Latino Fiction Literature Analysis Chapter 2 Part 2
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Latino Fiction &
he Modernist Imagination

By John S. Christie, Ph.D.

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6


 Part I Part I Part I Part 1 Part I Part I

Part II

Part II

Part II

Part II Part II Part II


Part III

Part III

Part III   Part III


Chapter Two (Part II): The "Magic" of Influence Upon Latino Narrative

       The "modernist" generations of early and mid 20th century Latin American writers (Borges, Carpentier, Asturius), were reacting in part to the limits of 19th century realism, regionalism (novels of the land) and criollismo (Chilean regionalism about people born in the Americas of Spanish descent) that preceded them in the works of writers like Guiraldes, Azuela, Gallegos, or Jose Eustasio Rivera (Giordano 127).  Since modernist thought in psychology, anthropology and sociology had altered conceptions of reality, emphasis upon the magical served as a method to connect with the mythical past (as Joyce and Pound and Eliot used western myth).  Yet in Latin America, writers reached out to non-western indigenous worlds and a truly "Latin American cultural inheritance" (Martinez "Ron Arias" 10).  They looked for new mythical origins in order to center their own world, and make sense of their own changing reality.  After 1935, with the publication of Borges's stories and translations of Kafka, (and especially during the decade of the 1940's), a large group of writers Angel Flores describes as magical realists ("Magical Realism" 190) began to instill in objects of reality a "magical" meaning, by emphasizing the unexplainable, celebrating the unknown of the "new world," and presenting the fantastic literally (Giordano 129).  As Flores explains, magical realism in narrative had existed for years in the diaries of Columbus, and the writings of new world chroniclers, and had "entered the literary mainstream during modernism" (189).   Borges's influential 1932 article "Narrative Art and Magic" advocated the use of detailed, convincing depictions of the magic where "every detail is an omen and a cause" (38) as the route where the "only possible integrity" for the novel lies (38) since the "natural" is "an incessant result of endless, uncontrollable processes" (38).   In the works of European modernists, the myth was used to juxtapose a shabby, drab reality with a glorious golden age.  For the Latin American modernists the myth was more vital and necessary as it connected one to the essence of Latin America, nature and the exotic.

            The next generation of Latin American writers (the "boom" generation of the 1950's and 1960's) was to declare the mythical journey back to the ancestors and origins irrelevant; the magical events and objects remain but they no longer provide epiphanic connections with the world.  We find still the dreamy, irrational aspects of otherworldly events and actions, but the mystical is not necessarily a means toward salvation or path toward perfection (Giordano 131).  Instead, the focus of writers like Rulfo, S?ato, Cortazar, Puig, or Garcia Marquez is upon an objective depiction of the "New World," one void of sentimentality and nostalgia.  To avoid comparing their Latin American realities with the European known, the "new" novelists sought a "different treatment of the external" (Young and Hollaman 5), and perhaps their desire was best accommodated by Carpentier's earlier notion of "the Marvelous in the Real."  This turned their attentions toward their unique surroundings and away from the introspection common to their modernist predecessors.  Whereas earlier writers had desired to identify with Indian myths and gods, the "Boom" generation was comfortable on the periphery, existing somewhere between the indigenous vitality of Latin America and the creative literary forces of western Europe.  

            As Chanady notes, magical realism is a blending of a "rational and an irrational world view," a synthesis of the coherent supernatural codes of primitive Americans and  logical European thought (Magical Realism 21).  That the outside world (that of Indian and African beliefs etc.) was unknown led to utilizing the magical to portray it.  Incorporating modernist literary methods, writers concerned themselves with the decentering of western perspective, so that cause and effect are "shuffled" and the world is not ordered logically.   As Camacho Guizado has written, more flexible literary techniques were necessary to capture the complexity of the magical within reality (135), and the use of magical realism as a "literary mode" (Chanady Magical Realism 21) became an essential narrative apparatus in accomplishing this.   

