Margin: Exploring Modern Magical 

Realism

F I C T I O N   2 0 0 5 - 2 0 0 6
Stories of Magical Realism
s t o r i e s   ~   e x c e r p t s   ~   f l a s h e s

INTRODUCTION
f r o m   t h e   e d i t o r

FICTION ARCHIVES 2004
FICTION ARCHIVES 2002-2003
FICTION ARCHIVES 2001
FICTION ARCHIVES 2000

Smokes June 2006 special edition, VOYAGE TO THE VILLAGE
SMOKES
a.j.   l e f l a h e c   ~   c h a m b é r y,   f r a n c e
"Hardly a visit of the girls went by without some new object or picture being added to the shrine."
     A.J. LEFLAHEC WRITES: "My very brief definition of magic realism is the intentional subversion of the natural order of things with a clear conscience and a straight face."

The Great Street June 2006 special edition, VOYAGE TO THE VILLAGE
THE GREAT STREET
a n n a   m a r i a   o r t e s e   ~   m i l a n,   i t a l y
(translated by Henry Martin)
"Something much larger than myself, something of which I had no possible realization, carried me there every day, as automatically as winds carry clouds, or as waves trail spray, or as night roams abroad with sleep and dreams."

The Story June 2006 special edition, VOYAGE TO THE VILLAGE
THE STORY
r a j e e v   b a l a s u b r a m a n y a m   ~   l a n c a s h i r e,   e n g l a n d
"For months he'd been suffering deep anxiety over his wife's condition, and it was with tears in his eyes that he watched her chanting in that alien voice."
     RAJEEV BALASUBRAMANYAM WRITES: "Magical realism is a political term referring to anything that supports the creed: 'everything is subjective.' Hence, it encourages us to believe our own eyes and to listen to our own hearts rather than succumbing to another's will. It teaches us that when the powerful issue dictates regarding how we must live our lives or how we must think, they are doing it because they are powerful, and not because they have a right to."

excerpt from The Invention of Paraidse June 2006 special edition, VOYAGE TO THE VILLAGE
excerpt fromTHE INVENTION OF PARADISE
c a t h a r i n e   l e g g e t t   ~   l o n d o n,   o n t a r i o,   c a n a d a
"Greer turned to look at the house, the large picture window once again covered in vines."

Dialogue With Vultures June 2006 special edition, VOYAGE TO THE VILLAGE
DIALOGUE WITH VULTURES
e d u a r d o   g a r c í a   a g u i l a r   ~   p a r i s,   f r a n c e
(translated by Jay Miskowiec)
"In a flash the red light changes to neon and at the tables I see only vultures, buzzards who drink from the cups of the clients."
     EDUARDO GARCÍA AGUILAR WRITES: "Magic realism is based upon two complimentary principles: the most mundane things in the world are extraordinary, and the most extraordinary things are perfectly normal. It should never be confused in any way, shape or form with surrealism, which is based upon discovering the extravagant worlds of the subconscious (so European, so Freudian/deconstructionist). Magic realism depicts this world, the one that actually surrounds us (so American—i.e. of the Americas—so existential). … We who come from the great cauldron of Latin America have seen in every day of our history things of such marvel, and of such horror, that any writer need only open his or her eyes to see the magic of reality."

The Architectural Genius May 2006 special edition, DOMESTICITIES
THE ARCHITECTURAL GENIUS
b a r b a r a   j a c k s h a   ~   s a n t a   f e,   n e w   m e x i c o
"He claimed we should embrace our essence, build gentle, rounded structures that reflect us from our pumpkin heads and slat-barrel chests to the curved nubs of our toes."
     BARBARA JACKSHA WRITES: "I believe magical realism takes us on a journey through the world of possibilities, the world we might experience if we weren't blinded by our preconceptions of 'what is' or 'what could be.' "

The Virtues of Cleanliness May 2006 special edition, DOMESTICITIES
THE VIRTUES OF CLEANLINESS
a. d.   c o n r a d   ~   n e w   e n g l a n d
"Before him, the image shrank with each inhalation and expanded with each exhalation."

