Monday, May 20, 2013


Blogger is at it again - terrorizing me with little surprises.  Today, the spellcheck icon has disappeared.  Prepare yourselves; I am a lousy proffreader.

I became interested in the genre called "Magical realism" after reading Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel.  The novel puzzled me a lot, and it wasn't until several years later when the book came up in conversation with a co-worker, a Spanish teacher.  Kay told me about the characerteristics of South American fiction, and schooled me on magical realism.  Reading the book the second time with that info in hand made all the difference. For months, I suffereded from MR OCD, reading everyhthing I could find, yet Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits always landed on the bottom of the pile, problably because of the political plot element.  Politics always complicats things for me.  For some reason, I grabbed it last weekend and was hooked in the first few pages.

In MR novels, the plot moves along normally and naturally, characters evolve believably, and conflicts ebb and flow as they do in our own lives.  But, tucked in the midst of all that normalcy, will be a character with an unnatural attribute - like outrageously long life, or the ability to see people and hear things that aren't there, or a knack for smelling the future.  Funny thing is, these odd traits are not treated oddly, they simply blen into to story line, and we, the readers are asked to accept them with the same ease as those interacting with the story character.  MR gets a  lot more complicated, but that is enough to jump start anyone's appreciation of the style.

 Kay also said there is a lot of over the top, drama queen-ish behavior but I guess I didn't notice that.  With so much time spent working on small thetre projexts, I guess I have trained myself to overlook the drama queens in my world.
Allende's book covers four generation.  A daughter in generation one has green hair. If there is an explanation, I missed it.    Genration one also has a child with a narrow ability to see the future.  At a young age, she knows that her green haired sister will die and she will marry the sister's betrothed years later.  Two of the women in separate generations become selectivly mute and manuever through years in a sort of Marcel Marceau fog.  Earlier, both had threatened to never speak again if certain actions were taken, and they stay true to their words.   

This all sounds a bit silly, but somehow, the magical elements intensfy the threads of pain running through this story.  It's as if those special gifts some how protect certain characters from the totality of the grief they would otherwise have felt.  In the final analysis, it's just magic, I guess.

*****My friend Lucy sent me this fun photo of 21- year old Kenneth Brannagh with Brian Blessed.  They were performing  Henry V at Stratford-Upon-Avon in 1984 and stopped to sign autographs.

Thanks Lucy!

*****I have never been too much of a Stephen King fan.  Nothing against him personally, I just don't like being frightened.   However, after his latest move, I have joined Team Stephen.  Becasue he loves traditional books, bookstores, and especially indie bookstores, his new novel, Joyland, will be published only in paper. 

 Thanks Stephen!

And thank you for stopping by.  I will have some exciting new to share in the coming weeks.