Author Topic: What is your favorite book in Magical Realism?  (Read 555 times)  

Offline JKRiya

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What is your favorite book in Magical Realism?
« on: October 26, 2016, 04:16:59 AM »
Mine is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

It felt mysterious, cozy and magical.

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Re: What is your favorite book in Magical Realism?
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2016, 07:57:02 AM »
I find "magical realism" to be a rather vague classification. Is any/some/most "urban fantasy" also "magical realism"? Are horror stories about ghosts "magical realism", or just supernatural horror?

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Magical realism, magic realism, or marvelous realism is literature, painting, film, and theater that, while encompassing a range of subtly different concepts, share in common an acceptance of magic in the rational world. It is also sometimes called fabulism, in reference to the conventions of fables, myths, and allegory. Of the four terms, Magical realism is the most commonly used and refers to literature in particular[1]:15 that portrays magical or unreal elements as a natural part in an otherwise realistic or mundane environment.

The terms are broadly descriptive rather than critically rigorous. Matthew Strecher defines magic realism as "what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe."[2] Many writers are categorized as "magical realists," which confuses the term and its wide definition.[3] Magical realism is often associated with Latin American literature, particularly authors including Gabriel Garca Mrquez, Miguel Angel Asturias, and Isabel Allende. In English literature, its chief exponents include Salman Rushdie and Alice Hoffman.
~ wikipedia

But, I'll go out on a limb and suggest that Drew Hayes' Pears and Perils might qualify as such, and possibly even Death and the Penguin, by Andrey Kurkov; both books I really enjoyed. The latter is only magical realism if you feel the whole penguin aspect of the story is magical, which I pretty much did. From my review:

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Then there is Misha the penguin (not to be confused with Misha-Not-a-Penguin) who at first seems a curious affectation within the story, and eventually becomes an important plot element. As the story went on, I started to feel at times that Misha was also an avatar of the reader: watching the other characters join the dance around Viktor, the aspiring writer and protagonist, and sometimes exiting stage left or right, often under mysterious circumstances.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2016, 12:29:50 PM by NogDog »

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Offline The Hooded Claw

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Re: What is your favorite book in Magical Realism?
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2016, 08:57:24 AM »


This is definitely my favorite magical realism book, because it's the only one I've read, and I didn't know about magical realism until I saw it mentioned in the foreword and looked it up. In favor of the book is that this is not my style, yet the book was still interesting enough that I read it all the way through quickly. I'd only been attracted by the curious title!

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Offline The Hooded Claw

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Re: What is your favorite book in Magical Realism?
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2016, 09:04:30 AM »
below is the overlong review I wrote of "Fistfight in Heaven."


The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, by Sherman Alexie

I'd never heard of this book, but it appears to have been a huge hit in the literary world a ways back. Long enough ago that this is the Twentieth Anniversary Edition, which I picked up at a celebratory sale price. I admit that the only reason I looked at it was curiosity about the title! The book is a collection of short stories about life on an Indian Reservation (The Rez) in Eastern Washington.

The Rez is a very sad place. Opportunity is scarce, but alcoholism is plentiful. The author grew up on such a reservation, and he claims that the events in the stories are largely true, albeit dramatized.  In particular, he claims in the introduction that "everyone in this book is a drunk or in love with a drunk." He reports that his father never did shake free of alcoholism, and that alcohol-aggravated diabetes eventually caused his father's demise (the aftermath is the subject of one of the stories). He reports that one murderer is known as such to everyone, including the police, but they apparently can't get a case that will be solid enough to allow an arrest (police questioning of his father on the subject is yet another story subject). "It's hard to be optimistic on the reservation. When a glass sits on a table here, people don't wonder if it's half-filled or half-empty. They just hope it's good beer." Sometimes the book shifts into fanciful stuff that is either a story being told by a character, or a bit of escapism inside the head of one of the characters.

There are some lovely bits of writing in the book. My favorite sentence is "Thomas was a storyteller that nobody wanted to listen to. That's like being a dentist in a town where everybody has false teeth." The book title is also a story title, and the title makes sense, even though neither Keemosabe nor Jay Silverheels makes an appearance in the book (no sign of Johnny Depp, either). Nevertheless, though I found the lengthy introduction fascinating, the stories themselves didn't appeal to me. I was a bit enlightened (and depressed), but seldom entertained. About 50% of the way through the book, I concluded this wasn't going to change, but for some reason was very determined to finish the book, and I did. I'm not generally a "literary" kind of guy, though I do like Steinbeck and D. H. Lawrence sometimes. But I couldn't get engaged in this. Lest you think I'm denouncing the book, I must remind you that this isn't my sort of read, and the fact that I stuck with it at all is a tribute to the author's writing.

Three stars out of five is my rating. For me personally, I probably rated it lower, but since I was stepping out of bounds to a place I didn't really belong here, I'm being generous. I really do think that if you like literary stuff that is depressing but interesting, you might really like the book.

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Offline JKRiya

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Re: What is your favorite book in Magical Realism?
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2016, 03:30:34 AM »
Thank you all, for your answers. I'll check out these books :)

J.K. Riya | blog

Offline alawston

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Re: What is your favorite book in Magical Realism?
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2016, 06:15:11 AM »
I think with magical realism you have to go back to the masters. Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus. One Hundred Years of Solitude. Salman Rushdie - Midnight's Children is the most lauded, but I have to admit I've not read it and so would tend to recommend Shame. The early novels of Paul Magrs - Could It Be Magic?, etc.

Have fun!


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Offline JKRiya

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Re: What is your favorite book in Magical Realism?
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2016, 05:58:11 AM »
I think with magical realism you have to go back to the masters. Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus. One Hundred Years of Solitude. Salman Rushdie - Midnight's Children is the most lauded, but I have to admit I've not read it and so would tend to recommend Shame. The early novels of Paul Magrs - Could It Be Magic?, etc.

Have fun!

Thank you so much for the wonderful suggestions!

J.K. Riya | blog

Offline Carrie Rubin

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Re: What is your favorite book in Magical Realism?
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2016, 12:12:01 PM »
I really enjoyed . A woman can 'taste' a person's emotions through the food they make, both a gift and a curse. Plus, it's one of the best titles I've ever come across.

Offline T.C.Seiko

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Re: What is your favorite book in Magical Realism?
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2016, 08:24:27 PM »
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

Offline JKRiya

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Re: What is your favorite book in Magical Realism?
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2016, 03:33:22 AM »
I really enjoyed . A woman can 'taste' a person's emotions through the food they make, both a gift and a curse. Plus, it's one of the best titles I've ever come across.

Sounds very interesting! I'd love to read this soon. Thanks for the suggestion.

J.K. Riya | blog

Offline JKRiya

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Re: What is your favorite book in Magical Realism?
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2016, 03:36:29 AM »
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

Fantastic suggestion! Thank you.

J.K. Riya | blog