Railroad Bill: A Tale May 2006 special edition, DOMESTICITIES
RAILROAD BILL: A TALE
j o d e e   s t a n l e y   ~   u r b a n a,   n e w   i l l i n o i s
"The sheriff called and called, the hounds sitting patiently at his heels, but the big black dog had disappeared as if the swamp had swallowed him up."

Big Brown Bag May 2006 special edition, DOMESTICITIES
BIG BROWN BAG
m a r k   d ' a n n a   ~   p l a y a   d e l   r a y,   c a l i f o r n i a
"Faint, weird noises came from behind her. They were hollow, guttural noises. Then another sound, this one like a dead fish being dropped on the sidewalk. Leila turned around and there stood Eck with his mouth wide open and his eyes as big as she'd even seen them."

Now Showing May 2006 special edition, DOMESTICITIES
NOW SHOWING
s o n d r a   k e l l y - g r e e n   ~   o c e a n s i d e,   o r e g o n
"It turns out, by the way, we’d all gone back to the window like a million times, but it was just a piece of glass with nothing more to show than a parking lot."

My Father's Minotaur May 2006 special edition, DOMESTICITIES
MY FATHER'S MINOTAUR
s t e p h e n   b e n z   ~   p i n e   l a k e,   g e o r g i a
"Disheveled widower, he sat in his den—all decoration stripped from the walls—ignoring me to study his blueprints."
     STEPHEN BENZ WRITES: "Literary magical realism explores a liminal zone—a sensory threshold where perception is attuned to what is ordinarily imperceptible. From the vantage of this threshold, we can simultaneously apprehend both what is consistently recognized as real as well as that which in normal circumstances is thought to be unreal, illusory, dreamlike: the realm of the fantastic. In terms of philosophy, magical realism takes a dualistic understanding of the world and resolves it into a monism whereby the realistic and the fantastic merge into a unified whole. The apparent separateness of mind and matter meld in the liminal zone of magical realism."

Chicken Scratch May 2006 special edition, DOMESTICITIES
CHICKEN SCRATCH
l o i s   s c h l e g e l   ~   s o u t h e r n   o r e g o n
"Suddenly, everything slows way down, like it always does when something I’ve seen in the scratchings starts to happen."
     LOIS SCHLEGEL WRITES: "Magical realism gives shape and meaning to the unknown. It is a palette of color that offers writers a way to paint mystery, metaphysics and the occult into a story. It loosens the boundaries so we can move off the canvas a bit. We can dribble and flick paint and then marvel at the beautiful effect…What is created outside the linear and ordinary is many times much more interesting and provocative. This form, magical realism, gives us the opportunity to experience, if not understand, this realm, giving greater meaning to both a story and to life."

Way to a Man's Heart May 2006 special edition, DOMESTICITIES
WAY TO A MAN'S HEART
b a r b a r a   j a c k s h a   ~   s a n t a   f e,   n e w   m e x i c o
"SHE HELPS you lay back on the restaurant table. She says it's no big deal—this is your third date, after all."

In Ophelia's Garden March 2006 special edition, EARTH~WORDS
IN OPHELIA'S GARDEN
s t e p h a n i e   p a r e n t   ~   b a l t i m o r e ,   m a r y l a n d
"Once an old woman taught me how to grow a garden."
     STEPHANIE PARENT WRITES: "I think the best way to understand magical realism is by comparing it to fantasy literature. Both fantasy and magical realism are marked by fantastical, impossible events within the text; however, while magical realism always takes place within the concrete, recognizable world readers inhabit, fantasy often takes place in an imaginary world, or, as in 'alternate history,' in a past that never actually occurred. Even more importantly, in fantasy, the impossible elements are a crucial element of the plot; take away the fantasy, and you'd have a substantially different story. In magical realism, fantasy elements function more as an extended metaphor, a way of explaining events and emotions that occur in the real world. If you took away the imaginary elements from magical realism, you'd still have the same basic story; you'd just have a different tone, different metaphors and images, and a different way of arriving at meaning."

