My family likes drinking and napping. Me, I like drinking but I’m not so hot at the napping. I’d love to be – the ability to catnip is an indicator of personal greatness – but I’m not. Anyways, this past weekend, spent almost exclusively with my family, meant I was at loose ends while people took their nap shifts. So outside of food preparation (I reccommend everyone use more coriander in garden salads, ça marche super-bien!), I managed to read In Evil Hour, which I think is Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s first novel.
It’s been two or three years since the last time I re-read the sheer fucking treat for the inward eye, ear, nose and mouth that is One Hundred Years of Solitude, which In Evil Hour seems to prelude into a bit – it mentions the town of Macondo a few times, as well as the gypsy whose name starts with M that I’ve forgotten already. But I do know In Evil Hour has a different feel altogether. OHYOS is hardly feel-good, but it doesn’t have the same vein of edgy creepiness that runs through In Evil Hour where just enough about the town it’s set in is left undefined – juuuust enough – that it almost makes one nauseous.
As I was reading it, a niece who was being bored shitless by her stupid homework asked me what I was reading. I told her, and when she crinkled her wee brows over the author's name, pointed out that it was a Latin American book, to which she asked if Latin American books were different from English books, which is just such a great question. It’s an obvious yes, but so yummy to think about why and how. I’ve only read a handful of Latin American authors – just Paolo Coelho, and then from him only The Alchemist (I know you’re a fan, Lady, I should borrow some), Isabel Allende (who was buggered for me so bad by all the film adaptations that I stopped after The Infinite Plan - I should start again now that all the new films coming out are based on true stories and older films), Laura Esquivel (and by the end of Like Water for Chocolate, I’d had enough for a little while) and – oh man – you know, that’s it, besides all the Gabriel Garcia Marquez I could lay my hands on. So I suppose this is a call for recommendations.
Anyways, people used the term magic realism once upon a time to describe authors like the above – I’m not sure that terms gets across what I get from them, but I’m not sure I can think of an alternative. The way detail is laid out in their books seems, at first, so fucky to someone with a reading background like mine, but then after ten pages it makes perfect sense and any other way seems cumbersome. If you think about, say, the way Fermina in Love in the Time of Cholera flip-flopped over how she felt about eggplant, it tells you more about her calm marriage than Ellen’s descriptive passages in Wuthering Heights about Catherine Earnshaw’s calm marriage to Edgar. Not to say I don’t love Wuthering Heights, but jumping straight from LINTOC to Wuthering Heights might hurt it for me and I don't think the reverse is true.
Long story short, the Latin American lit I’ve read is so yummy it makes me want to learn Portugese and move to Brazil with Lady. I brought up Brazil with Figaro a couple of days ago. He started laughing, but in an “I’m thinking about it” kind of way.