Magically Real

January 10th, 2008 • Kate

My very significant Significant Other Rexroth Implausible earlier sent me a definition of Magical Realism that reads, in part:

Magical realism differs from pure fantasy primarily because it is set in a normal, modern world with authentic descriptions of humans and society and involves the amalgamation of the real and the fantastic.

I’ve long been a fan of fantasy, since back before I had my first pair of heels, and read The Hero and The Crown, the Dragonlance Chronicles, and The Hobbit, among others. Lately though, my preference for fantasy is more urban than high. As the definition above makes clear, this kind of fantasy blends reality with some sense of the mystical, the magical. It’s common in some great fiction, but also in films. The one that comes to mind is The Prestige, magical not just because of Hugh Jackman’s presence in it (yummy!), but also for the denouement. I don’t want to give anything away if any of you haven’t seen the movie yet, but obliquely, what I love about the explanation of the film, of the magic… is that it’s magic.
I love finding that feeling in a manuscript, and that love is one of the reasons I’m so excited that Alyson Noel’s new book is a paranormal. With the same ease she’s shown in mixing Art Geeks with Prom Queens, she mixes the real and the fantastic. I look forward to telling you more about it soon!
What are some of your favorite magical realism books or movies?

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8 Responses to “Magically Real”

  1. Karen Says:

    I *love* Jonathan Carroll's books. He's been publishing what's often referred to by reviewers as magic realism for almost 30 years – and he's still going strong. I recommend ALL of his books, although one of my favourites is SLEEPING IN FLAME.

  2. Anon #1 Says:

    I loved Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. Everything that happened was so believable, yet magical.

  3. Alyson Says:

    Aw, thanks Daphne!
    I LOVED The Prestige, just bought TITHE (based on your recommendation!), and hope I can continue to enjoy PUSHING DAISIES as soon as this writer's strike ends!
    I know there's more, but that's the best I can do on this first cup of coffee!

  4. DwightWannabe Says:

    Well, Pan's Labyrinth was darn good, if a bit disturbing.
    I hadn't thought about
    Pan in terms of Magical Realism before because my brain is sort of stalled in the Gabriel Garcia Marquez sense of the definition.
    BTW, Ms. Daphne, what's with your lack of RSS feed on this blog? I thought they were built into the software these days. I'd love to follow your blog on a more devoted basis. Could you ask your Webmonkey to add an RSS feed tag so I could subscribe? It wouldn't take him/her ten minutes to set that up.
    Please?
    That way I can get your blog to come to me like a newspaper every time you add or update.

  5. Kate Says:

    DwightWannabe – There's an option for subscribing to the blog on the very top of the Ask Daphne! page, as well as on the pages for each individual entry. I'm a huge fan of Google Reader myself, so the Webmonkey and I made sure to include an option to read the blog in a feed.

  6. DwightWannabe Says:

    Oh! I'm a knucklehead. I see your RSS feed link now.
    My apologies.

  7. lankywriter Says:

    I loved Margaret Atwood's Robber Bride, which is sort of magical realism mixed with women's "friend" fiction. It's an amazing book. Alice Hoffman is also a big favorite of mine. I loved Practical Magic, the book AND the movie, though the two are so different they're not really the same story at all.
    Urban fantasy is my favorite genre, both to read and to write. The boundaries here are endless! And I take full advantage with untried ideas that are a blast to write. Vicki Petterson's Zodiac series set in Las Vegas is to die for, very original and exciting. I also enjoy Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan series set in an alternate universe that almost mirrors ours, except that supernatural baddies are part of the norm. Great fun. 8^)

  8. Fie Eoin Says:

    I agree with DwightWannabe that Pan's Labyrinth was a great Magical Realism movie.
    My favorite MR books are The Light Bearer and Lady of the Light by Donna Gillespie. Her books aren't fantasy at all, but because they are set in a time and place where magic was real to people they have a lot of mystical elements. I highly recommend both, especially if you like just a touch of mysticism in your reading.
    Also:
    "magical not just because of Hugh Jackman's presence in it (yummy!)"
    You just became my favorite agent! Christian Bale was pretty yummy too.