Read Was by Geoff Ryman Free Online
Book Title: Was|
The author of the book: Geoff Ryman
Edition: Penguin Books
Date of issue: May 1st 1993
ISBN 13: 9780140178722
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 9.48 MB
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Reader ratings: 7.8
Read full description of the books:
There's no place like home. There's no place like home. - Dorothy GaleIs that necessarily a bad thing?
We have all had the experience, as kids usually, of seeing something that inspired us. Whether it was to hit a baseball, run faster than anyone else, jump higher, shoot straighter, sing with power and feeling, dance like Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers, or Michael Jackson. Maybe our jaws went slack at a film, a piece of music, a book, and we might have though to ourselves, "I want to do that someday." You might be forgiven, on reading Was, to find your lower jaw losing contact with it's upper, and a desire creeping up your throat, a wish to emulate the wonderful story-telling power Geoff Ryman demonstrates in this book.
Geoff Ryman - image from Slate
Ryman weaves his tale around Wizard of Oz themes. The Dorothy here is an orphan who arrives in Manhattan, Kansas in 1875, with Toto to live with the impoverished Aunt Em and her less than friendly mate, Uncle Henry, who will eventually abuse her. Dorothy is miserable. Her family is believed to have died of “the Dip”, diphtheria. Her father left the family before that. She befriends a teenager, a boy who longs to get away. He does, but by hanging himself. Dorothy despises Em, but is resigned to her fate, changing from sweet to dangerous in the process. Frank Baum shows up in a cameo as an inspirational substitute teacher. Dorothy is later shown as an old woman, who piques the interest of Bill, a football hero teenager soon to join the military. He becomes another thread, altering totally, finding an interest in psychology. He later becomes a shrink.
Jonathan is a gay actor, shown as a troubled child, then as a dying AIDS victim. He is the reincarnation of the real Dorothy’s suicidal friend. He connects to Bill, who is his shrink, and goes to Kansas to search for the locale of the real Oz story.
Another thread is of Judy Garland, her early upbringing as the youngest in a vaudevillian family, one in which dad is really gay and hooks up with the local boys until he is discovered and run out of town. Mom, ignored by dad, takes on local guys as well, but eventually leaves Dad to keep from being constantly on the run. Judy is portrayed kindly, as a nice, talented girl.
This is a very moving, if depressing tale, a very interesting interweaving of various views on a central theme. Jonathan, mirroring the film, has color-blindness issues. It is a masterwork that made me want to weep for the sadness of the characters, but also sag at knowing that, as many times as I might click my heels together, I will never be able to fashion such a magnificent tale. Sometimes the mountain is just too high, and our road takes us around it instead of up and over. Was is simply one of the best books I have ever read.
Link to Ryman's Twitter feed.
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Read information about the authorGeoffrey Charles Ryman (born 1951) is a writer of science fiction, fantasy and slipstream fiction. He was born in Canada, and has lived most of his life in England.
His science fiction and fantasy works include The Warrior Who Carried Life (1985), the novella The Unconquered Country (1986) (winner of the British Science Fiction Award and the World Fantasy Award), and The Child Garden (1989) (winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Campbell Award). Subsequent fiction works include Was (1992), Lust (2001), and Air (2005) (winner of the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, the British Science Fiction Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and on the short list for the Nebula Award).
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