Rightly or wrongly, it seemed that this writer understood that the tradition of Magical Realism uniquely - and ironically - suits itself to Christian Fiction.
Why ironically? Because when we think of Magical Realist Fiction, we generally think first of novels written in places where the Western European, "Christian" culture has colonized and marginalized the native culture, and those novels often subvert the imposed worldview and re-claim, re-dignify the lost or nearly-lost native worldview.
Oh my. Don't I sound like a school-marm on the lecture circuit? And this after Bonnie's brilliant post last Friday that had us all laughing all weekend.
But remember her step number three?
Invent a perpetual motion machine. Give it a catchy name. Then, hide it in a closet for at least one year. After the appropriate amount of time has past, take the machine out of the closet, tinker with it until it moves at double the speed. (This step ensures you are able to do the impossible – at least twice.)
Good Magical Realist fiction does the impossible, with grace. So bear with me, and consider that perhaps the colonizing culture was more rationalist than Christian. I know, the church was always deeply a part of Western colonization, but would I get in much trouble if I suggested that at least on occasion the church had first and long before been colonized itself by the Enlightenment mindset (too enlightened to believe the impossible), than by its native Biblical perspective?
Certainly by now The Age of Reason has outgrown its need to get the church on its side, and, it seems to me, left a sadder world as its legacy in its last days.
I'm less inclined than some to feel persecuted or marginalized as an American Christian (I realize things are different in other places), but at the very least, as one who believes that Van Gogh's stars tell the Gospel truth, that the world is charged with the grandeur of God, that he dances and whispers sweet somethings in our ears, that rocks cry out and donkeys speak and a virgin brings forth a son and water turns to wine and the lion will lie down with the lamb... at the very least I often feel lonely.
Then take a look at this short list of the attributes of good magical realist fiction:
• It blends the mundane with the fantastic so seamlessly as to challenge perceptions of what is real and what is not.
• It elevates the mundane to the sublime.
• The story’s message is subversive to the dominant worldview.
Got any angels in your closet? Do you see something sublime in a lunch of bread and fish? Has this list brought something wondrous to mind?
Then please write it down in your purple notebook.
But first share it here, please, in the comments. We love to read what you have to say.
PS: For inspiration, try the Magical Realist classic, "One Hundred Years of Solitude," by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Or try two newer novels, "The History of Love" by Nichole Krauss, and "Peace Like a River" by Leif Enger.
PSS: "I am after painting reality impressed on the mind so hard that it returns as a dream, but I am not after painting dreams as such, or fantasy." - George Tooker
PSST: "My most important problem was destroying the lines of demarcation that separates what seems real from what seems fantastic" - Gabriel Garcia Marquez