The Sad Oranges of Poland March 2006 special edition, EARTH~WORDS
THE SAD ORANGES OF POLAND
t o n y   d o w l e r   ~   s e a t t l e ,   w a s h i n g t o n
"The wrappers show places quaintly bulging with regional charm, but in fact the food is anonymous. The people who make the packages don't know where the oranges came from. The family farm is a factory producing, among other things, pictures of a family farm."
     TONY DOWLER WRITES: "Magical Realism, like its cousins, satire, fantasy and science fiction, consists in pushing a lever under a single idea and seeing how far you can move it. Unlike its cousins, however, Magical Realism deals not in what can be explained, but in what needs no explanation. In this it is the most elegant member of the family."

Mourning Rain March 2006 special edition, EARTH~WORDS
MOURNING RAIN
l a u r a   t a y l o r   l a m b r o s   ~   l o s   a n g e l e s,   c a l i f o r n i a
"It was ten days before an airplane pilot noticed the isolated gathering of clouds over the house and notified someone."
     LAURA TAYLOR LAMBROS WRITES: "I define literary magical realism as the point where daily life intersects with the surreal to enlighten and extend a metaphor in a way simple realism cannot. When the real and surreal intersect, all of the standard notions about a story are called into question, and the reader is forced to keep an open mind. I'm particularly intrigued by the combination of magical elements in a banal, media-soaked modern environment."

Contança's War With The Elements March 2006 special edition, EARTH~WORDS
CONSTANÇA'S WAR WITH THE ELEMENTS
d.   k a s t i n o v i c h   ~   s o u t h e r n   o r e g o n
"It was soon discovered that the tremor had opened a vent in the ground out in the fields."

The Boy Who Breathed Water February 2006 special edition, ISN'T IT ROMANTIC?
THE BOY WHO BREATHED WATER
a l i c i t a   r o d r i g u e z   ~   p i t k i n ,   c o l o r a d o
"Rogelio was careful not to splash the water, so as to avoid the temptation of drinking it up."
     ALICITA RODRIGUEZ WRITES: "If one combines a fanciful and miraculous event with a restrained and perspicacious narrator, then one may as a result encounter the mysterious Magical Realism. Be careful not to meet with some of its more troublesome neighbors: Surrealism being too European and smoking too many cigarettes; Fantastic being too fleeting and arriving always late; Uncanny being too Freudian and seeking obscure explanations for it all. Sometimes a dancing bear can simply enjoy reading Tolstoy."

Her Feelings for Him February 2006 special edition, ISN'T IT ROMANTIC?
HER FEELINGS FOR HIM
e l l e n   b e h r e n s   ~   d e w i t t ,   m i c h i g a n
" 'I have so much feeling for you,' she told him, 'I don't know where to put it all.' "
     ELLEN BEHRENS WRITES: "I can only say that [magical realism] makes the intangible tangible, the imagined real, the unfathomed believable."

Excerpt: Zombi, You My Love February 2006 special edition, ISN'T IT ROMANTIC?
ZOMBI, YOU MY LOVE
w i l l i a m   o r e m   ~   w a l t h a m ,   m a s s a c h u s e t t s
"They lit all their cigars from the burning hand and then they sat back and watched the zombi's face as his thumb slowly dripped and blackened."

The Question Remained February 2006 special edition, ISN'T IT ROMANTIC?
THE QUESTION REMAINED
e r i k   s h e l d o n   ~   c o n c o r d ,   c a l i f o r n i a
"The question lay for a while in a bowl of polished stones on his work desk."
     ERIK SHELDON WRITES: "[Magical Realism is] a slippery concept to define. I first encountered the term on the dust jacket of my well-loved collection of Borges stories. After reading García Márquez, Haruki Murakami and the fantasies of Bernard Malamud, the common element remaining in the admittedly large-holed sieve of my mind is that all of these writers [and my own story] treat internal states as physical objects, able to act on the protagonists in a very direct way."

Taking Shelter December 2005 special edition, SEASON OF SPIRIT
TAKING SHELTER
r i c h a r d   j a y   g o l d s t e i n   ~   s a n t a   f e ,   n e w   m e x i c o
"All my life, he thinks, in every crisis, what do I get? Some meshugeh story."