            To emphasize the unrecognized "new world" meant to question the written and the known, that is, European, metropolitan norms.  Consequently Latin American writers were attracted to a narrative form which permitted "an unexpected alteration of reality (a miracle)" and "an amplification of the measures and categories of reality" (Carpentier Prologue iv).  To put the reader in a "limit state" (or liminal state) of "faith," Carpentier says, required deviating from standards of verisimilitude in order to capture "the marvelous in the real," the foreign and the exotic so strange to the European, but sometimes verifiable to the Latin American.  Among other things, magical realism allowed writers to capture "the marvelous" flowing "freely from a reality precise in all its details" (viii).   It is this aspect of magical realism -- the freedom it gives to explore, non-judgementally, the exotic and unscientifically proven that exists within reality -- which attracts Latino writers.  Because they position themselves between what U.S. society accepts and everything else on the borders, magical realism offers a wealth of possibilities for overturning the status quo, satirizing notions of the "proper" and for upsetting destructive stereotypes.

            Magical realism depicts the point where too different realities come together in much the way advocated by Gloria Anzaldua, in calling for her "hybrid, malleable, mutable" Chicana, in short her "new mestisa consciousness" with its "tolerance for ambiguity" (Borderlands 77).  Magical realism reflects the duality of reality and fantasy, the borderland synthesis of things concrete and rational and things fantastic and otherworldly.  The reader cannot accept the work as pure fantasy and therefore dismiss it as, Todorov explains, Science fiction, Ghost stories, Fantasy, or other "marvelous" narrative forms.  Neither can the seemingly irrational be explained and legitimized as in most of Poe[23] (who deals with human extremes, yet often qualifies the supernatural with rational explanations) or in detective or mystery stories where the unknown is finally clarified and the mystery solved (Todorov 48-50).[24]

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            Equating magical realism with Todorov's Fantastic is not, however, entirely justified, since magical realism often includes narrative elements which he labels "hyperbolic marvelous" and "exotic marvelous" (55).  In magical realist fiction, we frequently find both types, though Todorov argues that they fall between the Fantastic and the Marvelous.  Embellishment, particularly, is a key factor in magical realist political critiques where the texts push reality one step beyond plausibility.   Like Garcia Marquez, Cecile Pineda often use the "hyperbolic marvelous" to accent the ridiculousness of one limited perception of the world.  In The Love Queen of the Amazon, for instance, after a suitor has sent thousands of flowers to his young love, swarms of bees soon make the room uninhabitable (63).  The extension is not entirely unrealistic, simply overstated enough to call attention to the quirks of a romantic custom.  Alfredo Vea describes the strange story of a woman named Boydeen who stabs to death an abusive partner named Hiawatha Carson.  Damaged both physically and emotionally, she retreats into a mute, quasi-catatonic state.  Vea pushes the limits of verisimilitude when Boydeen takes up residence beneath the front porch of a small general store where she becomes a sort of invisible stenographer, scribbling verbatim every conversation she hears from above.   She speaks only in what Vea calls "readback" while the porch becomes an unofficial town hall where "desperate mothers" record their prayers, and "young black nobodies from nowhere...say words to marry each other in writing, on this fringe of life" (184).   Discussing  the Cuban-American writer Roberto G, Fernandez, Mary Velasquez argues that this sort of "imaginative reach outside the structures of time and space" can be regarded as linked to the fantasizing of the Cuban exile, as the natural imaginative extension of his or her longing and dreams ("Fantastic" 75).  It seems, however, that bending the limits of plausibility in Latino fiction has as many purposes as there are examples.


