Margin: Exploring Modern Magical Realism


February 2006

I am displaced poet/writer from New Orleans by Katrina. I am presently living in Tucson, AZ. I am a veteran writer and have a website, Muscadine Lines: A Southern read if you have time. …I was evacuated eight days after the storm by U.S. Air Force chopper. The horror of the storm needs to be exposed worldwide. …I am 62 years old and corruption of the parish was death to poor Americans. I will never go back to Louisiana.—Darby Diana, writer, via email

[The editor responds: Thanks for sharing your stories. If we don't tell our own stories, who will? Which is precisely the drive behind magical realism.]

I have followed the hurricane disaster footage since the beginning, over several media formats, and I look forward to the chance to be able to assist with the First Book relief effort.—Kamau Rucker, writer, Blacksburg, VA

[The editor responds: As of February 14 we have raised enough money to allow First Book to distribute 1,000 books to evacuees and hurricane-devastated libraries. Thanks to everyone who has shown their support!]

January 2006

It is so wonderful to hear of programs such as Book Relief. Even today, five months after Katrina, there is only one library open in Harrison County and none in Hancock. Our school libraries have been decimated as well, and we have no bookstores open yet either. Despite many people's perceptions, Mississippians are a literate bunch, or at least we were before August 29. I know I have driven my postlady crazy with the constant deliveries from Amazon over the past few months! I have a carload of books waiting to be donated to the Harrison County Library as soon as they have the space to take them.—Robin Bridges, writer, Gulfport, MS

[The editor responds: I've got several shopping bags of books here as well. I think my family and I are going to locate a needy location this summer and do a neighborhood book drive; it'll be a good way to get my kids involved. Stay tuned.]

December 2005

Thanks …for keeping Margin going for five years. It's quite an achievement.—Wayne Ude, author of Buffalo and Other Stories

Feliz navidad y prospero ano nuevo for you and for Margin.—Kathleen Alcalá, author of Spirits of the Ordinary

[T]hank you for letting me have a last look (at page galleys). Why can't more journals be that considerate?—Joan Crooks, contributing poet

[The editor responds: I don't know. We've always had a policy of galley reviews for our contributors; maybe it's because we're all writers, too, and want to make sure that everything we've done to present your work would be what we would want or expect for our own work. Anyway, it's just plain common courtesy, isn't it?]

I did my senior thesis for my BA on Eastern European MR, and my interest has not diminished now that I'm in a Master's program. I even used Margin's list for some of my research.—Anonymous, from the Web

[The editor responds: That's what we're here for! Thanks for subscribing.]

Thanks, my friend. You ARE always on top of things. No one's got you beat on that. And you are so right about Latinos and MR—thanks for thinking and saying that! :-).—Naomi Ayala

[…in response to TKS's statement at the Magical Realism Newsblog that NOT ALL LATIN AMERICAN WRITERS ARE MAGICAL REALISTS! We may love the Magical Realism here, but it's always good to underscore that MR isn't just the singular writing style of Latin America.]

Many thanks, Tamara, for the chance to share thoughts with you.—Daniel Jaffe, Jewish literary scholar and editor of With Signs & Wonders: An International Anthology of Jewish Fabulist Fiction

[The editor responds: One of the pleasures of editing comes with finding enthusiastic, knowledgeable, generous people such as yourself to collaborate on projects of mutual benefit.]

It is always good news for any artist to find that his/her artwork is appreciated as, in my case, to have received your invitation for "Season of Spirit."—artist Constantine Cionca

[The editor responds: Constantine's image graces our "Season of Spirit" cover; we're extremely proud to be able to offer such wonderful visual imagery from all around the world for our readers.]

November 2005

I am an avid fan of your fantastic site, Margin, and am writing to ask you if you would be kind enough to include a link or some form of post to our new poetry and short story online journal, the Laika Poetry Review. We are aiming to deal in a broad range of poetry and short stories, but the best definition of the work we are seeking would be magical realism with a radical edge. Knowing that your site is the finest of its nature, it would be an honour to be mentioned there.—Darran Anderson, Laika Poetry Review

[The editor responds: No problem, Darran. We support the many creative, ingenious ways that magical realism—indeed, all imaginative writing—is showcased by independent publishers. High five to all small presses and publishers!]

