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Old 02-05-2013, 03:49 AM   #176
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The magic in Magical Realism can’t be separated from reality. It isn’t an add-on, or an inclusion. It isn’t that “this is reality and this is magic”, it’s that this is reality, and so is this. This is the way the world works, but so is this. The more you are wedded to one version of reality, the less you will appreciate Magical Realism. The more you are willing to acknowledge our inability to define the boundaries of reality, the more you will appreciate it. The same is true of literary fiction in general.
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Old 02-05-2013, 04:24 AM   #177
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Another way to think about it is the magic in magic realism can't be separated from the story. Because the magic works as a metaphor for reality, and because the story gives the context for reality in the fiction, you can't disentangle the two.

In most spec fic, if you take out the story, the fantastical elements still make sense as standalone worldbuilding. The opposite tends to be true for magic realism.
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Old 02-11-2013, 06:37 AM   #178
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Originally Posted by kuwisdelu View Post
Another way to think about it is the magic in magic realism can't be separated from the story. Because the magic works as a metaphor for reality, and because the story gives the context for reality in the fiction, you can't disentangle the two.

In most spec fic, if you take out the story, the fantastical elements still make sense as standalone worldbuilding. The opposite tends to be true for magic realism.
Excellent, succinct comment. Very well expressed.

Wrinkles' comment also very good.

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Old 02-15-2013, 04:12 AM   #179
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The magic in Magical Realism can’t be separated from reality. It isn’t an add-on, or an inclusion. It isn’t that “this is reality and this is magic”, it’s that this is reality, and so is this. This is the way the world works, but so is this. The more you are wedded to one version of reality, the less you will appreciate Magical Realism. The more you are willing to acknowledge our inability to define the boundaries of reality, the more you will appreciate it. The same is true of literary fiction in general.
...and....

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Originally Posted by Neporsche View Post
if you draw upon the philosophies of those who believe in actual magic, in which it is understood to be more of a stacking of the odds of an outcome rather than fire flying from one's fingertips.
I'm still new to reading up on the 'genre' per se, so I'm drawing on my own interests, etc. more than what I've actually read of other peoples' work but would I be correct in saying that the world presented in an MR novel is very similar to our own, but accepts certain elements as 'reality' within that world that are considered to be make believe or even false in our own?

I've read up a fair amount on magic, esoteric practices like alchemy, astrology (not the daily horoscope stuff, but serious charting) astral realms, entities, etc. and in the worlds I write in, those things are accepted by at least some of the characters as real. Sort of like there are all these things that go on behind the scenes that some but not all the characters are aware of. Yes, I'm a conspiracy buff as well

For example in one, a psychic really does channel an entity at a seance, in another, a sorcerer really can manipulate the dead but the characters operate primarily in a mundane world much like our own... And even when they don't believe in such things they're left with no choice but to go along.
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Old 02-15-2013, 05:11 AM   #180
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I'm still new to reading up on the 'genre' per se, so I'm drawing on my own interests, etc. more than what I've actually read of other peoples' work but would I be correct in saying that the world presented in an MR novel is very similar to our own, but accepts certain elements as 'reality' within that world that are considered to be make believe or even false in our own?
Close, but not quite.

The fantastical elements in the story are "realistic" in our own world when viewed metaphorically.

Magic realism uses the fantastical to explore the mundane.

That's where the "realism" comes — magic realism uses the magical to depict the realistic. Experiences that might "feel" fantastical in real life are depicted as fantastical in magic realism.

It's basically an acknowledgement of the adage "sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction," so in order to write realistically, you have to write stranger than realism. Hence, "magical" realism.
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Old 02-15-2013, 12:05 PM   #181
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Close, but not quite.

The fantastical elements in the story are "realistic" in our own world when viewed metaphorically.

Magic realism uses the fantastical to explore the mundane.

That's where the "realism" comes — magic realism uses the magical to depict the realistic. Experiences that might "feel" fantastical in real life are depicted as fantastical in magic realism.
The more I read this thread, the less grasp I have of magical realism.

Examples would help - not links to suggested books, not vague phrases that sound like an MFA class sprawled out on the lawn, discussing "deep subjects" - how about some sample paragraphs, either in actual stories or made up right now?