          The magical realist text doesn't rely upon the first person point of view as often as the Fantastic does.  In a first person narrative, the confusion and bewilderment the reader feels is filtered through an equally mystified narrator who experiences the bizarre.  Removing this personae, magical realists characteristically employ the third person (Todorov's "non-represented" narrator), which, Todorov argues, is clearly associated with the marvelous where the "supernatural universe is not intended to awaken doubts" (83).  Magical realism questions both the magical and the real because the reader has no intermediary in his confrontation with the strange.  Unlike certain examples of the Fantastic, there are few lexical or syntactical clues in magical realism to draw attention to the fiction's ambiguity.  Todorov cites the uses of words like "seemed" and "believed" and the indistinct temporal quality of the imperfect tense.  The absence of these "modalizing formulas" (Todorov 80) in modern magical realism can only further obscure certainty in the text.  Neither does magical realist fiction depend upon a linear narrative as does Todorov's Fantastic.  The magical quality is simply presented rather than carefully prepared for with foreshadowing and suspense.  In a scene reminiscent of Garcia Marquez's short story "The Saint," Ana Castillo's "La Loca" sits up in her coffin when the lid is removed at the funeral, then flies up on to the roof (So Far from God 22-23).  Later in the same book "La Loca's" beautiful and "selfless" sister Caridad is maimed and left for dead by the side of the road, only to wander off one night "whole and once again beautiful" dressed in a wedding gown (37).  There is no preparation and no explanation for these sorts of miraculous occurrences, and no one gapes in awe when they occur.  The narrator is not necessarily unreliable, and the reader is left to find a symbolic significance in the events.  In this case, Castillo is perhaps suggesting women's unfortunate need to escape an abusive world.  La Loca explains that she flies to the roof top to escape the "smell" of humans, and Caridad becomes a sort of disconnected phantom, gliding away, dazed and unreachable like Mary Tyrone in O'Neill's play.    More importantly, the absence of conclusive explanation brings the reader's understanding of events to a level identical to that held by the townspeople in the book.  We are compelled for a moment to share in the beliefs of rural southwestern, Chicano, folk culture, where miracles play a genuine role in determining spiritual convictions.  When Garcia Marquez's winged man somehow falls out of the sky, the reader must similarly experience the reactions of poor, coastal Colombians with some of their own confusion and disbelief, and understand the methods of their coping with the other worldly.[25]   We are perhaps more soundly tied to the roots of their myth making.  With this narrative trick in the hands of writers like Castillo, the bizarre and implausible become the means of guiding the reader toward the vivid cultural realities of characters.

            These distinguishing characteristics of magical realism suggest that Chanady is correct in asserting that, while sharing qualities of the Fantastic, magical realism differs from it in the manner of its portrayal since "in magical realism, the supernatural is not presented as problematic" (emphasis mine - 23).   Magical realism, because of its characterstic "authorial reticence," the withholding of explanation,  "naturalizes the supernatural and the strange world view presented in the text" (Chanady 149).  Moreover, magical realism (like the Fantastic) cannot be reduced (and excused) by allegorical interpretation.  The term implies "borders" by mixing opposites.  One needs to see magical realism as a name for fiction that throws worlds (cultural, metaphysical, political) together in such a way as to disrupt and disturb the status quo.  Thus, a reader is made aware, as Said claims, of "the dense interwoven strands of a history that mock linear narrative, easily recuperated 'essences,' and the dogmatic mimesis of 'pure' representation" (276).  What grounds magical realism, and despite its affinity with aspects of Todorov's marvelous, is its realism.  
            Whether or not the critical label magical realism is sufficient or should be replaced with "mestizo consciousness" or "border writing," it is true that the fiction the term refers to suggests a blending of two worlds and obligates the reader to manage both simultaneously -- thus creating the necessity of a dual (multi) perspective.  Hicks has suggested a "multidimensional" perspective she compares with the image of a hologram (Intro xxviii - xxix), which nicely incorporates the notion of each perspective creating an apparent whole, yet that whole being the shifting assemblage of fragments rather than a solid reality.   One's cultural vision seems complete, but once altered by experience, is shown to be inadequate and in a constant state of change.  Once aware of the magical in the reality of Afro-Cuban religion, for example, the reader must embrace a dual perspective.  A bicultural vision becomes necessary.  Where escape into the purely marvelous can disconnect a reader from socioeconomic reality, magical realism, like metafiction in general, tricks the reader by creating a recognizable situation and then "shattering" the "fictional illusion" (Alexander 3-4).  The writers of the new Hispanic American novel destabilize their own works and consequently question the nature of reality and not simply the modernist idea of questioning how we perceive reality (Alexander 22).