Christmas Tree Story December 2005
CHRISTMAS TREE STORY
s t e p h e n   g i b s o n   ~   o r e m,   u t a h
"When I was twelve, my middle brother, Ken, back from his second year at college, said, 'Look, isn't it about time to toss out that old Christmas tree? It's a nuisance, bound to attract bugs and stuff.' "
     STEPHEN GIBSON WRITES: "My definition of magical realism has been influenced by David Young and Keith Hollaman's Magical Realist Fiction and Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris' Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. These books suggest, among other things, that magical realism uses the conventions of literary realism to challenge modern positivistic thought, that it brings worlds together (without, necessarily a collision), and that some element of it will remain unexplainable. Building on this definition, magical realism's conventions, for me, encourage openness that other genres lack."

Burning Mary December 2005
BURNING MARY
s o n d r a   k e l l y - g r e e n   ~   o c e a n s i d e,   o r e g o n
"At first I thought he was crazy because I couldn’t see a darn thing on that barn from any angle."

 

THE 2005 SHORT STORY CONTEST PRIZE STORY
BIAFRA Autumn 2005
BIAFRA
n n e d i m m a   o k o r a f o r   ~   o l y m p i a   f i e l d s,   i l l i n o i s
"This girl had probably been hearing the calls from her friends in the spirit world all her life."

A Shadow in Poughkeepsie Autumn 2005
A SHADOW IN POUGHKEEPSIE
r e g g i e   p o c h é   ~   s t.   l o u i s,   m i s s o u r i
"He settled back down in his chair and looked up at me. 'Odd,' he said in a calmer voice. 'Something’s off. I remember it ending two different ways.' "

The Return Autumn 2005
THE RETURN
j a n e   z i m m e r m a n n   ~   s o u t h   d a r t m o u t h,   m a s s a c h u s e t t s
"She was not entirely sure whether his return was to be permanent, or if he might be gone again as fast as he had appeared, and she wondered, if he did blink off again, whether they would have to dig another grave for him or if his old one would simply reappear."
     JANE ZIMMERMANN WRITES: "When the mind takes flight in reading, it is a good read of fiction. When the heart sprouts wings and follows, it is a great read. When the secret smile in the soul of 'I believe' is irrepressible, this is magical realism."

The Bicycle Fable Autumn 2005
THE BICYCLE FABLE
a n n a   h a r r i n g t o n   ~   o a k f i e l d,   t e n n e s s e e
" They held hands, stared into each other's eyes, listened to the rain falling across the village, and spoke to each other in their shared language of silence."
     ANNA HARRINGTON WRITES: "I believe that in magic realism, the fantastical becomes the mundane without overpowering the plot or characters, and surrealism never becomes the focus but simply an enhancement—it is a way of drawing attention to the ordinary by the juxtaposition of the extraordinary, thus reinforcing realism on a basic level."

Master of the Sea Autumn 2005
an excerpt from MASTER OF THE SEA
j o s é   s a r n e y   ~   b r a z i l
g r e g o r y   r a b a s s a   ~   t r a n s l a t o r

"When it got quite close a hole opened up in the sea and a flock of black gulls appeared, flying in a circle and coming down from the sky to plunge in with a dance of wings, while the white boat disappeared, sinking into the eternal depths."

Wonderful Spares Autumn 2005
WONDERFUL SPARES
g. l.   g r e y   ~   s p o k a n e,   w a s h i n g t o n
"She sits on the couch, exhausted, and calls out to her uterus, waiting for some response, hoping it will seek her out, instead."
     G.L. GREY WRITES: "My definition of magical realism: Storytelling that concerns itself with truth and beauty instead of the laws of gravity."

Black-Winged Angels Autumn 2005
BLACK-WINGED ANGELS
m o n i c a   k i l i a n   ~   c o l o r a d o   s p r i n g s,   c o l o r a d o
"A real artist's brush. My fingers curled around it, and as they did, a thrill of well-being flooded through me, unaccustomed yet familiar, as if it had always been part of me."
     MONICA KILIAN WRITES: "My definition of literary magical realism: an expression of a personal world infused with something that is deeply felt as real, but has no apparent connection with the logic of the everyday."