I probably sound cranky, but I'm not itching for a fight, just trying to understand ...

or maybe I just sound dense. Which I admittedly am about this subject.

ETA: Ok, I've thought about it and I DEFINITELY sound cranky. Sorry. Don't mean to be. I'm just not sure why I don't get this.
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Old 02-15-2013, 02:37 PM   #182
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Originally Posted by juniper View Post
or maybe I just sound dense. Which I admittedly am about this subject.

ETA: Ok, I've thought about it and I DEFINITELY sound cranky. Sorry. Don't mean to be. I'm just not sure why I don't get this.
Don't worry, I understand. I have two books full with criticism about magical realism and its history. The term has many meanings, there is little agreement and lots of overlap. If you never use the term and smile and nod when you encounter it, you should be fine. The books are often good, though.

That's not to say that the term is useless, and as just about everyone I, too, have an idea what it means (though nothing especially concrete). I'm sure I'll just add a bit to the confusion, but anyway, I'm going to talk about it now. First, I'm going to give an abstract overview, and then I'm going to provide an example, with a link to the short story in question, so you can read it. If you get bored reading me babbling skip ahead to the bold-print word "example" below.

First, I don't think that "magical realism" is a type of text. Rather it's a type of relationship between reader and text. That is you can read a specific text differently, and depending on your reactions to the text your reading a different "genre". But some texts might give you more enjoyment if you read them in another way.

The term "Magical realism" has two parts: "magical" and "realism". Because we think of magic as outside of "realism", this seems to be a contradiction to people who don't believe that magic exists. This contradiction is matter of point of view, and magical realism has a specific attitude towards it.

When you write about something that doesn't/shouldn't exist, you have a couple of possibilities:

a) Science fiction and fantasy normalise the element that causes the contradiction. Both science fiction and fantasy say that if X happens then there are laws that allow for X to happen and X is bound by those laws. There are people who say that SF and F are very different, but I don't really think they are. The "speculative element" is rule-bound in either genre, and how those rules look differs from book to book. As a genrealisation you might say that SF concerns itself with cause and effect, while fantasy concerns itself with some sort of metaphysical balance sheet, but there are many different ways to draw that dividing line, and in the end it's not all that important how you do it, and certainly not in this thread.

b) Then you can take a step back and relativise the element in question. Psychological fiction often does this, especially if the dominant point of view is unreliable. Often there's no clear indication whether the things really happened or not, and it's not important, since the element in question is part of characterisation.

c) At some point the system tilts and you drop into surrealism. That is: rather than the story normalising the element in question (as in SF/F), or relativisng the element in question (as in psychological), reality stops making sense, and you enter a stage that is pure sensation, association, dream. Surrealism.

d) Once you push through surrealism, you realise that crisis of what's real is normal. Magical Realism normalises the very occurance of such events. It doesn't normalise a magical event like SF/F ("Wow, X really exists!"), nor does it relativise it ("you just think that X happened, but you have no proof"). And neither is the element in question a threat to your world view; the magical realist view isn't shaken by the anormal; it's normal to encounter the anormal. That does not mean that you don't marvel at it. But there's no basic difference between dragon passing by your window, and a hord of platypusses causing a traffic jam. You marvel at the marvel... and move on with your life.

Most of the people who write about magical realism agree that Gabriel Garcia Marquez' stories are magical realist, so what better

example

could we use than a story by Marquez. Here it is:

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

Have you read the story? Good. So how did you react? Depending on your reaction, you might have read a different genre:

a) Was this really an angel? (SF/F)
aa) Did God send him? Does it have to do something with the illness? (F)
ab) I wonder if there are other angels. Where do they live? Surely, people would notice them flying through the air? How do they hide? (SF)

b/d) This story with its omniscient narrator and attention to detail doesn't really allow for a psychological reading. A surrealist reading is out of the question, too; it's all very matter-of-fact.

c) Heh, they thought he was an angel, and then they used him as an attraction. As expected, really. (Magical Realism)

Note that it's possible to have many of those reactions simultaneously, since they're usually not mutually exclusive. A text like, say, Iris Murdoch's The Sea, the Sea includes elements that can be believed or explained away, and either reaction works, leading to a vastly different outcome of the story.