            Magical realism provides a formal release from the restrictions of realism, without the ultimate escapism and disconnection of fantasy or the purely marvelous.  The verisimilitude of the opening scenes of Cecile Pineda's The Love Queen of the Amazon is firmly established by the believable representation of a Catholic institution, its rituals and restrictions, yet the heroine of the novel is born to a mother sleeping in a bath tub, mythically born "swimming vigorously...and entirely covered with downy black hair" (4).  Three pages into the story, the reader feels the tension between a mythic birth that augers a future "singularly free of virginal modesty or unnecessary chastity" and the concrete reality of a convent with no "plumbing facilities" that teaches the "feminine arts" that "make a woman a woman."  This is the first instance of how reality in the story will be adjusted to fit the life of the novel's heroine.  She is Ana (after a maternal grandmother), but also Magdelena (after a "deceased maiden aunt); she lives in a marvelous world beneath the surface of reality.  Where realism uses language to create recognizable worlds, the "new language" (in the tradition of modernism), defamiliarizes the world in language that draws attention to itself (Alexander 6).  Pineda begins her book with a magical, unconventional birth which sets the stage for the unconventional acts the heroine will undertake throughout the story.  Unafraid of water, she'll rescue a drowning girl.  Unafraid of societal etiquette, she'll establish a brothel in her husband's mansion.

            As were the magical realists of the 40's and 50's, Latino writers are appealing to an audience, in Angel Flores's words, "not merely initiated in aesthetic mysteries but versed in subtleties" (191).   In their rejection of stereotypical views and popular attitudes toward Latinos in the U.S., they are naturally inclined to embrace a mode of narrative that questions and deconstructs the dominant society's accepted standards, rules and beliefs.  Whether or not their works include the overtly fantastic, because of magical realism, they are free to emphasize the oral nature of human communication, the vernacular component to their cultures.  This narrative mode legitimizes the stories and tall tales of the Latino's ancestors and families.  Empowered with this distinctly Latin American, Postmodernist mode, writers can twist their tales in startling ways in order to upset conventions.  They can exaggerate whatever they want and escape the narrow confines of autobiographical prose. 

            Ed Vega, for instance, in a typical example of his outrageous attempt to mock conventional attitudes about sex, describes a prostitute's reaction to seeing the enormity of one Filiberto Casablancas's penis:


...the night was pierced by the most horrifying scream he had ever heard. Within the scream there was an eerie whistling which set dogs howling and cocks crowing as if it were morning.  The next day the hibiscuses, roses, marguerites, jasmines and lilies in all the gardens of the town had wilted and earthworms appeared everywhere as if they had poured from the heavens despite it not having rained the previous night. (Mendoza 30)

Exaggeration here serves, not only to embellish a humorous story, to mythologize an exceptional character, but to satirize predictable reactions of readers and townsfolk alike.  Like Vega, Latino writers in this way can creatively reflect upon themselves and their writing with irony and humor, calling attention to the absurdity of custom and taboo.  Moreover, the release from realism serves their purpose of revealing the uncertainties of Latinos struggling between cultural systems.  Magical realism stretches the borders and accounts for those in the liminal ground between.  It doesn't require a judgmental distance from the bizarre, so writers may portray their marginal community in all its strangeness from within without the necessity of abandoning or critiquing it.   For these reasons magical realism has, as Homi Bhabha asserts, become "the literary language of the emergent post-colonial world" (7).