I'm very impressed with your magazine, Tamara! I wasn't aware of its large scope. I even found a publisher to submit my horror novel to. Now all I need is some quiet time to read....—Mayra Calvani, Voices in the Dark

I am a student of Comparative Literature. I might opt to write my master's thesis about magical realism, so I hope the resources of this page might help me to narrow down my topic.—from email

[The editor responds: Do take a look around, and if there's something you haven't yet found, do let us know. Either it's somewhere you haven't thought to look, or we haven't yet covered it. And who knows, we might be taking on your mystery subject matter in an upcoming edition! Good luck with your thesis!]

In Japan, MR is not major literature nor good entertainment. But when I [read] Margin, I'm very glad to and want to know MR more.—from email

[The editor responds: We're pleased to have readers in Japan! We wish there was more discussion of Asian magical realism here in our pages, and hope to include some more work toward that end in June 2006 when we publish our international edition.]

I was thrilled to read about Margin on La Bloga.—from email

[The editor responds: La Bloga rocks! We come across some nifty discussions about magical realism there and in literary blogs, generally.]

I'm a writer who writes magical realism. I wrote a script optioned by a H'wood producer who is rewriting it. I asked why. They said they "didn't do magic." Well, pardon me, but I do. On to novels.—from Kurt Vandersluis

[The editor responds: Kurt, that's not the first time a magical realist scriptwriter got that response from a producer. Too bad for them, though; some of the greatest films in recent years have been magical realist. Take, for instance, Big Fish (from the novel adaptation). Keep up the hard work; there's definitely a place for MR on the silver screen. In fact, send your work to the Coen Bros. They get it!]

October 2005

I was so pleased to learn about the special edition to benefit hurricane victims. What a terrific idea.—Kelle Groom

My favorite genre is magic realism. I am addicted. I also am working on writing in this genre.—from email

[The editor responds: We get a lot of notes just like this from students and writers of magical realism. We're proud and honored to be serving your interests; just let us know if there's something you'd like for us to cover. Our safari is yours, as well!]

September 2005

I am currently an English major, and I tend to enjoy magical realism more than anything else I read. I would like to read more authors and perhaps pursue this genre in fiction.—Mona Ferguson

I would like to ask you for permission to translate into Lithuanian some contents of your website. …MiPOE is an attempt to introduce magical realism among Lithuanian people. I hope you will help us to make MiPOE project a place of interest for many intellectual Lithuanians. —Gediminas Dagys, MiPOE

[The editor responds: We've tried contacting Gediminas but haven't yet "hooked up." I hope MiPOE is still a go…]

August 2005

I'm a writer currently living in Kazakhstan (hence my email address) and a big fan of magical realist writing. I'm glad I found your site!—from kazakjeff

[The editor responds: I bet there's a lot of great local MR talent out your way, Jeff!]

I have had an interest in magical realism since my American Lit professor had us read One Hundred Years of Solitude. I just discovered your online journal—it's wonderful!—from Sue Saunders

Nice edition. The pieces by Cathie Sandstrom and Andrea Jackson are quite fun.—John Davis, regarding Periphery III: Reasonable Facsimiles

July 2005

I am a long-time fan of magical realism and recent aspiring writer. I enjoy the fiction published in Margin and would appreciate regular updates on new content.—Benedict Maulbeck

[The editor responds: That's what subscriptions are all about. They're free, automated and private. I simply send you updates as they arise. This way you won't miss out on anything! Margin's grown into a pretty dense resource; keeping abreast with regular updates has become a cherished service for many of our longstanding subscribers.]

This journal makes a valuable contribution to our rich store of fine literary fiction and poetry, in particular!—Linda Wendling, Hourglass Books

I want to thank you again for publishing "The Missing Scroll" and for having the finished product look so dazzling. It's a testament to your remarkable journal and efforts that an opportunity like this has developed for me, and thank you again.—Christopher Kritwise Doyle

[The editor responds: We aim to please! Christopher, we'd be nothing without your terrific work.]

June 2005

I just discovered there exists this genre that includes some of my favorite methods and models of expression (well, perhaps not so much favorite as simply compelling): lo real maravillosofrom email

[The editor responds: You describe an experience similar to mine back in 1996. These personal epiphanies make a huge difference, don't they?]