Your worldview matters to a certain extent when you try to classify magical realism; that's part of the game.
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Old 03-31-2013, 08:06 PM   #183
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Well, I’ve read through all of the posts in this thread and through quite a lot of the linked articles, and while one would think that would make things clear enough, I’m still left with some nagging questions.

To be clear this isn’t an attempt to change existing MR definitions to a more agreeable liking, nor is it some sort of devil’s advocate attempt to stir things up.

Instead, it’s an attempt to provide a bit more clarification to the less literarily minded (myself included) who see their work as (possibly) interstitial, but lacking a clear label to employ, choose MR as the closest fit.

You can’t exactly list a work as “interstitial” in a query letter.

Put another way, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, but looks like a cat, then calling it a duck could be perilous …

I’m hoping that some of the more ardent and knowledgeable of the posters thus far will give their opinions here, as I think it would be very helpful

Story Setting

While it seems that MR is almost universally set in our own, current world, I have seen a few more recent works also being given that label. (works by Gaiman, Mievillee, etc.); works that take place elsewhere (but not else-when)

So, if a story takes place in a secondary world that is not a temporal and/or technological analog to our own, is it immediately disqualified from being MR? Additionally, would the occurrence of an apocalyptic event that has never occurred on Earth likewise be a disqualifier?

As a corollary I guess, does MR require the actual existence of current political and cultural events in the setting in order to comment upon them?

Genre Soup

For the sake of illustration, I’m more or less using the genre categories from the glossary of the 2013 Novel & Short Stories Writer’s market.

Can a work be considered Fantasy if it has no actual “magic” in it? MR seems to rely instead on what I will call “psionics” (telepathy, telekinesis, et al) and the appearance of ghosts and other non-corporeal beings.

That would seem to bend the “genre” toward Paranormal, but since in the writer’s world that word is almost inextricably linked to the word Romance, that seems a poor fit. I don’t think any work of MR would be classified as Paranormal Romance, nor would most fantasy works. It is a specific sub-genre of its own.

The next available word, and one that I see used in MR definitions is “supernatural”, but that seems to conjure an association to Supernatural Horror, and while sometimes quite horrific things occur in MR, it would not be classified as such, nor would most fantasy works, despite occasionally horrific imagery and the inclusion of dead things in both types of stories.

And that brings us to Dark Fantasy. But if what might appear to be ghosts and zombies and vampires really aren’t any of these things, then what genre would be left to describe such works? Likewise, the “spirits” that tend to appear in MR aren’t exactly what we could call the undead, as their presence and means of their existence are usually not explained in those terms.

I think the above may be one of the reasons why authors are increasingly using the MR label to try and define their works. Lacking a clear genre place to land, and especially if their works include any of the other precepts of MR, and more especially if intentionally so, then the application of the MR label may be all that they have left, “valid” or not.

Agent and Reader Expectations

Clearly, both from the posts above and the discussions linked, the definition of MR is a bit in flux. You have of course the traditional and original works of MR and their adherents. But there also seems to be an increasing recognition of other works, some of which were never marketed as MR, but are being labeled as such after the fact.

Additionally, you have some (many) agents that while they ostensibly represent fantasy authors, have also begun showing (and announcing) an interest in works that are magical realism. But do they truly know what they are asking for?

That isn’t meant in a disparaging way at all. Confusion seems rife on all sides, and while what an agent (or a reader) might consider to be MR may not track exactly with what the traditionalists say it is, they are looking for something.

To paraphrase the Congressional porn hearings, I may not know exactly how to describe magical realism, but I know it when I see it.

((I think any (anonymous or not) agent insight on this would be wonderful.))

So in closing, I guess where I’ve gotten to is the idea, or more correctly the question, is there such a thing as “New Magical Realism”? And if so, can we construct a definition for it?

Or, are genre authors trying to tap into a more literary label for their works (especially if these works don’t fit neatly within established genre labels) and/or are they simply trying to write toward a new thing that agents are asking for?

But please, don’t limit your answers to simple yeses and noes for those two closing questions. I just needed a summation.
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Old 03-31-2013, 08:47 PM   #184
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gru'ud View Post
Story Setting

While it seems that MR is almost universally set in our own, current world, I have seen a few more recent works also being given that label. (works by Gaiman, Mievillee, etc.); works that take place elsewhere (but not else-when)

So, if a story takes place in a secondary world that is not a temporal and/or technological analog to our own, is it immediately disqualified from being MR? Additionally, would the occurrence of an apocalyptic event that has never occurred on Earth likewise be a disqualifier?
Not at all.