      Arturo Islas, in his second novel, Migrant Souls, mentions a wedding cake from the "Aracataca Bakery" (97).  Ed Vega jokes about comparing pen size (among other things) with his good friend Gabo in a short story from Mendoza's Dreams (23).  Ron Arias reworks the short story "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World" for his novel The Road to Tomazunchale.   Directly or indirectly,  many Latino writers display the influence of Garcia Marquez.  Jose David Saldivar perhaps overgeneralizes when he states that Garcia Marquez more than any other writer "has most shaped the course of U.S. minority discourses in the 1970's and 1980's," yet Garcia Marquez surely has had a hand in guiding "the new narrative from Our America" (23).    He has "set out to create a Native American tradition...on the aesthetic grounds prepared by Cervantes, Kafka, Borges, and Faulkner" (24).   The "discovery" of Garcia Marquez's 100 Years of Solitude forced European critics to recognize the existence of South and Central American literature, and appreciate certain qualities of it.    The magnitude of the book's critical and popular success surely accounts for the abundance of allusions to it and its creator in fiction all over the world.  Of course, Garcia Marquez had roots in Faulkner, in Carpentier, and in Virginia Woolf, but there was a newness in Macondo that refused to allow literary scholars to follow their accustomed trail of influence back through European tradition, or at least to branch off that path momentarily, and therefore, once having deviated, never quite being capable of falling back in line.  Hugh Kenner, discussing how the cave paintings on the walls of Altamira helped shape the modernist perspective of time, explains that by virtue of their existence, they proved that art lived outside of time and beyond existing strategies of decipherment and accepted methods of judgment (30).  It can be argued that Garcia Marquez's writing has had a similar impact upon writing in the Americas, especially among Latinos. 

            The reasons for the Colombian writer's influence are many.  First of all, it is with his work that the concept of magical realism enters the mainstream literary dialogue.   Critical acclaim for Garcia Marquez broke down regional restrictions and nourished a global perspective.  As Jose David Saldivar has noted, Garcia Marquez's brand of magical realism emphasized the "oral expressions" of Third World cultures and so accented the collective voice of the folk world, the unofficial, the anti-official (Dialectics 94-95).  Prior magical realists (predominately during the 1940's and 1950's, up to the time of Angel Flores's famous essay), while suggesting an alternative to the written reality of European history,  were only marginally concerned with communicating something of the folk world and its beliefs in an attempt to disrupt status quo versions of reality.  In authenticating the oral, the storyteller, the mythic Indian peasant's version of reality, Garcia Marquez was helping to invent a language for those on the periphery of the literary world.  As Fuentes has claimed, "to invent a language is to say all that history has silenced" (30). 

            Magical realism nourishes the writer's imaginative questioning of certain irrational, but genuine, features of the folk culture he or she portrays.  Garcia Marquez has the freedom to discuss a "very old man with enormous wings" or a beautiful girl's ascent into the air, and in so doing develops a method of critiquing a psychological characteristic of Latin Americans: a tendency to believe in an external locus of control.  Partly a product of Roman Catholicism, the notion holds that what happens in life is often the result of something other than one's own actions.   The Spanish language incorporates the idea into its own grammatical structures: "Se me olvid?" "Se me pas?" "Se me perdiio"; (literally "It forgot itself on me").   When Ariel Dorfman and Arland Mattelart attack the U.S. Government and the Disney corporation for their Donald Duck cartoons, they are rebelling against what they deem propaganda which purports the correctness of such a system of thought.  As Donald Duck wanders through his numerous futile attempts to better his life -- a pattern they label "suffrenture" ("suffering coated with adventure" 43)[27] -- readers are led to believe that nothing can be done, that human action (like working, rebelling, striking) is irrelevant, that fate and accident determine all, and that money (like children), arrives magically.   Folk tales throughout Latino fiction are filled with this particular concept of understanding the world and its relationship to oneself.   One need only check the frequency of words like "milagro" (miracle), or destino (fate) in Latin American and Latino fiction for confirmation.  Fernando Alegria recognized this metaphysical perspective in Alejo Carpentier's sense of "a peculiar Latin American consciousness devoid of self-reflexiveness and inclined to faith; a consciousness that allows Latin Americans to live immersed in culture and to feel history not as a causal process that can be analyzed rationally and intellectually, but as destiny" (Gonzalez Echevarra 125-126). 

