Monday, October 15, 2007

Magical Realism

I'm finally reading The Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It was recommended to me from 'a reliable' years ago. I suspect I'll be doing my best to pass it on. The author's style is labeled 'magical realism' because fantastic things happen and are treated as ordinary. Such as the central character's impossibly long lifespan (he is the dictator of an unnamed Caribbean nation and his long life is a neat metaphor for tyrants on many levels; he is omnipresent, his power comes from his legend, no one can remember the nation without him, he will not die or fade away into history, and I'm sure there are many other parallels for students to write essays on). I'm surprised all of his work isn't being made into films.

I'm not a Garcia Marquez fan but I've always liked his nonfiction book, News of a Kidnapping, and found that it gave me some insight into how the real Colombia could inspire such surreal writing.

Reading his book often makes me think of my own life as an inescapable (albeit fun) cycle of recurring situations (since he loves to deal in stories that cross generations but carry the same themes). I would consider the Garcia Marquezesque themes of my life to be (I can think of at least three important examples for each):

-I fall in love with two people at once
-My family bails me out
-Having a lot of creative control in my work and allowing others to make my choices in my real life
-Being a surprisingly good judge of character
-Learning through teaching

What are the themes in your life?

Garcia Marquez also made a wonderful remark that inspired me as a writer. At seventeen he read Kafka's Metamorphisis (about an ordinary man who wakes up to find he's a giant cockroach). That book helped 'unlock' Garcia Marquez's imagination because it reminded him that fiction can be anything.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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