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My Ruby Slippers: the Road Back to Kansas
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BOOK DETAILS

Tracy gives an overview of the book:

Sure, there's no place like home--but what if you can't really pinpoint where home is?  By the time she was nine, Tracy Seeley had lived in seven towns and thirteen different houses.  Her father's dreams of movie stardom, stoked by a series of affairs, kept the family on edge, and on the move, until he up and left.  Thirty years later, settled in what seems like a charmed life in San Francisco, a diagnosis of cancer and the betrayal of a lover shake Seeley to her roots--roots she is suddenly determined to search out.  My Ruby Slippers tells the story of that search, the tale of a woman with an impassioned if vague sense of mission: to find the meaning of home. Seeley finds herself in a Kansas that defies memory, a place far more complex and elusive than the sum of its cultural myths.  On back roads and in her many back years, Seeley also finds unexpected forgiveness...
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Sure, there's no place like home--but what if you can't really pinpoint where home is?  By the time she was nine, Tracy Seeley had lived in seven towns and thirteen different houses.  Her father's dreams of movie stardom, stoked by a series of affairs, kept the family on edge, and on the move, until he up and left.  Thirty years later, settled in what seems like a charmed life in San Francisco, a diagnosis of cancer and the betrayal of a lover shake Seeley to her roots--roots she is suddenly determined to search out.  My Ruby Slippers tells the story of that search, the tale of a woman with an impassioned if vague sense of mission: to find the meaning of home.

Seeley finds herself in a Kansas that defies memory, a place far more complex and elusive than the sum of its cultural myths.  On back roads and in her many back years, Seeley also finds unexpected forgiveness for her errant father, and, in the face of mortality, a sense of what it means to be rooted in place, to dwell deeply in the only life we have.

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I hear it in the produce aisle amid the baby artichokes, one drag queen to another.  At the annual Bay to Breakers 12K race, when centipede teams inside hot dogs or Spanish galleons and runners in costumes or nothing at all run the width of the city, seven-plus miles of mayhem.  I hear it at the gay pride parade, or amid the tattooed tribes of the Haight, and at the yearly Halloween bacchanal.  A woman dressed as a light bulb crows to her boyfriend the Faerie Queene, the carnival raging around them, "Gee, Toto, I guess we're not in Kansas anymore."

It's the unofficial San Francisco motto.  The place even looks like the Emerald City rising from the fog, the tips of its towers glistening, when I drive back home across the Bay Bridge.  And every year, when The Wizard of Oz plays at the Castro Theater, a thousand boiserous, costumed celebrants cheer for the Cowardly Lion, mouth all the dialogue and sing every song.  There's no place like home?  Are you kidding?  Nearly everyone I meet here has escaped Kansas or somewhere like it, and no one dreams of going home.  Who would give up her sparkling ruby dancing shoes for a farm house in the middle of a dessicated nowhere?  We've flown the flyover zone.  Our migration has saved us.  Reinvented, reeducated, recoiffed and redeemed, we live fascinating, urbane lives.

Or at least that 's what we tell our satisfied selves.  Most Kansans are rightly sick of the cliches, Dorothy and Oz and the flyover zone.  I will eventually surprise myself by being sick of them, too.  But at the time this book begins, I'd bought into the hype.  And then I decided to return.

 

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'My Ruby Slippers' is a lyric exploration of place and displacement, a tale that resonates no matter where you come from or how often you've moved.

About Tracy

Tracy Seeley's debut work of literary nonfiction, My Ruby Slippers: the Road Back to Kansas, was published in March 2011 by the University of Nebraska Press.  Her essays appear in The Florida Review, Prairie Schooner and other journals, and she has been a...

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