As many guest speakers in Kansas do, Margaret Atwood began her much-anticipated speech with an allusion to “The Wizard of Oz.”
Only this time it wasn’t something the 1,100 attendees in the room had heard a million times before. This time it was a query, not a cliché. And it elicited genuine — not merely polite — laughter.
“You’re not in Kansas anymore? What does that mean? What is ‘Not Kansas’?” asked the renowned Canadian author, who, after a dramatic pause, proceeded to riff on the constructs of “Kansas” (staid, familiar, safe) and “Not Kansas” (exciting, exotic, dangerous) and ended by exhorting: “Kansas, go up against Not Kansas! Create an embarrassing pop star of your own.”