Let me congratulate you and your staff for creating and maintaining a wonderful website. I love it! I also love your writer's guidelines, finding them concise and definitive and useful.—Abigail Padgett

[The editor responds: Our guidelines have been rewritten a number of times and we can tell they're clear by the fact that the quality and applicability of unsolicited manuscripts has gone up over the years. Thanks for reading and following our guidelines, we don't write them for nothin'!]

May 2005

I was visiting your Margin website because I am going to submit my writing for your upcoming Passages to India anthology, when I clicked to your information. I love what you do, and your perspective on writing. I wanted to thank you for your work!—Neesha Dosanjh Meminger

[The editor responds, November 2005: Our "Passages to India" theme for Spring 2006 has been replaced by a general international theme entitled "A World of Magical Realism." We're still running a comprehensive article on Indian magical realists, however, so keep your eyes peeled for that one when it's posted in June.]

I'm an avid reader who just came across your website; I love the idea of a magazine devoted to magical realism. I'd like to read more about its history and find out what's going on in it today.—from email

I'm a graduate student in creative writing and I am ecstatic about finding your website. I hope to read and submit work. Thanks, I was feeling somewhat isolated in this writing pursuit!—Rosemary

[The editor responds: You are not alone, Rosemary; it's hard enough to write a good piece of fiction, even harder when the rest of the world has trouble "filing" it. This means that the biases of editors and publishers often misdirect otherwise good work. Keep trying; even since we started five years ago, the general appeal and acceptability of magical realism in genre and literary markets has increased dramatically. Folks are coming around.]

Wow, I am truly impressed with this site. I will be a first year literature Master's student trying to choose an area of study—this site has really encouraged me to consider magical realism as an area of specialization, and prompts me to attempt some magical realist writing of my own.…—Erika

April 2005

I really enjoy this genre of literature and want to get my hands on as much information about it as possible!—"jackie"

March 2005

I was much moved by your essay; thank you for your empathic reading of my work.—Sara Paretsky

I'm interested in possibly submitting some of my writing for publication. Also, I just really like the web site. :) —Todd Carnesus

Do I dream? An entire publication dedicated to the study of my favourite genre? This is the coolest thing ever.—(unsigned)

I've been teaching Magical Realism texts in my college classes for years and have found Margin to be a really valuable resource. Now I'd just like to make it official. Thanks!—Anonymous

I'm thrilled to discover a literary arts journal of such high quality that addresses one of my greatest loves—magical realism! Thanks for your work.—"richmanshira"

February 2005

You do fine credit to Rulfo in your column, noting his influence on García Márquez. A reading of "Anacleto Morones" in El Llano en Llamas will also reveal the Mexican's influence on the Colombian's "Blacamán the Good," both stories depending on a marvelous narrative voice and the usurpation and destruction of the master by the protege.—Ewing Campbell

The five-year anniversary issue teems with delectable writing and images of haunting beauty. I especially liked the poem by B.H. Fairchild, the story by Bruce Holland Rogers and your piece on Juan Rulfo. When my husband and I were first falling in love, we courted by exchanging books that were important to us. At the time I looked for an English translation of Pedro Páramo without success. Finally I just sat my beloved down with my old Spanish copy and translated aloud into English for him paragraph by paragraph. It was inconceivable that I not be able to share such a masterpiece with him. In a few days, I'll include in my Valentine's Day gift package to him one downloaded copy from my single computer of your Rulfo article for our personal, non-commercial use, without altering any copyright, author attribution or proprietary notices!—Jan Steckel

I just wanted to tell you what a great job you did on the latest Margin ... the issue looks really good.—Kathryn Kulpa

Jan 2005

Thank you, I have just started on my second novel, and had no idea what to do with the first until I realized that I was a magic realism writer. Now at least I can present myself to prospective agents and publishers.—David Roy Schervish

When I needed it most I stumble into such a wonderful and helpful site…it's like magic!—Jorge Carreon, The Netherlands