Andrew Chow's Bakery Autumn 2005
ANDREW CHOW'S BAKERY
j o h n   r y a n   ~   w e b s t e r   f i e l d s,   i l l i n o i s
"Word of this apparition shot up the elevator shafts and reached all floors in a matter of seven minutes."
     JOHN RYAN WRITES: "Magical Realism is at the crossroads of the real and the imagined, invoking imagination almost unconsciously, as dreams do, with real effects that permeate our consciousness—also like dreams. Magical Realism is distinguishable from fantasy because it relies on the real world of experience and mundaneity as its basis but offers a spectrum of infiltrations from a magical world; it is distinguishable from science fiction because it does not rely on gadgetry, future worlds, or space/time travel to identify itself. At its finest, magical realism involves tiny perturbations in an otherwise 'normal' setting that produce increasingly 'abnormal' (magical) effects."

Embrace Autumn 2005
EMBRACE
j a n e t   a.   w e l l s   ~   b e r k e l e y,   c a l i f o r n i a
"Then I am back in my body, the taste of metal and soil and sun in my mouth, the rock inches away from my eyes."
     JANET A. WELLS WRITES: "At its core, magical realism in an art of surprises. Rather than wrapping my stories in the genre, I use it as a tool, to transform something common or everyday into something mysterious. The effect can be subtle, it can be earth shattering. Yet, for me, there is always a logical underpinning, because magical occurrences are part of everyday life."

Fruitbooks Autumn 2005
FRUITBOOKS
e l l e n   l i n d q u i s t   ~   a t l a n t a,   g e o r g i a
"The books turned into bananas and figs as he weighed them…."
     ELLEN LINDQUIST WRITES: "The German art critic Franz Roh who coined the term Magical Realism is quoted as saying it is a form in which 'our real world re-emerges before our eyes, bathed in the clarity of a new day.' But…to me, the purpose of Magical Realism…isn't to expand or illuminate the real world. Rather the real world exists to supply sign posts that we need to negotiate imaginary worlds. The imaginary world has precedence but never explains itself."

Farmer's Market Autumn 2005
FARMER'S MARKET
j o n   p i c c i u o l o   ~   l o m p o c,   c a l i f o r n i a
"Beth's half-forgotten childhood myths wormed their way out: mindless passions of the Mediterranean, cunning guiles of the East."
     JON PICCIUOLO WRITES: "In my opinion, magical realism is what happens when there is an interface between our world and that part of the universe which remains blessedly unexplained."

SPECIAL FEATURE
animated graphic of fiction Summer 2005
A DON QUIXOTE TRIBUTE
Poetry, Fiction and more

Summer 2005
THREE FLASH FICTIONS
(in Spanish and English)

r a f a e l   p é r e z   e s t r a d a   ~   s p a i n
s t e v e n   j.   s t e w a r t   ~   t r a n s l a t o r

"The violets sprounted up capriciously, in bunches."

Double Feature Summer 2005
DOUBLE FEATURE
p a u l o   d a   c o s t a   ~   p o r t u g a l   a n d   c a n a d a
"That summer, Florindo Ramos dug his own burial pit and slept in his grave, becoming acquainted with his flesh's final abode, searching out the most comfortable position for his eternal rest."

The Foreigner Summer 2005
THE FOREIGNER
t i m   w e e d   ~   p u t n e y,   v e r m o n t
"The music was strange and primal, complex percussion rhythms under high trilling Arabic wails."
     TIM WEED WRITES: "In my own work supernatural occurrences serve as freeing metaphors, slivers of an incipient personal mythology that I hope will allow me to expand the literary conversation beyond the limiting strictures of realism. Today's Anglophone literary orthodoxy is concentrated around the narrow range of observable, empirical human experience. Such literature is important in that by illustrating the pain of a quotidian existence it reassures us that we're not alone. But it excludes much that is legitimate and fascinating about humanity, including the life of the spirit, numinous objects, occult phenomena such as ghosts, and the afterlife."