It's entirely possible to write magic realism in a futuristic setting or a fantasy world.

I think I'm mentioned earlier that I think you can write a work of fiction that's both sci-fi/fantasy and magic realism.

That does however make it more difficult to identify whether or not you've actually written magic realism or not, if you're not really sure what you're writing.

Quote:
As a corollary I guess, does MR require the actual existence of current political and cultural events in the setting in order to comment upon them?
It's popular to do so, especially in Latin American fiction that's magic realism, but I don't think it's necessary.

Quote:
Genre Soup

For the sake of illustration, I’m more or less using the genre categories from the glossary of the 2013 Novel & Short Stories Writer’s market.

Can a work be considered Fantasy if it has no actual “magic” in it? MR seems to rely instead on what I will call “psionics” (telepathy, telekinesis, et al) and the appearance of ghosts and other non-corporeal beings.
I wouldn't really say that's accurate at all. Magic realism can involve any kind of magic, supernatural phenomena, or fantastical elements.

It seems to me there's plenty of "low fantasy" that involves little if any magic, but I don't claim to know much about fantasy.

Quote:
That would seem to bend the “genre” toward Paranormal, but since in the writer’s world that word is almost inextricably linked to the word Romance, that seems a poor fit. I don’t think any work of MR would be classified as Paranormal Romance, nor would most fantasy works. It is a specific sub-genre of its own.
The only thing magic realism and paranormal romance have in common is that they both involve some kind of fantastical elements, but they also have that in common with most sub-genres that fall under speculative fiction.

One of the primary differentiating features of magic realism versus other spec fic sub-genres is the motivation for the fantastical elements of the story. The fantastical elements of magic realism function primarily metaphorically and arise naturally from the needs of the story, whereas the fantastical elements in other spec fic tend to be part of the world-building, follow specific rules, and the story is constructed around them.

They are very different approaches to story-writing.

It is entirely possible to mix them, though, I think.

Quote:
The next available word, and one that I see used in MR definitions is “supernatural”, but that seems to conjure an association to Supernatural Horror, and while sometimes quite horrific things occur in MR, it would not be classified as such, nor would most fantasy works, despite occasionally horrific imagery and the inclusion of dead things in both types of stories.
See above.

Quote:
And that brings us to Dark Fantasy. But if what might appear to be ghosts and zombies and vampires really aren’t any of these things, then what genre would be left to describe such works? Likewise, the “spirits” that tend to appear in MR aren’t exactly what we could call the undead, as their presence and means of their existence are usually not explained in those terms.
See above.

Quote:
I think the above may be one of the reasons why authors are increasingly using the MR label to try and define their works. Lacking a clear genre place to land, and especially if their works include any of the other precepts of MR, and more especially if intentionally so, then the application of the MR label may be all that they have left, “valid” or not.
Ehh, considering there isn't even a magic realism section in the bookstore, I doubt that. What evidence do you have the "authors are increasingly using the MR label to try and define their works"?

Quote:
Agent and Reader Expectations

Clearly, both from the posts above and the discussions linked, the definition of MR is a bit in flux. You have of course the traditional and original works of MR and their adherents. But there also seems to be an increasing recognition of other works, some of which were never marketed as MR, but are being labeled as such after the fact.

Additionally, you have some (many) agents that while they ostensibly represent fantasy authors, have also begun showing (and announcing) an interest in works that are magical realism. But do they truly know what they are asking for?
As you can tell, lots of people define magic realism in their own way. They surely know what they mean when they say they're interested in magic realism. Whether that agrees with what you or I think magic realism is... who knows?

Quote:
That isn’t meant in a disparaging way at all. Confusion seems rife on all sides, and while what an agent (or a reader) might consider to be MR may not track exactly with what the traditionalists say it is, they are looking for something.

To paraphrase the Congressional porn hearings, I may not know exactly how to describe magical realism, but I know it when I see it.

((I think any (anonymous or not) agent insight on this would be wonderful.))

So in closing, I guess where I’ve gotten to is the idea, or more correctly the question, is there such a thing as “New Magical Realism”? And if so, can we construct a definition for it?
Never heard of it.