I have just found your website and am absolutely delighted to see that there is at last an informative and comprehensive website on Magical Realism. Your lists of recommended reading and reviews are fantastic and certainly give the genre the recognition and authority it has long deserved. As an undergraduate student, I feel that throughout my studies in English literature, the power and influence of Magical Realism has been overlooked, and so I am presently considering writing an extended essay exploring the topic. — Caelainn Barr, Galway, Ireland

[The editor responds: We'd love to hear some MR tales from the Emerald Isle! ]

I congratulate you on a great web site and enjoyed both the variety and originality it encompasses. —Subscriber, name withheld upon request

I have successfully managed to navigate Yahoo directions to become a member. Now, I am wondering about subscribing for your Periphery publication. Is it possible to purchase previous copies? —Amanda Chapman

[The editor responds: Thanks for becoming a subscriber! Regarding Periphery: this is an annual magical realist 'zine we print in midsummer and sell as a fundraising item throughout the year. It's collectible and handmade, certainly worth the $6 we're asking. By simply selling these at conferences and through mail order we acquire enough money to make it possible to pay our writers. So, to answer your question, NO, Periphery isn't a subscription, but YES, you most certainly can buy one or more copies. Go to the Periphery website for specific purchasing instructions. ]

I have enjoyed perusing the site. The poetry by Fairchild and Hettich was powerful. I'd like to subscribe! —Stephen Benz

[The editor responds: There are new links to Fairchild and Hettich in the anniversary edition, as well! Thanks for reading. ]

I would like to join your group, because I really enjoy your website. —Alan T. Sippola

[The editor responds: Hi Alan. Thanks for "opting in" for our new (and we hope, improved) subscribers' list! ]

Loved, loved, loved reading Margin! I'm thrilled to find a site for magic realism, and not just any old site, but really nicely done, too. Thanks! —Bridget Cougar

It's midnight, I'm sleepless in Sitka. I'm curious about Margin…Been submitting poetry since 1999. I like the global exposure Margin has—I'm wanting to learn new things/ideas/perspectives.—Subscriber, name withheld upon request

Dec 2004

Very well done, Tamara! This was the first time I've visited Margin's site. I enjoyed Bruce Holland Rogers' column on finding literary markets for some speculative fiction as well as your column on Latin American speculative fiction, and I think it's gutsy of you to try to get bookstores to shelve magical realism (or just fantasy, it sounds like) separate from the other sub-genres of speculative fiction. Good luck on that—I've also wished that science fiction would be shelved separately from fantasy, though for the opposite reason. ;)—Tiffany Jonas, Editorial Director, Aio Publishing Co., LLC, "A new breed of science fiction..." www.aiopublishing .com

Hi, I'm an English major and have fallen under the spell of magical-realism. I'm new to the genre, but am learning all that I can. This sounds like a great place to learn more about it.—J Munoz

Nov 2004

I am writing a novel and a series of short stories that could be classed as magical realism. I would like to learn more about the genre and where and how to market my work.—Subscriber, name withheld upon request

It will be great to have access to smart people and read more about magical realism in all its forms.—Subscriber, name withheld upon request

Oct 2004

Earlier this year, I self-published a book that brought me back to a way of writing that I loved early in my career—and I've never been happier! I have also carried it over to my film projects. The main problem (I thought) was going to be in finding a home and audience. Your site, along with Mr. Magic Realism, has inspired me to push forward and let me know the audience is definitely there… I just read the contest winning short story—"Cecelia"—how beautiful! When it comes to Magic Realism I just can't put it down. --Lisa Stock

. . . intrigued with magic and don quixote . . . a master of magic in fiction . . .--david inkey

You have lots of information that is very helpful, thank you.--Pat Banks

Hi, . . . I love your magazine! Magical Realism is my genre of choice and it helps to see other writers and to learn from them. Thanks,--Shannon Downey

Sept 2004

What a beautiful collection . . . I love the authors' notes, too.--Karen Lewis

What a great list of books and authors. I'm also thrilled to see poetry here. Way to go!--Jennifer Swanton Brown

