds of bumps and scrapes and scratches. But maybe the Improbable Forest had a way of making that easier. (Either that or the Sawhorse just has a lot of experience hauling that thing around in any conditions.)

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