Quote:
Or, are genre authors trying to tap into a more literary label for their works (especially if these works don’t fit neatly within established genre labels) and/or are they simply trying to write toward a new thing that agents are asking for?
When I hear of authors trying to "tap into a more literary label" it usually involves rejecting another label like science fiction or fantasy rather embracing magic realism (e.g., Margaret Atwood).
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Old 04-01-2013, 06:12 PM   #185
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kuwisdelu View Post
One of the primary differentiating features of magic realism versus other spec fic sub-genres is the motivation for the fantastical elements of the story. The fantastical elements of magic realism function primarily metaphorically and arise naturally from the needs of the story, whereas the fantastical elements in other spec fic tend to be part of the world-building, follow specific rules, and the story is constructed around them.
I think this is very helpful. I’m sure it’s been said, but perhaps I’ve not quite heard it properly. To rearrange/restate for my own understanding …

In regular spec fic, magic (or what appears to be magic) serves the plot (even if it has no explained rules and its mechanics may not be part of the world building)

In MR, it serves the message the writer is trying to convey.

Is that right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kuwisdelu View Post
Ehh, considering there isn't even a magic realism section in the bookstore, I doubt that. What evidence do you have the "authors are increasingly using the MR label to try and define their works"?
Maybe it’s just my awareness of it that’s been increasing, although I don’t recall seeing it on agents request lists as much as it does now. I’m certainly not implying there are scads … and again it may just be my awareness of it, but I have seen it cropping up on query review sites, where in the past I’d not seen it at all.

Hence my question, are more people actually writing it, or are they just applying the label and hoping it will stick?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kuwisdelu View Post
As you can tell, lots of people define magic realism in their own way. They surely know what they mean when they say they're interested in magic realism. Whether that agrees with what you or I think magic realism is... who knows?
This comes back to my little duck vs. cat bit. As it applies to me (and maybe to others) the more important question is: What are they truly looking for?

If they are genuinely looking for “traditionalist” MR (the duck); one wouldn’t want to appear foolish (or be dismissed by an agent as a poser) if what you have looks a lot like a cat.

Leading me to believe (unless corrected by folks knowledgeable on the business side) that unless you have written something that is obviously traditional MR, it’d be safer not to call it that, and let posterity apply that label if it’s warranted.

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Originally Posted by Gru'ud View Post
… is there such a thing as “New Magical Realism”? And if so, can we construct a new definition for it?
Quote:
Originally Posted by kuwisdelu View Post
Never heard of it.
What I was going for here was, can/could there be such a thing, not is there such a thing. And, could this be what some agents are looking for?

Similar to what has been labeled as “New Weird”, is there room in the tent for a “New Magical Realism”, and if so, how would it be defined?

That’s not something I’m qualified to judge, so I was asking the audience. In the end, I think that would be more something defined by the industry than by “us” as writers …

But I would like to ask that question again, just to solicit opinions.

Thanks for the thoughtful replies kuwisdelu, they’ve been very helpful.
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Old 04-01-2013, 06:53 PM   #186
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Originally Posted by Gru'ud View Post
I think this is very helpful. I’m sure it’s been said, but perhaps I’ve not quite heard it properly. To rearrange/restate for my own understanding …

In regular spec fic, magic (or what appears to be magic) serves the plot (even if it has no explained rules and its mechanics may not be part of the world building)

In MR, it serves the message the writer is trying to convey.

Is that right?
Not quite, in my view, anyway.

Here are two brief definitions from my more in-depth blog post on the topic:

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Originally Posted by kuwisdelu
The first way I like to think about magic realism and surrealism is that they are genres in which the wall between the story's objective reality and metaphor is broken down until it no longer exists.
...
The other way I like to think about magic realism and surrealism is that they are genres in which the fantastical elements emerge from the story, rather than the story emerging from the fantastical elements.
When I write science fiction or fantasy, it usually starts with an idea of "hey this new technology/world/creature/magic system/other idea would be cool" and then in exploring that idea, a plot develops. I may think of a character independently of that, and by inserting the character into that world, a plot naturally develops. The story evolves from how that character and that world and that plot develop.