One day when I was cruising through the web, I found an article which I believe was a "conversation" between the editors of Margin on the various types of stories that would be considered MR. Due to a change in service providers, etc., I now cannot locate this article even after reviewing the links page on the Margin website. Would you happen to know what article I'm referring to? Would it be possible for you to send me that link? My writing group wants to refer to the list and try our hand at a few of the story types. . . . Thank you for your time.--Catherine Cole Janonis
[The editor responds: Hey, thanks for asking! Here's the direct link. I believe it is still accessible through the main contents page (not the current contents page), but I'll doublecheck to make sure it is easily accessible, since I think it's one of our more useful pages for readers and writers of magical realism. . . . And I'm flattered, besides. It took some doing to put the "types" article together, I'm pleased to know it's being used! Thanks. . . . Good luck with your writing group project, and feel free to correspond with me regarding the outcome of your experiment. I'm always interested in such pursuits, perhaps you could send me a written detailing? I'd be happy to publish anything my readers send that has to do with the exploration of magical realism.]
Thank you for your response. My writing group, which includes Sandra Maddux-Creech, who is shortly to be published in your journal, will start working on our project and let you know how it comes out.--Catherine Cole Janonis

With so many contemp lit mags leaning toward a straight and narrow definition of poetry it is refreshing that you are willing to accept and publish writing from the fringe. --Allison deFreese

Please add me to your list. Your site entices, I am very interested in the mystical experiences of life, the unexplained inside each of us needs an avenue for growth! Cheers.--Clarissa

Aug 2004

I was listening to kelli russell agodon's poems on a link that my brother kent chadwick sent on and found my way to margin. quite wonderful. please keep me informed. --Gregg Chadwick

We have visited the website and congratulations are due for "Songs Spun In Island Time: Caribbean Magical Realism." . . . Will spread the word. Warm wishes.--Jeremy Poynting, Peepal Tree Press

Thanks so much for responding to my inquiry. While I want to conclude that the muse insists on creating such a magical realist writing group myself, I am first considering all that must be done in order to manage such a group along with my other responsibilities—surely you know this firsthand with your grand (and wonderful!) undertaking of Margin. . . . I promise to keep you posted. It is likely that I will start a group—just need some time to assess the needs and desires for a group of such writers and devise a realistic plan to make it functional. I'm one of those weary of lists unless they focus on "topical business" only so am researching some groups for a good "serious" model to fashion after. . . . Thank you again for your input and also for the amazing contribution you give to magical realism around the world. A joy! --Kristina Arntz
[Editor's note: Kristina Arntz originally inquired into resources and/or ideas for a magical realist writer's group. If you are interested in starting up such a group, drop Tamara Sellman an e-mail with your ideas. With enough interest, I'm sure we could collectively come up with something!]

Periphery arrived yesterday and I'm delighted with its quality. Bravo to you and the other editors! Not only are the poems of high quality but the layout, artwork, arrangement of pieces, even the paper reflects discerning taste! Thanks again for including "The Collector."--Erin Fristad

I received my Periphery copies—they look great!! Congratulations on such a cool publication. I'm very happy to be a part of it.--Marge Manwaring

Thanks for mentioning the Writing the Other workshop in your excellent and thought-provoking column. Well researched, too. . . . You might wanna look at the interview Lenox Avenue did with me, online at Gets a little into the whys and wherefores of what I do, both in my fiction and in the class. . . . Will be teaching the workshop again soon in LA. . . . I'll check in again on Margin soon.--Nisi Shawl

Read your column on "Otherness" with interest. It reinforces—if I read it correctly—what I believe about magic realism, surrealism and irrealism. All these "isms" have to be grounded in reality. Even "magic" itself is based on learned and practiced techniques. When this grounding isn't apparent, what is then produced is fantasy, which in my lexicon is a pejorative. . . . I myself am leery of speaking for or on behalf of the "Other," unless I can locate it within myself. One of the best approaches to this idea of finding the "Other" in oneself is found at the end of "Steppenwolf" when Harry Haller is told not so much to reject the wolf within him but to locate the other souls circulating in his psyche, to reject a limiting dualism of character. This is especially good advice to the writer, both for exploring his/her own psyche and to avoid the pretension of speaking for another. . . . Good essay!--Garrett Rowlan

You have lots of information that is very helpful. Thank you.--Pat Banks

July 2004

Still receiving occasional good comments regarding the interview with me at Margin -- thanks! It's a truly fine magazine and I feel proud to have been a small part of it.--Mary Elizabeth Parker