            With the freedom of a narrative system that incorporates the folk voice, where fantasy and reality are not entirely incongruous, the stories of previously silent grandmothers, now legitimized as both subjects and conveyers of fiction, could be told.  Gustavo Gardeazabal could recount the story of a "Mafioso" (during the period of "La Violencia" in Colombia), from tall tales and "rumors."[28]  Isabel Allende could depict her uncle's Chile from a woman's perspective, and her work surely sparked Cristina Garcia's.  Latino writers follow in this path, weaving the "orality of culture" with the written (Kanellos 121), privileging the "cuentistas" by valuing their spoken words.  Eliana Ortega in her article "Poetic Discourse of the Puerto Rican Woman in the U.S.: New Voices of Anacaonian Liberation" explains how the mythic Indian rebel, Anacaona, is given voice as "oral discourse is superimposed over the exclusively literary one that belongs to the intellectual elite (122-123).  For Chicanos, Paredes's famous anthropological study of folk hero Gregorio Cortez, With his Pistol in His Hand, exemplified how the valorization of oral folk culture authenticates an integral part of Chicano identity just as the Afro-Cuban folk tales compiled by Lydia Cabrera served a similar purpose for Cuban and Cuban-American culture.  The Latino focus upon an oral tradition, and therefore the accenting of the "bizarre" (to Western readers) landscape of legends and tall tales will impact Latino fiction in ways to be explored in a later chapter, but the idea must be introduced at this point in order to fully appreciate Garcia Marquez's influence.  By privileging the folk voice of his Colombian community, he legitimized a writer's attempt to treat "the commonplace as if were exceptional and the exceptional as if it were commonplace" (Brushwood 10). 

            Chicana writers like Portillo Trambley in her novel, and Helen Ponce in short stories like "El Marxista" or "The Playgoers," borrow a system of flashback used in the individual chapters of 100 Years of Solitude in which each chapter begins with a climax of sorts and the reader reconstructs the sequence of causes bit by bit as the chapter progresses.  While such a circular technique can become repetitious (as in Ponce's writing), it helped Garc? M?quez convey his cyclical rendition of time.  As Julio Ortega has explained, the famous opening sentence of One Hundred Years of Solitude  recalls the fairy tale opening "Habia una vez" [Once upon a time] and establishes a mythical timelessness that frames the entire novel.[29]  This "tiempo fabuloso" [fable time], both "tenso" and "calmo" [tense and calm] where "todo el pasado pertenece ya al futuro" [all the past belongs already to the future] (139) forces a reader to follow sequences of chronological time, and, simultaneously, to read through a veil of nostalgic memory.  The timeless storybook opening infuses the prose with a feel of universality and importance, and makes it "mas resonante, mas tangible, un tiempo que es duraci? ay transici?" [more resonant, more tangible, a time that is duration and transition"].  Perhaps most importantly, the opening sentence connects the written word to the "orality of culture," substantiating the validity of folk tales and signaling a mythic adventure unimpeded by the restrictions of realist writing.

            Non-realist, Latino writers, frequently borrow the phrase "many years later" with varying results.  Eliud Martinez's second sentence in Voice-Haunted Journey reads: "Years later Alejandro's older brother would not remember how many people were there, sitting in the funeral chapel in Austin, Texas..."  In this novel of jumbled time and metafictional game playing, the opening sets the stage for a non-linear narrative that bounces from past to present to future.  The phrase ruptures the narrative of The Rain God at one point so that Jaunita's reactions to her father's death are juxtaposed with her reactions to her nephew's and the narrative is jolted into the future (44).  The second paragraph of Judith Cofer's The Line of the Sun reads: "Many years later, after Guzman disappeared into the New York City subway system, Pap?Pepe dared to say at the dinner table that it was his wife's prenatal violence that had made Guzman the runaway he would always be" (1). Cofer's "tiempo fabuloso" soon changes, however, to purely linear time as the novel progresses (mysteries are solved) and the mythical quality is grounded when historical dates (i.e. the year 1951) and events (the Korean War) begin to fill the narrative. Cofer may begin with the energy of a fable, but her Nuyorican experience growing up during the 1950's in a New Jersey "barrio" guide her toward a more realistic narrative.  This is why the opening lines are tied to Guzma, the exotic outcast with "the face of a wise harlequin" (191) whose carnivalesque persona will fade as the narrator copes with the traumas of an urban housing project. It is as if the reader moves from story to reality, from mythic universality to concrete specific.

