Salon has published letters in reply to the Oz vs. Narnia article of
December 28th. The letters (and a link to the original article) are here:
They didn't publish mine, so with apologies for repeating some of what I
said before, here it is:
I'm always sorry when someone feels obliged to use one of my favorite
authors as a club with which to bash another one of my favorite authors.
Ms. Miller's appreciation of Lewis's qualities is acute - though I find
his prose in the Narnian books more variable than she does - but she
seems deaf to what Baum was trying to accomplish.
For one thing, there is nothing wrong with having some books that
dispense with "disagreeable incident, as long as they're not all like
that. Life can be fun and agreeable at times, and even when it's not,
why not read some fun stuff occasionally? To criticize Baum for this
statement is awfully reminiscent of those who criticize all fantasy for
Besides, he didn't mean it quite that way - for all of Ms. Miller's
protests, there are moments of danger and doubt in Baum. He just wanted
to ensure he didn't scare his child-readers' wigs off. As a former child
who found the supposedly cutesy early Disney films terrifying (watch them
again sometime if you don't believe me), I think Baum had a worthy point
Ms. Miller implicitly condemns all American fantasy for Baum's faults.
Even an author as stylistically similar to Baum as Edward Eager could be
tough-minded enough not to deserve these objections; and many recent
American children's fantasists - Ursula K. Le Guin and Jane Yolen, to
name just two of very many - do not have any of the characteristic
American "smell" of gadgetry and engineering that is sometimes so
offputting to readers weaned on British fantasy.
Some classic British fantasy is subject to Ms. Miller's strictures as
well. A.A. Milne's Pooh books are "safe," reassuring, and purged of the
disagreeable to the point that they make many readers' teeth ache.
Not mine - but then I like Baum too.