Fascinating site!--Beverly Bass

Please subscribe me to Margin. What I like about the magazine and the site is that they ignore the highly artificial distinctions between genres—distinctions that, in my mind, often have more to do with publishing and promotion than the essential spirit of a work. Thanks!-- John Branseum

I have a suggestion for an addition to the reading recommendations at MARGIN. The Fox Woman, by Kij Johnson. . . . Just want to say Margin is great & I love magical realism.--Katie Klein
[Editor's note: If you find we've not listed your favorite magical realism story, author, book, poem or other publication of magical realism, contact us with your recommendation. We update the reading list annually every fall.]

Great site. This is eye—and ear—opening. Thanks.--Frederick Hinchliffe 2nd

. . .I love your idea of [sending] magical realism to the troops. They'll understand it right away . . . All the best and thanks again.--John Briggs

June 2004

Thank you for having a site like this.--Nadine

The Songs Spun in Island Time issue of Margin was a tour de force. I was so proud to be a part of it. I especially enjoyed Ewing Campbell's "Two Men Do Not Dream the Same Dream," but the entire issue was powerful and enchanting. Bravo! All the best.--Jan Steckel

Hello! I would like to subscribe to Margin as I am a new grad student in English. I have so enjoyed reading Salman Rushdie, and hope to do more reading and research on other "Magical Realist" authors! . . . However, most of the time it is not easy for me to "translate" for instance, what Rushdie is doing in the Satanic Verses and in Midnight's Children. I am new at it! I would love to have access to your journal for this reason; I know that by reading more criticism and examples of how Magical Realism is used (especially in characterizations of "the Other"!), I would benefit tremendously. . . . I really like the design of your journal! It's so perfect for the topic it serves! Thanks very much.--Julie Roberts, San Antonio, TX

[The editor notes: We hope to cover more Rushdie territory in Margin in the coming editions. Stay tuned!]

May 2004

The reading list is delightfully wide-ranging! I would like to suggest the addition of Louis Sachar, whose young adult novel, Holes, definitely fits the magical realism category. While most children's literature has by nature at least a touch of magical realism, Sachar's hilarious Wayside School books (Sideways Stories from Wayside School, Wayside School is Falling Down and Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger) kick younger readers over the fence into firm magical realism territory.

Thanks again for a fascinating resource. --Karen Eisenbrey

[The editor responds: Thanks, Karen. This fall, look for our children's reading list in the Autumn edition of Margin. We'll likely run a future feature on Louis Sachar as the "kidlit" department develops. Other children's authors we're excited about: Francesca Lia Block, David Almond. Stay tuned!]

Apr 2004

I ***really*** appreciate Margin. I've written in the magical realism "vein" for decades & there seem to be so few outlets for this style of work. -- Brian Biswas

Thank you for providing this forum.-- Andrew Grossman

Mar 2004

Found your site through Oprah's book club feature on One Hundred Years of Solitude. I'm a visual artist and magical realism is more than just a theme for me. It's a medium, so of course I thought your site which promotes works in this genre is fabulous!

Thank you for putting up such a site. Your contribution to the development of people's creative potential is a most needed input in a world that needs to go back to its creative soul. -- Winnie Rose Reyes

Some wonderful poems on the site now! Simic, Suarez, Kelly...-- Kelley White

Hi, found this site and am about to begin a unit on magic realism/fantastic realism. Thought it might be helpful for me and my students to be able to view, read, think about, and analyze all that you have to offer. -- Susan Tuzzolino, Teacher/English

I got your link through a friend of mine and I'm LOVING THIS. -- Lauren Mathews

Thank you for an electronic delivery of excellent literary content...-- Cornell Brellenthin

Feb 2004

I love magic realism and this is the best current venue I've found devoted exclusively to it. -- Tracie Vida

Yahoo! I'm thrilled to find you. I primarily write poetry and to find a venue for magical realist poems feels akin to a miracle . . . and such high quality work, Bravo. -- Erin Fristad

I recently used Margin for an English oral presentation on magic realism and if it can be fully accepted in a modern western world. It really helped me a lot. I learned so much and I got an A! thanks! -- unsigned, in e-mail

