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Regardless of what nationality, race, or gender, people search for meaning in their lives, people repeatedly express a desire for spiritual fulfillment. Not in Kansas Anymore is an account of a journalist’s research into occult religions, an attempt to answer why magic is becoming so popular in America. “To accept that transcendence is imaginary, that epiphany is delusional, is to accept a state of spiritual impoverishment…” (p.32). Wicker gets high marks from me for keeping an open mind and remaining objective throughout her journey. Wicker documents her visits with vampires, voodoo priests, and hoodoo priestesses from Salem to New Orleans.  She interacts with a wooden puppet that predicts people’s deaths, a vegetarian vampire, and many others. All the people she meets along the way are different, but a common thread ties them together: each one carries with them a sense of enchantment. ‘…the truth of life’s wonders is constantly revolving itself all around us…whether those things exist outside the human imagination or merely it doesn’t matter as much to me as it does to some people.  What matters is that we can allow ourselves to participate in the richness around us.  All we have to do is chose. (p. 88)” 

For Wicker it seems that the real reason why magic is so popular is that we are seeking fulfillment for a loftier purpose, that we know that somewhere things are better than just the way they are. As one of those seekers, I found this conclusion far more respectful than Luhrman’s ‘they are delusional’ or Ginzburg’s historical patterns are repeated. Wicker writes in an easy, almost conversational style, with an honest and uplifting tone.  I recommend Not in Kansas Anymore to anyone who needs a good laugh, or even as some encouragement that they are not alone. 

~review by Lisa Mc Sherry

Author: Christine Wicker

Harper San Francisco, 2005

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