Magical Unrealistic Tour

by | Oct 11, 2006 | Creating Characters, Plot Development

The weather continues dismal here; not like Colorado at all.  It’s actually the 10th as I write this, but it’s a day of waiting so I thought I’d try to get ahead.  Waiting for the corrected book proof to arrive, waiting for DSL service to get switched on, waiting for whatever is keeping me from logging on via dial-up to resolve itself.  My dial-up service conked out sometime in the wee hours of the morning, and is still down some twelve hours later.


If, as I suggested in yesterday’s posting, we read fiction because it tells us something about reality, then I cannot understand the popularity of Magical Realism, that odd breed of prose indigenous to South America.  I am told that it reflects native forms of story-telling, but that does nothing to ease my perplexity.

In Magical Realism (henceforth ‘MR’), characters cannot be expected to act like human beings, the world of the story does not act like the world we know, and thus the reader is unable to form any reasonable expectations.  Expectations are the key to classical forms of literature, and may very well be the subject of my next posting.

In MR, events occur at random and characters do whatever their creator wants them to do.  Personally, I find this sort of thing insulting both to the reader and to the characters, who get jerked around like puppets.

In 100 Years of Solitude, to take one small example, there is a character who for some reason or other (I forget the details, but seem to recall that he has gone crazy, which in the world of MR hardly seems to set him apart) is tied to a tree.  He is left there for years and years, in the sun and the rain, while the narrator goes on to tell of us something else, and something else, and something else, each event occurring for no logical reason except that that’s what the author wants to happen.  Tellingly enough, the character tied to the tree does not seem to affect the remaining course of the book.  Whereas, like the naughty little boy in the kids’ book I wrote about the other day, I want to know how he went to the bathroom.


Yesterday, while trying to write the above through myriads of interruptions, the sun came out, which was a very kind thing for it to do.  And my shiny new DSL came on line, which was very nice too except that so far it is no faster than dial-up.  An hour on the phone today with the tech resolved nothing, but now I am required to be home tomorrow between 1 and 5PM so the phone line can be checked.

One of the interruptions, however, was that the corrected book proof showed up, and it only contained one small error, which should (am I really saying this?) be simple to correct.  The printer tells me they should have the thing wrapped up about two weeks after they get the proof back from me, which will be very nice if it turns out to be true.  Stay tuned.