[21]Critical debate over the nature of magic realism has been going on for over 20 years among scholars like Flores and Luis Leal in Latin America and in the US .  The debate is perhaps most succinctly summarized and explained  in Amaryll Beatrice Chanady's Magical Realism and the Fantastic: Resolved Versus Unresolved Antinomy.  New York & London: Garland Pub. Co., 1985.

[22]Concerning Cabrera's work, see Rosa Valdez-Cruz's article "The Short Stories of Lydia Cabrera: Transpositions or Creations? in Latin American Women Writers: Yesterday and Today, Latin American Literary Review Press, Miller and Tatum eds. 1977.

[23]Poe's influence (by way of France), throughout Latin American is a subject outside the scope of this study,  but the use in Latino fiction of what Todorov calls the "uncanny bordering on the fantastic" has its roots in tales like "The House of Usher" or "The Cask of Amontillado" (Todorov Fantastic 47).  Poe's influence is felt strongly in the distortion of the fixed lines between life and death.  In addition, Latino writers owe a debt  to Poe's attention to the importance of sleeping, waking, dreaming, envisioning, in short, his rejection of objective reality and embracing of ghosts and the supernatural.  See Chapter Six.

[24]Though at least one critic has questioned the value of the term, magical realist writings have fairly dramatic effects on the reader, many of them substantially political.  Emily Hicks has argued that the term "depoliticizes" the Latin American Text (Border Writing Intro xxvi).  Though some critics may focus upon the magical oddities in a given work, or may rigidly contrast the "magical realism" with the "real," thereby squeezing out the all important borderland between binary opposites -- and, in Hicks words, ignoring "important issues such as narrative non-linearity, the decentered dimensional perspective"(xxvii) --  the term itself suggests the opposite.

[25]Wendy Kolmar cites similar narrative factors where "supernatural elements exist undifferentiated from the "present," "the past," "the natural," where "characters and readers do not confront them as other, they are simply part of the experience of life and of the text" ("Dialectics of Connectedness" 238). Though she attributes these qualities to women's supernatural fiction, and to women writers' efforts at establishing what Rachel Duplessis called their "double consciousness," it is clear what she is talking about is related more to the tradition of magical realism than it is to gender. This is especially true regarding her notion that the storyteller's "use of the supernatural is one essential way in which...texts recover the past" (248) as will be clear when Garcia Marquez's works are discussed below.

[26]Carlos Fuentes argues as much in La nueva novela hispanoamericana (The New Hispanic American Novel) by claiming that one needs linguistic renovation to portray "a new language," "a language of ambiguity, a plurality of meanings" (31).

[27]Dorfman's book, published in Chile during the Allende years, offers a fascinating, if one sided, view of the importance of Disney's negative cultural impact upon the people of Chile.

[28]See his novel Condores no entierran todas los dias (1984).

[29]Ron Arias remarked to Juan Bruce-Novoa that the line "transformed, deepened reality in so many of its aspects" and instilled in him a "wonder and fascination" (Chicano Authors: Inquiry by Interview. Austin & London: University of Texas Press, 1980, p 248).


Continue: Chapter 2 Part III

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Copyright 2006 Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature, Pearson Education, Inc.
Copyright 2006 Latino Fiction and the Modernist Imagination, John S. Christie