Friday, April 05, 2013

Magical Realsim

Yesterday's sniffles seem to have been the harbinger of a cold, which ruined my plans for the day. I'm reminded of back when I was in school (or when I had a regular office job). There were days when I had no pressing reason to be at school or work and it was a perfect day for staying home and reading, and I could turn a few minor symptoms into a serious illness. But then there were the days when I was sick on a day when there was something going on at school or work that I wanted to be there for, and I'd keep telling myself that I was getting better, and maybe I could pull myself together and make it. I was supposed to go hiking/geocaching today, and it's the perfect weather for it (which is also the wrong weather for a reading day), so if I go five minutes without a sniffle or sneeze, I find myself thinking that maybe I could go, after all. And then I'll sneeze or cough. It really would be wise for me to take it easy today so I can maybe get over this quicker. I also think there should be a limit as to the number of colds any one person can get each year.  I've had more than my fair share, and I wouldn't want to be greedy.

But I did get a lot of reading done yesterday, since always needing a hand free for tissues made knitting challenging. I've decided that the kind of fantasy women's fiction that's more magical realism can be rather frustrating. I enjoy it while I'm reading, but then I start thinking about it and I get annoyed by all the "was it really magic?" loose ends. As a fantasy reader, when I see something supernatural in a book, I take it at face value rather than thinking of it as metaphor or symbolism or some psychological thing (I nearly threw Life of Pi across the room when I got to the end and got the "explanation."). If there's magic, I want it to make sense as magic. I want to know how it works, where it comes from, what the rules and limits are. The vague "it's odd, but we don't really think too much about it or question it, and it may just be symbolic" magical realism thing leaves me unsatisfied. Plus, a lot of the time, if it isn't magic, if that's just in the minds of the characters, then there tend to be a lot of staggering coincidences. They work if there's magic, because something is making it happen, but if there isn't magic, it's very contrived.

Does anyone know where A Discovery of Witches is shelved in bookstores? I've started reading it, and it reads like flat-out fantasy (with a strong helping of paranormal romance), with magic, witches, vampires, etc., and the writing being more genre style than literary. My library put a "fantasy" sticker on it (it has "witch" in the title), but all the author blurbs on the cover are from literary authors. It's showing up on the fantasy and horror Amazon bestseller lists, but I recall it getting mainstream/literary treatment when it was released. It shows up in the "people who bought this also bought" lists for both the books I know were published as fantasy and the books I know were published as mainstream women's fiction.

Now I'm going to go pretend it's gray and rainy and spend the day on the sofa with a book, some tea and the tissue box.

1 comment:

Kristy McCoy said...

I must say that I agree with wanting magic in a book to just be magic. Not everything has to have symbolic depth. Truly enjoy that about the Enchanted Inc. series. They just make you smile and feel good.