Books: Unlocked Doors

BIRD, KANSAS by Tony Parker

Knopf; 327 pages; $19.95

It is a little like The Wizard of Oz played backward. British journalist Tony Parker gets caught up in a brainstorm with his editor and is blown from batty Albion into the middle of humdrum Kansas. There, in Dorothy's native land, he finds not a winding yellow brick road but a grid of blacktop highways crossing one another at predictable right angles. Instead of tin men and cowardly lions, there is a pride of stolid citizens unashamed of their placid routines and quick with the thank-yous and have-a-nice-days. Wicked witches? Nope, but...

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