“I don't take much notice of critics, except when they praise me extravagantly.”
Philip Pullman

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Epiphanies About Magic Realism
Thu 2009-09-03 13:38:59 (in context)
  • 566 words (if poetry, lines) long

Another revision on "Sidewalks" today. My office away from home was The Barking Dog Cafe in Lyons, because I started the day in Longmont and it seemed convenient to go west.

I should report that Highway 66 is all over construction. Ick.

Anyway... magic realism. Epiphanies. The one about the other. Let's see... It's not an easy genre to talk about. I'm not sure I can claim to write it, not being a Latin American author writing in the '60s. I'm not sure I can safely navigate the difference between "the magical" and "the fantastic". I'm not sure I can adequately rebut the accusation that it's just a fancy code phrase meaning "My fantasy writing is literary."

I'm going to keep using the phrase anyway. It seems the best way to label that which I aspire to write.

If you asked me a year ago to define the term, what it means to me, I'd have said, "Fantasy in which the fantastic element is presented as unremarkable, beside the point, or otherwise just a matter-of-fact part of daily life." Today I think that, as far as descriptions go, that works, but as a prescriptive it's not really enough. So here's what I'd say today--heck, here is what I am saying today.:

Magic realism is fantasy in which the fantastic element is not plot, but setting. When it really succeeds, the fantastic element serves to highlight the magical in the mundane. And the particular fantastic element should be of unique necessity to the story.

I'm not sure I've succeeded yet with "Sidewalks," but with each revision, the story has become more about the characters than the unexplained event; and the event has, I hope, stopped being just an SF/F stand-in for an earthquake or a 9/11. I'm starting to see parallels between the precise effects of that event and the dynamics of the main characters' relationship.

I mean, I think so, anyway. I could be wrong. And maybe I'm just overthinking things? Goodness knows the last thing a story needs is its author doing lit-crit analysis on it in public before it's even published. So... that's probably more than enough from me on this topic at this time. OKTHXBAI

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