When I write magic realism, it goes the other way around. I start with a story — usually something realistic and mundane, i.e., without any fantastical elements — that I want to tell. As I think about how the character would experience the events of that story, certain metaphors come to mind when thinking about how those events feel. The fantastical elements of the story then arise from those metaphors and feelings. I use the fantastical elements to explore a mundane story.

Naturally, there are often times that all of these are intertwined, but that's the gist of it.

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Originally Posted by Gru'ud View Post
Maybe it’s just my awareness of it that’s been increasing, although I don’t recall seeing it on agents request lists as much as it does now. I’m certainly not implying there are scads … and again it may just be my awareness of it, but I have seen it cropping up on query review sites, where in the past I’d not seen it at all.

Hence my question, are more people actually writing it, or are they just applying the label and hoping it will stick?
No idea.

Quote:
This comes back to my little duck vs. cat bit. As it applies to me (and maybe to others) the more important question is: What are they truly looking for?
No idea.

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If they are genuinely looking for “traditionalist” MR (the duck); one wouldn’t want to appear foolish (or be dismissed by an agent as a poser) if what you have looks a lot like a cat.

Leading me to believe (unless corrected by folks knowledgeable on the business side) that unless you have written something that is obviously traditional MR, it’d be safer not to call it that, and let posterity apply that label if it’s warranted.
I think if it can be called science fiction or fantasy without upsetting the expectations of your audience, then go ahead and call it those.

In the end, the agent and editor will decide how to sell it anyway, not you.

Certainly the number of people who go looking for science fiction and fantasy is greater than the number of people who go looking for magic realism. Unless your story is so different that it would upset their expectations by calling it "science fiction" or "fantasy," then I'd just call it one of those. And you can always just go with the umbrella term "speculative fiction," which encompasses all of them, among other sub-genres.

Quote:
What I was going for here was, can/could there be such a thing, not is there such a thing. And, could this be what some agents are looking for?

Similar to what has been labeled as “New Weird”, is there room in the tent for a “New Magical Realism”, and if so, how would it be defined?
I don't know. I haven't read widely enough to notice it or not, I suppose.

Certainly, most magic realism is also literary fiction, and most of them time lay people don't bother calling novels that are literary fiction by their genres unless you're someone like me (who likes trying to find magic realism bildungsromans to read). Literary fiction gets thrown in the "Literature" section of the bookstore instead of divided out into genres (which leads to the misconception that "literary fiction" is itself a genre). So as more readers move online and the labeling becomes more accurate, maybe it'll become more noticeable as a genre?

Also, most people strongly associate magic realism with Latin American and Japanese novelists, and naturally such novels are strongly tied into the culture that produced them. So when Westerners and other writers write magic realism, it may "feel" different, which may be what you're noticing, but I'd be hesitant to call it a new genre because of that.

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That’s not something I’m qualified to judge, so I was asking the audience. In the end, I think that would be more something defined by the industry than by “us” as writers …

But I would like to ask that question again, just to solicit opinions.

Thanks for the thoughtful replies kuwisdelu, they’ve been very helpful.
No problem.
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Old 04-01-2013, 07:05 PM   #187
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When I read your term New Magical Realism, what popped into my mind was Sarah Addison Allen. Her works are termed Magical Realism, and it makes sense to me, BUT they are certainly different than the "traditional" works of MR.

The WIP I'm currently writing seems to fit most closely inside this idea of New MR. Unfortunate that it isn't a recognized term I can use in a query, when I get to that point. But who knows, maybe by the time I'm querying, it will be. "New Adult" is a new(er) classification, so it does happen.
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Old 04-01-2013, 07:23 PM   #188
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Originally Posted by ap123 View Post
When I read your term New Magical Realism, what popped into my mind was Sarah Addison Allen. Her works are termed Magical Realism, and it makes sense to me, BUT they are certainly different than the "traditional" works of MR.

The WIP I'm currently writing seems to fit most closely inside this idea of New MR. Unfortunate that it isn't a recognized term I can use in a query, when I get to that point. But who knows, maybe by the time I'm querying, it will be. "New Adult" is a new(er) classification, so it does happen.
Can you describe what these perceived "differences" are? What's "new" about them?

As it is, I have no idea what ya'll are talking about.

Unfortunately, I haven't read Ms. Allen.
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Old 04-01-2013, 09:52 PM   #189
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Originally Posted by kuwisdelu View Post
Can you describe what these perceived "differences" are? What's "new" about them?

