I was on a train many years ago when I read my first Magic Realist work – Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. I think my eyes sped over the zig-zag, up-and-down story and style faster than the train. I was fascinated for days on end.
I read Tin Drum. I even devoured John Irvings’ more lightweight Magic Realism.
I didn’t read A Hundred Years In Solitude, however.
I left it too late. I took up the book last year and put it down after 30-40 pages. One of the few books I’ve abandoned, and it had to be this mammoth classic. I was disappointed in myself.
But I realized, it was the genre. I was exhausted by it. It had lost its power to shock me. Its rhythms of repetition, its fantastic imaginings, its symbolic occurrences – all the things I loved so much about the genre once – those very same things left me cold now.
I have no energy left to keep pace. That’s part of why I loved 'Prep' by Curtis Sittenfeld. Again, picking up the book was an impulse prompted by a vague recollection that I had read her articles on Salon. Since Salon is hallowed ground to me, I borrowed 'Prep'.
And what a powerful read it turned out to be. True, it covers no particularly new ground. Misfit teenager, tries to belong, small failures, a chance at happiness – but what a unique novel she has fashioned out of this done-to-death material! Lee – the protagonist haunted me for weeks, until I couldn’t remember if it was my sister, a close friend, or myself that she reminded me of.
And all this, in the simplest written book I’ve read in a long while.
The Restless Quill has a new home.
2 years ago