Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Name That South American Magical Realist...

Can you guess what novel this is from?
Or the author?

Then over the zocalo Don Roberto would fly through the many-layered and fabulous night, changing the frequency of the townspeople’s transistor radios...

This time, when Don Roberto entered the glitterball, the two men smoked cigars, and Don Roberto told Josue Maldicho about the tower and its lancet windows, a tower indeed so tall that it was said that the servants aged unspeakably climbing the stairs that led from its cellars to the large, muraled study at its pinnacle. The mural depicted the history of the region, so delicately crafted that once, when Don Roberto spilt wine on the eastern wall, he had to use great speed and diligence in cleaning up the accident: had he not, the volcano called ”La Malinche” would never have existed. So it was that the younger servants worked on the ground floors, the middle-aged on those floors of the tower which lay only slightly above the cloud cover, and the aged where the air was so thin that only those who had faded, who needed less than before in their diminishing lungs, could survive. Don Roberto, of course, ate, slept, and lived on the floors above his servants. ”The stratospheric Don,” whispered Josue Maldicho with reverence, as brilliant parrots, conures, and jandayas disguised slyly as parakeets joined in chorus above the zocalo-a chorus that agreed with Maldicho, if not in reverence: “Yes, the stratospheric Don.”

”You flatter me,” disclaimed Don Roberto, the end of his cigar glowing in the darkened interior of the glitterball, its smoke rising invisibly through the gaps between the mirrors and into the air above the zocalo, where it rose toward the moon, passed through several time zones, and dispersed in a country where the dogs laugh, where solid architecture is valued, where the stars bowed in magnificent homage, and the years turned under.

23 comments:

Uncle Matt said...

Nope. I'd guess Isabel Allende, because I know she's got a whole La Malinche thing going on, but I don't know my magical realists very well. This seems pretty deliberately magical-realisty, like it's either a very early work now considered a part of that school, or like something else entirely that was written trying to capture that feel. I'm interested in where this is going...

Studio Arkhein said...

Wild, uneducated guess -> Carlos Castaneda?

- Ark

Chris said...

Roberto Bolaño?

Rod said...

Marquez?

Spawn of Endra said...

Whoever it is is an enemy of the people.

noisms said...

Doesn't sound like Borges, so I'm going to say Mario Vargas Llosa, because he's the only other guy I can think of apart from Marquez and that would surely be too easy.

5stonegames said...

I think thats Castaneda but its been years and years since I read any of those.

James Smith said...

It's not Castaneda.

Ragnorakk said...

100 Years of Solitude methinks?

Jeremy Duncan said...

My guess is that it isn't from a South American magical realist author at all, but someone writing a parody of the genre. It seems overstuffed with 'magical realist' tags in a way that puts one in mind of the preposterous, tumescent sausages served by Felipe, the cook, to his master, that delightful old eccentric Don Lazaro. Don Lazaro, who was, incredibly, his own maternal uncle, who began each morning with a breakfast of black coffee and a single, grilled bull's testicle, and who made it his nightly errand to run through the vineyards stark naked, holding aloft an earthenware jug, with which he attempted without success to catch the ghosts of the fireflies of his youth.

Or maybe not.

Roger the GS said...

Didn't National Lampoon do a parody called "One Hundred Years of Solid Food"?

John said...

It sounds a little too fantastical for an entire novel, frankly. A shorter piece within a piece, maybe?

Steve Lawson said...

I agree that it sounds like a pastiche, so I'll go out on a limb and guess Pynchon.

Rod said...

That was my thought, actually -- but I only read like the first 20 pages of it, and nothing else by Marquez, so apart from the style I have nothing to go on. If I had encountered this scene before I would surely have remembered it.

GW said...

When someone says "South American magical realist" my first thought is Paulo Coelho.

The Alchemist is the only book of his I've read (which I enjoyed and would recommend), so I can hardly claim to recognize his writing style. But he's my best guess.

Will said...

Has dialogue and characters, so it can't be Borges.

Thomas M. said...

Man, it doesn't read like any magical realist I'm familiar with, which is pretty much just Borges and Bolaño.

I feel like this is a trap and we're all about to get our legs snapped off by a giant set of metal alligator jaws.

faoladh said...

If they didn't, they should. Or "One Hundred Years of Solid Dudes".

liza said...

I surrender. I can't guess what it hell is. As a Spaniard, shame on me. It's not Vargas Llosa nor García Márquez, I think. Surely is not Borges. Somehow it makes me think of Juan Rulfo, despite style differences and Rulfo not being South American, (the "Malinche" clue is maddening me!)

Zak S said...

This is so fun.

John said...

You are such a tease.

rainswept said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pat Harrigan said...

Oh wow. That's from Gali Sanchez' and Michael Williams' "Vampires" supplement for Chill. I read that as a kid waaaay before I'd ever heard of magic realism.

That whole book is great, especially the Macedonian vampire.