KELLY LINK is the author of two story collections, Stranger Things Happen and Magic for Beginners, which was named one of Salon.com's Top 10 Fiction Books of 2005.

[An excerpt]

"Dorothy Gale," she said.
          "I guess so." He said it grudgingly. Maybe he wished that he'd thought of it first. Maybe he didn't think going home again was all that heroic.
          They were sitting on the side of a mountain. Above them, visitors to the Land of Oz theme park had once sailed, in molded plastic gondola balloons, over the Yellow Brick Road. Some of the support pylons tilted or tipped back against scrawny little opportunistic pines. There was something majestic about the felled pylons now that their work was done. They looked like fallen giants. Moth-eaten blue ferns grew over the peeling yellow bricks.
          The house of Dorothy Gale's aunt and uncle had been cunningly designed. You came up the path, went into the front parlor and looked around. You were led through the kitchen. There were dishes in the kitchen cabinets. Daisies in a vase. Pictures on the wall. Follow your Dorothy down into the cellar with the other families, watch the tornado swirl around on the dirty dark wall, and when everyone tramped up the other, identical set of steps through the other, identical cellar door, it was the same house, same rooms, but tornado-wrecked. The parlor floor now slanted so that it was a relief to leave through the (back) front door, where you saw with mingled delight and horror that there was a pair of plaster legs sticking out from under the house. A pair of ruby slippers. A yellow brick road. You weren't in North Carolina anymore.
          The whole house was a ruin now. None of the pictures hung straight. There were salamanders in the walls, and poison ivy and mushrooms coming up in the kitchen sink. Mushrooms in the cellar, and an old mattress that someone had dragged down the stairs. You had to hope Dorothy Gale had moved on.
          It was four in the afternoon and they were both slightly drunk. Her name was Bunnatine Powderfinger. She called him Biscuit.
          She said, "Come on, of course she is. The ruby slippers, those are like her special power. It's all about how she was a superhero the whole time, only she didn't know it. And she comes to Oz from another world. Like Superman in reverse. And she has lots of sidekicks." She pictured them skipping down the road, arm in arm. Facing down evil. Dropping houses on it, throwing buckets of water at it. Singing stupid songs and not even caring if anyone was listening.
          He grunted. She knew what he thought. Sidekicks were for people who were too lazy to write personal ads. "The Wizard of Oz. He even has a secret identity. And he wants everything to be green, all of his stuff is green, just like Green Lantern."
          The thing about green was true, but so beside the point that she could hardly stand it. The Wizard of Oz was a humbug. She said, "But he's not great and powerful. He just pretends to be great and powerful. The Wicked Witch of the West is greater and more powerfuller. She's got flying monkeys. She's like a mad scientist. She even has a secret weakness. Water is like Kryptonite to her." She'd always thought the actress Margaret Hamilton was damn sexy. The way she rode that bicycle and the wind that picked her up and carried her off like an invisible lover; that funny, mocking, shrill little piece of music coming out of nowhere. That nose.


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