As it is, I have no idea what ya'll are talking about.

Unfortunately, I haven't read Ms. Allen.
I'll try, never been a lit major I guess I'd say Ms. Allen's books are lighter, if that makes any sense. I like her stories, the way she uses the magical elements to enhance the experience, but they don't have (IMO) the same resonance as, say, Allende or Rushdie.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kuwisdelu View Post

When I write magic realism, it goes the other way around. I start with a story — usually something realistic and mundane, i.e., without any fantastical elements — that I want to tell. As I think about how the character would experience the events of that story, certain metaphors come to mind when thinking about how those events feel. The fantastical elements of the story then arise from those metaphors and feelings. I use the fantastical elements to explore a mundane story.
This ^^ what you've described here, is what makes me feel her work (and my current WIP) is accurately described as MR, as opposed to sci-fi, fantasy, or paranormal romance.

I like the further breakdown to New MR because these aren't works I would think of as literary. I don't *think* it's because of cultural differences. Food comes to mind as a metaphor. There is such a thing as fine American cuisine. Different than fine French, Spanish, or Asian food. Then you've got American food that may be excellent, but not what you'd think of when you think "fine" food--like one of the American restaurants that take burgers to a whole different level. You wouldn't confuse this type of burger with McDonald's or the local diner, but it's still a different experience than a formal restaurant where the meal is an experience that encompasses 5 hours.
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Old 04-01-2013, 09:58 PM   #190
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I like the further breakdown to New MR because these aren't works I would think of as literary.
I don't think magic realism has to be literary; it just very often is because of how the plot tends to be layered on top of the story.

It might also be you think of literary fiction differently than I do. It so happens I also have a blog post detailing my thoughts on literary fiction.
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Old 04-01-2013, 10:09 PM   #191
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Nice post.

You've got my wheels turning for later, when I'm ready to shop my manuscript. Assuming I ever finish the damned thing.
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Old 04-02-2013, 03:36 AM   #192
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Originally Posted by Gru'ud View Post
Similar to what has been labeled as “New Weird”, is there room in the tent for a “New Magical Realism”, and if so, how would it be defined?
Plain MR will do. If you talk about "New Magical Realism", you'll have to explain how the new MR is different from regular MR and that's sort of hard, since the term is pretty inclusive from the get-go.

"New Weird" wasn't really that new. It's got a lot in common with the editorial policy of the 60ies mag New World, which is associated with the New Wave. There's a lot of "new" going on, there - putting "New" before a one-syllable word beginning with "w" has a tradition: New Worlds --> New Wave --> New Weird --> Now What?
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Old 04-02-2013, 03:44 AM   #193
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Old 04-05-2013, 01:55 AM   #194
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I'm going to go way out on a limb here. Can someone tell me how magic realism is different from schizophrenia? We are talking about a narrator's perception of reality being different from the accepted version, right?
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Old 04-05-2013, 02:29 PM   #195
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I'm going to go way out on a limb here. Can someone tell me how magic realism is different from schizophrenia? We are talking about a narrator's perception of reality being different from the accepted version, right?
No. The narrator's reality tends to agree with the in-story reality.

Other characters in the story can perceive the same fantastical phenomena.
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Old 04-09-2013, 09:23 AM   #196
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Does The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu count as Magical Realism?

(I'm sorry if this has been mentioned)
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Old 04-19-2013, 06:00 AM   #197
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This is my favorite thread I've found since joining AW. Thank you all.

As a thought-pump, as they used to call them in philosophy classes:

In the estimation of fellow MR enthusiasts: can one have a MR story in which the central magical element of the story is actually real? For instance, let's say I have a story about a man who studies jellyfish which happen to be immortal.

In fact, there really are jellyfish which are more or less immortal (and I have written a story about a person who studies them).

This question struck me in my recent reading of a Murakami novel in which he goes on at length about how veterinarians have to deal with the fact that horses, when they die, nearly always die when the moon is full. I didn't actually look up whether this is true, but the feeling of that passage -- the feeling of the transformation of the mundane into the fantastical -- is the hallmark of MR.

(if you know whether the horse thing is true, DO NOT TELL PLZ).
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Old 04-25-2013, 04:44 AM   #198
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All magical realism stories are real. If they're not, they're fantasy.
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