Not still on magic realism?
Jon Evans in 2008 talked on Tor.com about a spectrum with surreal fantasy at the far left, categorized by Marquez and Allende and systematic fantasy moving to the right categorized by books like ‘Little Big’. He went on to say that the far left uses magic to illuminate and explore their characters and their struggles in our real world.
Plenty of people before me have agreed and disagreed with these sentiments and being an ingenue both in blogging (practically a virgin) and as a writer, I have only a basic opinion. Terry Pratchett said in 2002 in an interview with Linda Richards on January Magazine.com that ‘magic realism’ is a polite way of saying you write fantasy.’ I am a fantasy writer. My characters are affected by legend-based enchantment which reveals their strengths and weaknesses. Their journey is a struggle through a world based on the sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe when for Mr.Average, life was dangerous and short. Perhaps Mr.Evans should have redefined his argument to ‘real struggle in our contemporary world.’ Either way, I offer up two paras and ask: magic realism or fantasy?
Extract from The Stumpwork Robe (isbn: 9781849233262)
Ana left Adelina not long after and hastened down to the door of the Inn to take a step outside. The glitter of snow and ice was so sharp her eyes closed to slits and she was momentarily blinded, walking carefully across the cobbles that separated her from the Celestine Stairway.
The road was empty of movement, sinister snow clouds sliding backwards and forwards over the sun, the wind taking cruel bites at anyone’s exposed skin. Most journeymen had eschewed the frosted Stairway for the warmth of taverns and inns. An ugly gust sent a flurry of snow flying up the walls and buttresses and baffled away at Ana’s unprotected ears. She shrank back to the shelter of the porch and as she gazed at the grey and white striated distance, she heard footsteps shushing toward her – the four beat of an animal pushing through the snowdrifts.
Her hair prickled on her neck, each individual follicle rising and separating, goosebumps racing up her arms as she tried to discern the whereabouts of the sound. To the left there was nothing, then to the right. Only hard shadows against the corners of buildings, impenetrable blocks of dark where neither shade nor movement could be detected. The padding came remorselessly on and she turned her head again, her feet horribly rooted through the snow to the very surface of the mountain.
A black shape detached itself from the corner and two amber eyes moved closer. A giant shaggy dog as dark as doom approached quietly, its eyes burning into Ana’s
piercing her heart. She gasped with horror as the gaze slid into her soul. A tiny corner of that life-source within her crinkled a little more, as it had done when her father died. The Black Dog, the Barguest, harbinger of the victim’s end, had marked her and she spun away, her hand scrabbling at the latch of the door, shoving it open and then slamming it behind, to lean against the portal, a shaking hand to her mouth. She winced as a shadow passed outside, rippling across the bubbled glass of the window. Violet, the tavern cat, arched a hackled back, spat and then ran hissing into the bar as if the Barguest would enter their tidy, happy world.
Extract from The Last Stitch (isbn: 9781849238182)
He led her at great speed to a mirror that would surely shatter, but launched at the glass anyway. His senses swam as he barged through, but he swiftly mesmered any pain from Adelina’s passage and opened his eyes to see soft orchard colours – almond pink, leaf-bud green, apple blossom white, apricot blush, palest yellow peach. His mouth watered at the thought of the ripe fruits and he stared at the masked faces of Others who pranced to the beats of the dance. And then he looked at Adelina, her black robe gone, her face a study of amazement as she fingered the heavenly silk of the stumpwork robe. Sink me, unhurt and magnificent! And then he looked down at the cut velvet of his own garb – the soft gold of a gooseberry. How apt!
Both books are available on Amazon.com, Amazon.com.uk, B and N online and heaps of others.
I like the category of magic realism though I agree it is still a fantasy genre. However, those who like sword and sorcery fantasy won’t always like magic realism and it goes both ways. Personally I like any kind of fantasy but I know people who only read vampires or urban fantasy or romantic fantasy and by giving us different sub-genres it makes life easier when deciding whether or not you are going to want to read a particular book.
Thanks for sharing this post.
Hi Cassandra. Being a category freak/ex-librarian and quite anal in so many ways, I do like everything ordered and labelled. But then I also say ‘a rose by any other name is still a rose’ . . . I love the way Terry Pratchett just took the convention and swept it away.