The Tall Woman Summer 2005
Classic Magical Realism
"THE TALL WOMAN"

p e d r o   d e   a n t o n i o   a l a r c ó n   ~   s p a i n   1 8 8 8
"The tall woman had followed me with soundless footsteps, she was towering over me, almost touching me with her fan, her head bent so that it nearly touched my shoulder."

Marrying the Veil Winter 2005
MARRYING THE VEIL
k a t h l e e n   d e g r a v e   ~   p i t t s b u r g,   k a n s a s
"Her father recoiled when she looked at him in horror as he lifted the veil and smoothed it back behind her tiara."
     KATHLEEN DEGRAVE WRITES: "Magical realism re-enacts the truth at the center of a particular world, usually a folk culture. If a story finds the spiritual current that guides its characters, if it recreates that current through symbols and dreams, then it is magical realism. The focus is the culture, not individuals, and the magic is inherent to that culture alone, comes out of the mysteries of its religious faith, its ancient beliefs. The reality likewise is specific to a people living day to day amid their unique customs and physical environment. In magical realism, the magic is integral to the reality."

Eva on Earth Winter 2005
EVA ON EARTH
s h e l l e y   g i l l e s p i e   ~   s e a t t l e,   w a s h i n g t o n
"Adan met the last woman on earth in a cafetal in Costa Rica."
     SHELLEY GILLESPIE WRITES: "Magical Realism is the literary form that invites readers to suspend solid, locked-down definitions of 'reality' and to enter a world where a boundary-less imagination weaves its story. Magical Realism, for me, as an author, is the medium that speaks the language of the subconscious, where symbols, mythology, and folk tales hold their greatest influence. It is the literary form that allows the magic of the everyday to unfurl and be focused beyond pragmatic or realist notions of story. Ultimately, Magical Realism allows both writers and readers to suspend our pre-conditioned expectations to discover a realm where poetry and story spawn creative discovery."

Trees Winter 2005
TREES
j o h n   b r a n s c u m   ~   l o u i s v i l l e,   k e n t u c k y
"Yet, even those of us who had simply watched had marks that would not wash away."

Dreamer for Hire Winter 2005
DREAMER FOR HIRE
e r i n   f r i s t a d   ~   p o r t   t o w n s e n d,   w a s h i n g t o n
"She brushes the cobwebs from the handle and releases the latch."

Hospitality Winter 2005
HOSPITALITY
m a r g a r i t a   e n g l e   ~   c l o v i s,   c a l i f o r n i a
"Was it the garlic scent of the vine, they ask each other later, or the taste of those ripe mangos?"
     MARGARITA ENGLE WRITES: "Long before I heard the name, I already knew magical realism as a way of seeing the world. It is a natural way of perceiving, a blend of childlike wonder, the reverent contemplation of mystics, and the objectivity of journalists. In other words, it is the simple acceptance of reality in all its complexity, acknowledging that certain marvels can never be fully understood, even when they are accurately depicted, and thoroughly enjoyed."

Nemesis Winter 2005
NEMESIS
g a r r e t t   r o w l a n   ~   l o s   a n g e l e s,   ~   c a l i f o r n i a
"Pretending to look for a job under false pretenses, wasn’t that a violation of the Patriot Act?"
     GARRETT ROWLAN WRITES: "I think there's enough latent surrealism in the world that the writer of magic realism doesn't have to strain to invent a new universe, only slightly change the focus through which he or she views this one."

Don Ysidro Winter 2005
DON YSIDRO
b r u c e   h o l l a n d   r o g e r s   ~   e u g e n e,   o r e g o n
"He put my face over his face, and I opened our eyes."

The Boy Who Stayed Outside Winter 2005
THE BOY WHO STAYED OUTSIDE
k a t h r y n   k u l p a   ~   b r i s t o l,   r h o d e   i s l a n d
"She would have found a place for him, a word for him in her strange language where everything was a poem."

Viewfinder Winter 2005
VIEWFINDER
g a r r e t t   r o w l a n   ~   l o s   a n g e l e s,   c a l i f o r n i a
"It was a 1976 sky, full of possibility and pain and stupidity and optimism."

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