OK, I had read some (not all) of the essays on "basic definitions" without much satisfaction, but just read the Bruce Holland Rogers definition and that was very clearly written and strikes me as "IT" . . . . Writing the miraculous as ordinary and the ordinary as miraculous says it very, very nicely. Well, I was supposed to tear myself away earlier and here I sit still reading and writing. Have a good day. -- Sandy Sanchez

I am thrilled to suscribe to Margin and learn more about magic realism and its wonderful authors, artists and infinite elements that contributes to our current world. Thank you and congratulations! -- Juliana Recio

Jan 2004

I'm the only one who writes magical realism in my writer's group—I look forward to reading more about the greater world of magical realism. -- Deb Auten

Ian Wild's, "The Woman Who Swallowed the Book of Kells" is hilarious. I haven't laughed so hard in a while . . .very much fun! Thank you! -- Peter Riordan

[The editor responds: Peter, it's our pleasure! We got a kick out of that one, too; no wonder it's a prizewinner.]

Was just reading your essay Lassoing Clouds and was glad to see the reference to one of my favorite ever novels, A Winter's Tale, by Mark Helprin. . . . I personally think that all great literature contains elements of magical realism because it is the "magic" that makes the "realism" timeless and universal. The modern American emphasis on "slice of life" writing really falls into a different category than literature, journalism maybe or contemporary history which is also very important in a society that builds upon its past. But I always understood "literature" had to transcend the daily and the strictly personal. Not sure where I picked up this notion, maybe during an education that occurred a very long time ago. Anyway, as usual, good job. -- Sandy Sanchez

[The editor responds: Sandy, indeed, "literature" must transcend. Interestingly, I've had these same thoughts lately while reading Gabriel García Márquez's memoir, Living to Tell the Tale, which reads very much like "literature" even though its focuses are on the minutiae and personal experiences of the acclaimed author. Talk about transcendent . . . I highly recommend the book.]

Interesting column ("Motives for Writing Magical Realism") . . . I thought most of your points were very astute as usual.

You listed as a reason some writers might want to write MR is that they have Hispanic background and believe that is what is expected of them. I am married to a Mexican man but my own background is Eastern European Jewish and I have wondered why people so often think of magical realism as being a Latin thing. Prague of course couldn't be more symbolic of a magical realist ambience, Kafka of course, Fritz Lang's films, the myth of the Gollum. The novel, The Famished Road by Nigerian author Ben Okri certainly had elements of magical realism (the story of a boy who comes back from the dead).

It has always seemed to me that magical realist literature is the natural outgrowth of literature that evolves from mythology, and mythology, of course, is universal.

I wonder if the emphasis on HISPANIC magical realism is due to the fact that Salvador Dali and the filmmaker [Luis] Bruneul were more highly visible surrealists than the Eastern European surrealists. I suspect, perhaps wrongly, that García Márquez, as a young film critic, was influenced by Dali and Bruneul.

I do think, though, that film itself was an important part of the evolution or return of magical realism to literature because the technology made it possible to make illusion real (i.e. visible).

Its been 40 years since I saw La Chien Andalou and I can still visualize it absolutely vividly . . . Making magical realism vivid and believable may be easier in film because you have not just the spoken word but music and visual illusions. -- Sandy Sanchez

RE: The Bookshelf Challenge: It's definitely a chore to locate books of this stripe systematically. I appreciate your Margin Amazon list. . . . I'm slowly unearthing some wonderful works. A friend here in Seattle gave me a copy of René Crevel's Babylon a few weeks ago and I loved it. I'm not sure if that falls under the magic realism genre, but it dances around the fringe at least, with its surrealist roots and childlike, hallucinatory narrative.-- A.R. Menne

Margin's newsletter is by far the most polished, interesting newsletter I have ever beheld. Keep it coming! -- Sara Quest

Dec 2003

I've been very pleased to see Margin continuing—you're doing good work there. -- Wayne Ude, author, Buffalo and Other Stories

I adore your "links" section, Tamara! It is a fascinating trek through quality, magical sites! : ) -- Sara Quest, publishing professional and author, Become a Well-Paid Book Reviewer

[The editor responds: Sara, You'll be pleased to learn that the links page will grow by more than two dozen new additions in January 2004.]

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